Intel: US conducts separate military drills with UAE, Israel despite coronavirus

al-monitor US Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, fire an M1A1 Abrams tank main cannon while conducting live-fire training during exercise Native Fury 20 in the United Arab Emirates, seen in a picture uploaded March 22, 2020.  Photo by Twitter/@USMARCENT.

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us foreign policy, coronavirus, military exercise, covid-19, military drill, us troops

Mar 24, 2020

The United States conducted military exercises with Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today and Monday despite the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that American and Emirati forces went ahead with the biennial Native Fury exercise on Monday, which involved thousands of troops storming an imaginary city at al-Hamra military base in the UAE.

And today, the United States and Israeli air forces went ahead with a joint exercise involving F-35 fighter jets. Israel permitted the drill despite the country-wide quarantine because it involved no physical ground contact.

Why it matters: The UAE exercise, which takes place every two years, was carried out less than 200 miles from Iran, where tensions have boiled over in recent months following the US strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq earlier this year. The area where al-Hamra base lies is also home to vast oil reserves and a nuclear power plant. 

For its part, the Israel Defense Forces said they characterized the aerial drill with the United States as part of its general training schedule, rather than a response to any particular threat.

What’s next: While the UAE exercise concluded Monday, the aerial drill with Israel is scheduled to last through Thursday.

Know more: While the coronavirus outbreak did not deter the United States from conducting its previously scheduled military drills, the pandemic has forced “temporary adjustments” in the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Notably, the United States has pulled out troops from Iraq who had previously been training Iraqi security forces, as Bryant Harris reported on Monday.