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Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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US Navy and Middle East Allies Hold Largest Ever Naval Exercise

Largest ever

(Photo : US Navy) The United States Fifth Fleet.

The U.S. Navy and navies from more than 20 of its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere recently held their largest ever International Maritime Exercise (IMX) in the face of an unprecedented military build-up among U.S. allies in the region.

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A command post exercise, IMX 2017 was organized and managed by Naval Support Activity Bahrain, the largest U.S. Navy base on the island of Bahrain and home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet.

IMX 2017 consisted of four days of academic training from various presenters, which included the U.S. Naval War College. The topics of the presentations ranged from naval planning to mission analysis, as well as discussing the coordination of forces to increase international cooperation.

The initial academic training was followed by field exercises simulating scenarios that have occurred in the Fifth Fleet's area of operations. The training took place from May 2 to May 18.

"This year was the largest exercise we've seen to date, and the 2019 iteration of the exercise is going to be an even greater opportunity to demonstrate coalition cohesiveness," said Commodore William Warrender of the Royal Navy, UK Maritime Component Commander and International Maritime Exercise Force Commander.

"It is only with continued support of our partners and allies that we can endure with our mission, delivering stability and reducing illicit activity within the region.

"This year's IMX presented an invaluable opportunity to build upon the successes of (the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise) and act as a stepping stone looking forward to IMX 2019."

The Fifth Fleet regularly operates in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The Fifth Fleet is responsible for U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The navy said this group of key players came together to promote interoperability, increase readiness in all facets of defensive maritime warfare, and demonstrate resolve in maintaining regional security and stability and protecting the free flow of commerce.

"Having a significant number of international partners working alongside the civilian shipping industry builds a critical understanding to enhance security and cooperation in the region," said Royal Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ralph Underhill, lead planner for IMX.

The region encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea. Twenty countries comprise this expanse, which includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab al Mandeb Strait at the southern tip of Yemen.

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