Defying a deadly coronavirus pandemic, thousands of American and Emirati forces have taken part in joint drills simulating the capture of a “model city” in a sprawling Abu Dhabi military base.
The final day of the “Native Fury” exercise was held at al-Hamra Military Base in the United Arab Emirates’ capital on Monday, the Associated Press reported. This was the 20th edition of so-called “training” drills that have been taking place since 2008 on a biannual basis.
As many as 4,000 US troops were assigned to deploy armored vehicles and other equipment from nearby Kuwait and the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the base for the purpose of the drills.
During the exercise, the joint forces raided a mock city set up at the base that comprises multi-story buildings, standalone houses, hotels, an airport control tower, an oil refinery, and a central mosque.
Controlled explosions rang out as Emirati troops rappelled from hovering helicopters and marines searched narrow streets for enemy forces, the AP report said.
The war games came amid the United States’ continued tensions with Iran and its ongoing attempts to seek regional and international consensus against the Islamic Republic.
The most recent high point in the tensions was caused by the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), in Baghdad in early January. The atrocity was followed by IRGC ballistic missile strikes against two US bases in the Arab country.
On Saturday, The New York Times reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a known Iran hawk, had recently pushed for a “tough action” against Iran while the country was busy battling the new coronavirus outbreak.
‘Preparedness for fight’
According to AFP, the war games were meant to test response readiness in the face of contingencies, natural disasters, and other possible crises in the region.
The drills’ American commander, Brig. Gen. Thomas Savage was, however, more specific concerning their goal.
“This has been an incredible training opportunity for us to go through this and practice how we would do something if, God forbid, we are forced to go fight in this region again,” he said.
The Emirati commander of the drills, Brig, Tariq al-Zaabi, was also cited by the Emirates’ The National daily as saying, “The exercise demonstrated the combat and professionalism of both forces in applying the concept of command and control, to jointly hit their targets with accuracy and effectiveness.”
The UAE has spent billions of dollars on its military, to which the United States is the biggest procurer.
The two sides have also been supportive of each other’s overseas invasions.
The Emirates deployed forces to Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion of the Central Asian country. It also joined a US-led military coalition that began what is claimed to be an operation against the Daesh terror group in the region in 2014.
Washington, on the other hand, has been the biggest contributor to a 2015-present Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen. The UAE is the second biggest partner in the war that has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis.
Asked about Yemen and cooperation in the war on the impoverished country, American Ambassador to Abu Dhabi John Rakolta, said, “Partnerships are based on many aspects, many fundamentals, and this (Yemen) happens [to be] just one of them.”
“Trust is a huge, huge factor. Transparency, common values all work into a partnership,” he added.
Contempt for coronavirus
Savage, meanwhile, rejected the notion that the war games could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus, which according to the World Health Organization, has infected 31,573 in the US and 153 in the UAE so far.
He claimed those US forces involved had had little contact with the outside world after shipping out for the drills and none had tested positive since.