Nearly 100 Saudi and U.S. troops gathered for the closing ceremony of the Earnest Leader 17 exercise, held at the Northwest Area Command’s Tactical Training Center near Tabuk, August 1 through 10. Earnest Leader is an annual military to military exercise, conducted with Royal Saudi Land Forces and U.S. Army personnel to promote military cooperation, peacekeeping and participation in regional security programs.
Maj. Gen. Dhafer bin Ali Al-Shehri, the Royal Saudi Land Force northwest area commander and Maj. Gen. Terrence J. McKenrick, U.S. Army Central deputy commanding general were both in attendance at the closing ceremony held on August 10.
“We are very pleased with what we have seen between the interaction of our personnel and the U.S. personnel, enhancing their relationships,” said Dhafer during his closing statements. “We are also very happy to see the spirit of cooperation between all participants and the lessons learned that were gained from this exercise.”
“The successful execution of this exercise is a testament to the Royal Saudi Land forces, the United States Army, planners, Soldiers, as well as the gracious hospitality that has been extend to us,” said McKenrick.
This year’s Earnest Leader exercise focused Saudi and U.S. troops on border security and the logistical challenges faced in today’s irregular warfare environment.
“Our goal was to improve the interoperability between ourselves and the RSLF,” said Col. John Woodward, 3rd Armored Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division commander. “More importantly our aim was to increase the efficiency in the sustainment war fighting function, and I think our teams achieved that.”
A small contingent of Soldiers from U.S. Army Central, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, the 149th Military Engagement Team, and the 3rd Armored Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division worked with their RSLF counterparts in order to successfully plan and maneuver through various logistics and sustainment-based, computer simulated scenarios.
“Our Soldiers have had a great time, not just in the training, but also learning from the RSLF and how they do things,” said Woodward. “We’ve both been able to benefit through this partnership.”
Earnest Leader, now in its 13th iteration, is a reoccurring Saudi and U.S. exercise that sets to demonstrate both nations’ commitment and shared obligation for promoting stability and security to the region.
“As this exercise comes to a close, our planners look forward to working on our next exercise,” said McKenrick. “We’ll continue the hybrid warfare focus and apply the lessons we have learned here at this exercise to further integrate our forces and improve future exercises.”
Article by Master Sgt. Mark Hanson, Centcom