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US, UK Complete Mine Identification and Exploitation Exercise 2017

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Simmons, Fleet Combat Camera Pacific | October 22, 2017

ARABIAN GULF -- The exercise allowed for U.S. and U.K. forces to share knowledge of mine countermeasures (MCM) capabilities in searching, identifying and neutralizing mines that could threaten the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce.

“This exercise provides a unique opportunity for both navies to exchange knowledge and expertise on expeditionary mine countermeasures capabilities,” said Lt. Travis Miller, officer in charge of post mission analysis for Task Group 56.1. “Militaries must work together when a crisis emerges, it is important for partner nations to build strong relationships.”

As sea mines can pose a risk to any waterborne vessel, exercises such as MIE-EX allow naval forces to prepare for possible threats in the maritime.

“Mines can indiscriminately threaten maritime traffic, which would hamper the free flow of commerce and the freedom of navigation in the region,” said Miller. “This exercise allowed us to conduct realistic training with partners that we would work with if we had to counter this threat in the future.”

According to the participants, many new lessons were learned during the exercise.

“The biggest takeaway and lesson from was first how we operated together, both as individual units and together as a wider task group,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alasdair Magill, officer in charge of U.K. Royal Naval Fleet Diving Unit 3. “Second, we were able to prove how we would recover a mine to an afloat platform and then exploit it for further use.”

The exercise was one of many bilateral MCM exchanges with the Royal Navy in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations focused on enhancing an integrated U.S.-U.K. MCM team.

“We benefit from being able to operate together during peacetime because we can do things at a slower pace,” said Magill. “We can fully understand how each unit operates so that when it comes to war or times of heightened tension and live operations, we are able to seamlessly integrate with each other and execute our mission in the most efficient way possible.”

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.