Middle East exercise will focus on seaborne mine countermeasures
WASHINGTON — Militaries from more than 20 nations will practice seaborne mine countermeasures later this year in a multilateral exercise in the Middle East, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.
The Pentagon said the exercise, from Sept. 16 to 27, is not intended to intimidate Iran. The regime threatened late last year to mine the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the Persian Gulf, as tensions rose over the country’s nuclear program.
In the wake of the Iranian threats, the Navy announced in March it was doubling the number of minesweepers in the Persian Gulf to eight.
“This is not an exercise that’s aimed to deliver a message to Iran,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said Tuesday. “This is an exercise that’s designed to, within this multinational forum, increase our capabilities and cooperation.”
Little did not specify which other nations would participate, and a Central Command press release also failed to identify participants in the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012.
The exercise “demonstrates the international community’s ability to work together to ensure free and secure trade,” Gen. James Mattis, head of the Central Command said in the press release.
The exercise will focus on a hypothetical threat from an extremist organization to mine international strategic waterways including the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.