Service members from the U.S., Kuwait, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came together recently for Gulf Gunnery 2021, a two-week trilateral gunnery exercise between the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF), Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), and U.S. forces held at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait, Nov. 8-18. Gulf Gunnery is a U.S. Army Central directed, Task Force Spartan led exercise designed to strengthen the relationships and increase interoperability between the three military forces. Both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are significant regional partners for the United States, and this exercise is just one way to enhance interaction and cooperation, while strengthening the partnerships between all three nations’ forces.
“Gulf Gunnery demonstrated the capacity and capability to conduct trilateral, combined arms maneuver between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and U.S. Army forces. Being a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, it was very special to witness the same warrior spirit from the same partner comrades 30 years later,” said Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, Commanding General, Task Force Spartan.
“These soldiers came together and learned how to communicate, both with simple words and also operational graphics. When they got inside the tank or Bradley, they understood each other’s jobs. They learned different tactics, techniques, and procedures from each other. It was absolutely wonderful to see and be a part of,” said Col. Stephan Ruppel-Lee, Task Force Spartan Chief of Operations.
“The main objectives of Gulf Gunnery 2021 were to achieve interoperability between the three nations, conduct a trilateral gunnery exercise, strengthen military-to-military relationships, and to promote the message to our adversaries that our regional partnership is strong. There is the obvious success from the military standpoint in that three different countries came together and trained in a joint environment in order to better understand the others’ operational capabilities. I think another just as equal success was the personal connections that were made between countries. Whether at a lunch or dinner function with them or out on the ranges,” said Maj. Matthew Wessler, Task Force Spartan’s Kuwait Partner Nation Team Deputy.
The exercise began with crew-level training on individual vehicles to include M1 Abrams tanks from both the KLF and the U.S. Army’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment, as well as Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the RSLF. It then progressed to platoon-level training including live-fire tables and internal skill evaluations conducted by each platoon. The training culminated with a combined company-level gunnery with platoons from each nation participating. With any exercise of this scope, months of planning and preparations were necessary to make it a success. Even facing challenges, such as language barriers and different procedures, it was an opportunity to learn from each other and was a rewarding experience for all involved. While the U.S. has had long-standing partnerships with both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, this exercise marked the first time in over 30-years that all three nations came together, having not done so since the 1991 Gulf War.