ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (NNS) -- Exercise Leading Edge 2010, a multinational exercise hosted by U.S. Central Command and supported by U.S. government interagency, began with opening ceremonies at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces Officer's Club in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Jan. 25.
The exercise included 30 nations and focused on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an international agreement designed to increase awareness and share knowledge and information in regards to preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMD)proliferation.
The PSI was created in 2003 under President George W. Bush and with support from other signatory nations, said Cmdr. Carlos Guzman, military affairs officer in the Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives for the U.S. Department of State.
Guzman went on to explain that the PSI benefits the participating nations by providing them with a forum and standard methodology to share their lessons and tactics as well as streamlining the approach to stopping weapons proliferation.
"By itself, the PSI does not create a new law. It puts countries together to cooperate and create new ideas to enforce and use the laws to stop the flow of cargo in question," said Guzman.
"The agencies that make proliferation security happen around the world are not just military departments but also the ministry of interior, customs and border patrol and coast guard. This is an interagency as well as a multinational exercise," said U.S. Air Force Col. Ted Bale, deputy director of the Exercises and Training Directorate for U.S. Central Command.
Bale explained that planning efforts included visits by participants of both countries to Tampa, Fla., Miami and Abu Dhabi in the ten months leading up to the exercise's opening ceremony.
Following the opening ceremony, the next few days were full of events, discussions and demonstrations designed for partnership nations concerned about WMD proliferation, to refine interdiction tactics, techniques and procedures and study related challenges in a positive and mutually beneficial environment.
"It was three phases," said Bale. "The first phase was a tactical phase which centered around visit, board, search and seizure interdiction where the U.S. Coast Guard Middle East Training Team provided training to boarding teams from other participating countries. Then there was an operational level phase, which was based in the port of Mina Zayed, (UAE), where we explored issues of customs, law enforcement and other port security issues. Then we had a strategic table top where we posed questions about post interdiction topics which included legal and customs issues."
At the port of Mina Zayed Jan. 26, there were static displays and even a live boarding demonstration.
"We showed them how we do things, they showed us how they do things; we both got something out of that," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. R. Benjamin "Boats" Bartlett, U.S. Central Command director for Exercises and Training.
"I think it benefited a lot of the countries in this area because they have some of the same equipment that we do. It gave them a chance to see how we utilize it and take advantage of the capabilities that the airplane, the tank, the ship might have. It allowed them to see what that equipment can do for them with people that have been using it for a while. At the same time we got some pretty good ideas out of it as well. They utilize the equipment in a certain way we might not have thought about," said Bartlett.
"Our largest measure of success is the relationships that we will build by doing a joint exercise in this multinational environment. In the PSI arena we are hoping that an additional three countries might become PSI signatories as a result of attending this exercise," said Bale.
He went on to say how particularly pleased he was about the hospitality of the Emirati hosts.
"They have been an excellent host and partner in the 10 months of development and planning that resulted in the exercise this week," said Bale.
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