MAHOUT, Nov 3 – Amid strong winds on Saturday, the site of the finale for Oman-Britain joint military exercises — Al Shumookh 2 and Al Saif Al Sareea 3 — came alive with live ammunition (fire power demonstration). Delegated by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sayyid Badr bin Saud al Busaidy, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, presided over the final practical demonstration of exercises Al Shumookh 2 and Al Saif Al Sareea 3 which was carried out by the Sultan’s Armed Forces and the British Royal Armed Forces. The closing ceremony was attended by British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The fire power demonstration was carried out by Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF), Royal Guard of Oman (RGO), the Sultan’s Special Forces and the British allied forces. It took place at two different locations — air and naval forces’ exercise in Ghabbat Bantoot, and air and land forces’ exercise in Mahout. The event attended by officials from SAF, British Armed Forces, security and military units, representatives from civil organisations, dignitaries, shaikhs, governors and media personnel. The joint military exercises were aimed at enhancing combat and operational skills of the forces.

They demonstrated full integration between the different units in the successful destruction of enemy positions. The maritime and air components showcased the artillery support that can be provided for land troops, especially with amphibious landing in the Bantoot Beach. According to experts, environment can be one of the biggest challenges for amphibious landing but that can be overcome by the use of right equipment. Offensive operations were conducted with live ammunition, in addition to landing operations alongside the navy, and coordinating efforts of the joint combined land, air and naval forces to highlight the power and effectiveness of joint fire power. The focus was on planning, preparation, movement and practise and then the assault. For the land exercise, there was a combination of operations by land and air forces.

Lt Col Peter Winton, Media EX SS3, British Forces Sareea 3, said, “Working with Oman is the demonstration of our commitment to the Gulf security. Our friendship with Oman is longstanding; now, it has reached this level of complexity and commitment.” Answering Observer’s question on the six-week experience, Lt Col Winton said, “It has been a challenging environment. It has been a test for the personnel and the equipment. We have been out in the desert, living on vehicles and working on vehicles and that has been the real success. The guys have enjoyed the challenge and they have come through happy and smiling.”

When asked about the learning experience, the Lt Col Winton said, “I think it is a complexity of bringing together so many different aspects together. In the skies, we have got the Typhoons, the fighter aircraft of both Royal Air Force of Oman and Royal Air Force and tankers Challenger 2 on the ground, manoeuvring alongside one another. In the sea, once again it was the Royal Navy and Royal Navy of Oman. It has been a difficult challenge but we have come through together successfully.” The joint military drills are considered the biggest of its kind in the history of the Sultanate, in which different types of equipment and weapons were tested.

The preparation has been on for more than five years, said Lt Col Rob Brown, Lead UK Planned for EX SS3. “To go through all these weeks what we had planned and culminating today successfully in Mahout is a great feeling. The best aspect, I think, has been the relationship we have developed with the Omanis and to sit with people whom I have worked with for so long and to share the experience of coming from planning to all the way to execution is rewarding.”

During these exercises, training was done at all levels, strategic, operational and tactical. All operations such as diplomatic, economic, information and military were activated. More than 70,000 participants from the Sultanate, including different military, security and civil agencies, in addition to 5,500 participants from the British Royal Armed Forces, took part in the exercises. The finale concluded with a fly past.

Lakshmi Kothaneth & Hammam al Badi