The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) participated in exercise Resolute Union (RU) 21, a bilateral explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and maritime security operations exercise in Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, May 17-28. RU 21 is the capstone in a series of bilateral exercises between the LAF and U.S. military aimed at maintaining proficiency between the two countries’ armed forces, and increasing interoperability through cooperative training.
“RU 21 has been a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge, build capacity and foster interoperability with our LAF counterparts” said Capt. Oscar Rojas, commander of Task Force (TF) 52, who led the planning and execution of the exercise. “Practicing scenarios across a wide variety of mission sets greatly enhanced our mutual maritime security capabilities as a combined, joint force.”
With the previous exercise in the Resolute series being conducted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, this iteration marked the resumption of side-by-side training between the LAF and U.S. naval forces. Exercise events included EOD demonstrations, dive training, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. Participating U.S. naval forces included U.S. Navy divers and EOD technicians, a U.S. Coastguard Maritime Engagement Team (MET), an expeditionary mine countermeasure company, a Seabee construction battalion and additional supporting staff members.
The exercise was concluded by a closing ceremony attended by General Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Honorable Dorothy Shea, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, and Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw, deputy commander of NAVCENT and U.S. 5th Fleet. The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.