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Third Army hosts planning conference for upcoming exercises in Saudi Arabia

Jan 28, 2010

By Beth Lake (USARCENT)

Third Army/U.S. Army Central welcomed senior leaders from the Royal Saudi Land Forces and U.S. Military Training Mission Land Forces Division for a concept development conference at Fort McPherson Jan. 18 through 22.

During the event, participants planned for two military exercises scheduled to occur in Saudi Arabia in April and early 2011.

"There are two major exercises in Saudi Arabia," Col. David Sanders, chief of USMTM Land Forces Division, explained. "Ernest Leader is the largest; Friendship is the next."
Both exercises are in line with Third Army's mission to enhance military-to-military relationships with Saudi Arabia while promoting stability in the region.

"The Friendship exercise is conducted bilaterally between the U.S. Army and the Royal Saudi Land Forces," Maj. Craig Matsuda, Third Army Arabian Peninsula executive branch chief, said. "It is a field training exercise with an important strategic ally in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The theme for the 2011 exercise will be unconventional warfare, what the U.S. Army refers to as asymmetric warfare."

Ernest Leader is a simulated command post exercise that uses the military decision-making process to improve logistical capabilities, refine command and control, and improve staff planning in a tactical operations center.

Lt. Gen. William G. Webster, Third Army commanding general, explained the changes that have been made to Ernest Leader this year.

"Ernest Leader has grown from a brigade level simulation exercise to a division level joint/combined arms command post exercise," Webster said.

Both exercises are designed to shape the future of the region by increasing interoperability amongst the militaries while creating an environment where participants can learn from one another.

"They will see and observe how our military system works as compared to theirs," Sanders said "As you can see from these conferences, it takes a long time to build all the elements that make these exercises successful."

Webster concluded the conference by highlighting the important impact these exercises will have on the region.

"I want to thank you for traveling to the U.S.," Webster told conference attendees. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of our vital strategic partners and exercises like these enhance our interoperability and security cooperation."

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