Strengthening U.S.-Saudi Military Cooperation with ‘Earnest Leader 2017’ Exercise

Royal Saudi Land Forces and U.S. Army personnel have taken another step to promote military cooperation, peacekeeping and participation in regional security programs. From Aug. 1-10, 2017, the bilateral forces conducted the “Earnest Leader 2017” joint exercise. The endeavor demonstrated the nations’ shared commitment to promoting regional stability and security.

Earnest Leaders… in 2017, and Beyond

Earnest Leader 2017 is an annual exercise sponsored by U.S. Central Command in Saudi Arabia and consists of a series of seminars followed by a brigade level command post exercise focusing on command and control and coalition operations. This year’s Earnest Leader exercise, now in its 13th installment, focused on border security and the logistical challenges faced in today’s irregular warfare environment.

At the exercise’s closing ceremony, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Central Command Gen. Terrence McKenrick noted the joint forces looked forward to planning the next exercise. “The successful execution of this exercise is a testament to the Royal Saudi Land forces, the United States Army, planners, soldiers, as well as the gracious hospitality that has been extended to us,” said McKenrick, adding “we’ll continue the hybrid warfare focus and apply the lessons we have learned here at this exercise to further integrate our forces and improve future exercises.”

In Pursuit of Shared Objectives

Maj. Gen. Dhafer bin Ali Al-Shehri, the Royal Saudi Land Force northwest area commander, expressed the spirit of cooperation demonstrated between all participants through the lessons gained from the exercise. “We are very pleased with what we have seen between the interaction of our personnel and the U.S. personnel, enhancing their relationships,” said Al-Shehri during his closing statements.

The exercise concludes at a time when security cooperation between the Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is at an all-time high. In January 2017, the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to improve training for special operations and counterterrorism forces, integrate air and missile defense systems, strengthen cyber defenses, and bolster maritime security.

Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in maintaining security in the Middle East, due to its economic, political, and cultural importance and its strategic location. With continued U.S. support, the Kingdom has foiled numerous terrorist attempts against Saudi and foreign targets, and contributed to coalition operations against Daesh in Syria, and countering the destabilizing effects of terrorism and other threats.

Read more at Arab News.