By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 17, 2012 – A multinational minesweeping exercise scheduled for this fall in the waters of the Middle East is intended to increase U.S. capabilities and cooperation with allies, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.
“This is not an exercise aimed to deliver a message to Iran,” Little said in answer to questions about the reported maneuvers.
Rather, “It’s an international symposium and exercise of mine countermeasures conducted in multiple locations in the [U.S. Naval Forces Central Command] area of operations,” he added. “This is a defensive exercise aimed at preserving freedom of navigation in the international waterways of the Middle East and aimed at promoting regional stability in the [U.S. Central Command] area of responsibility.”
According to Centcom, the International Mines Countermeasures Exercise, scheduled to run from Sept. 16 through Sept. 27, will include more than 20 nations across four continents.
Scenarios will focus on a hypothetical threat from an extremist organization mining the international strategic waterways of the Middle East, Centcom said in a statement.
Additionally, there will be scenario-based exercises held in the Persian Gulf, but they will not extend to the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, Centcom officials said. Exercises will take place in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman.
Little noted this will be an important exercise involving an international contingent of military planners.
“These exercises are designed to enhance cooperation, develop a mutual maritime capability and aimed at promoting long-term regional stability,” he said.