First-ever Desert Observer exercise enhances historic partnership between US Army, Kuwait
By Capt. Scott Kuhn September 19, 2017
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- Soldiers from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Kuwaiti military forces conducted the first-ever Desert Observer exercise near Udairi Range in northern Kuwait on Sept. 13.
The multi-day, partnered training exercise simulated an attack across Kuwait's border. Scouts identified the attacking opposition force and, after calling for fire, conducted a rearward passage of lines with the defending forces composed of Kuwait's Task Force Sabah and Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment from 3rd Brigade.
After halting the attacking force, the defenders conducted a forward passage of lines with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, who was tasked with the counterattack and final destruction of the enemy.
"This event was significant because it showcased our ability to rapidly deploy in conjunction with our partners in the Kuwaiti Land Forces and Ministry of the Interior to decisively encounter a threat to Kuwait or any of our other regional partners," said Capt. John Pelham, commander ofAlpha Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. "We demonstrated not only our ability to deploy the entire formation off of Camp Buehring, but to deploy the entire company at 100% operational readiness directly into a combined arms engagement while synced with our multinational partners."
The exercise originally began as a command post exercise in the spring. During that exercise, multiple Kuwaiti officials were able to observe the interoperability between elements of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Kuwaiti Land Forces.
"The Kuwaiti officials observing the command post exercise saw an opportunity to expand upon it and implement actual ground forces into the scenario," said Capt. Steve Swanson, 3rd Brigade's civil affairs officer and one of the exercise planners. "This is starting off small, but the Kuwaiti's have every intention of expanding the exercise in future years."
According to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Van, deputy commander of 35th Infantry Division and Task Force Spartan, which the 3rd brigade is a part of, this exercise was just the jumping-off point. "It highlighted how we could continue to build upon our relationship with our Kuwaiti partners while building capacity and interoperability," he said. "These types of exercises are important because they give us and our partners the opportunity to work together, improve common processes and develop combined understanding."
The training experience also gave the two nations a chance to learn from each other and apply those lessons learned in a plausible scenario.
"I would say we took a great deal away from this exercise that we can apply in future training scenarios," Pelham said. "Things such as building significant redundancy into mission command when coordinating with non-English speaking partners across multiple domains, maintaining an appreciation for the capabilities and limitations of partner nation equipment, and incorporating different cultural perspectives to enhance and expedite our joint problem-solving abilities."
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