U.S. completes 18-day joint naval exercise in Middle East


March 16 (UPI) — The U.S. Navy-led International Maritime Exercise concluded this week, capping the largest joint naval exercise in the Middle East after 18 days.

The eighth entry of IMX was conducted in concert with Exercise Cutlass Express, led by naval forces from East Africa, West India, Europe, and North America. Operations took place across the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and East African coastal regions, according to U.S. Central Command.


U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Vice Adm. Brad Cooper commanded the exercise, which wrapped up Thursday.

“I’ve learned a lot in the decision-making process, especially through multiple training situations that happened at the same time. It made me think outside the box,” Egyptian Navy Cmdr. Mohamed Gharbyia said in a statement.

More than 50 countries participated in IMX this year, bringing more than 7,000 people into the exercise. Along with the manpower, artificial intelligence and unmanned “partners” were deployed. One of these partners was an unmanned aerial drone that is capable of flying for more than 26 hours, CENTCOM said. It was the first time the drone was used in the Middle East.

“This exercise was a good platform to have regional navies under one roof. We have different tactics and procedures, but we had one cause during the exercise of coordination, cooperation, and interoperability,” Pakistan’s Navy Lt. Cmdr. Najaf Rizvi said in a statement.

A ceremony was held on Thursday in Manama, Bahrain, to mark the end of the exercise.