In yet another show of force and commitment to the Middle East, more than 200 U.S. commandos participated in the annual Special Operations Forces (SOF) exercise Invincible Sentry 2019 in Qatar.
The American special operators were joined by more than 400 Qatari commandos from the Joint Special Forces, the premier Qatari SOF unit, and Internal Security Forces, a law enforcement agency. The exercise included various scenarios which took place around Qatar, such as hostage rescues, raids, medical evacuations, and a combined strike on a terrorist camp.
Among the American units that participated were the 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG), the 5th Special Forces Group (5th SFG), and elements from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR).
“Invincible Sentry 2019 was a historic exercise with one of our most important security and military partners in the region, the state of Qatar,” said William Grant, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires in the American Embassy at Doha, according to DVIDS. “Both U.S. and Qatari forces have come out of this exercise better coordinated, more in sync, and stronger in every respect to respond to security threats in the region.”
The SOF exercise was organized by the government of Qatar in conjunction with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and it ran March 21-27. The training event was meant to strengthen regional networks and improve the interoperability of participant SOF units. However, the exercise has also an additional U.S-specific role. It’s CENTCOM’s way to determine the readiness and capabilities of its subordinate units.
“Green Berets are America’s premier partnered Special Operations Force,” said a U.S. Army Special Forces officer who participated in the exercise. “What we bring to the fight, by doing everything with and through our partners, is a capability that far outweighs our small teams. We’d like to think some conflicts will never come to fruition because of our persistent engagement at key locations around the world.”
It is interesting how the 10th SFG, which has Europe and Northern Africa as area of operations, provided more operators to the exercise than the 5th SFG, which is focused on the Middle East. This suggests the latter is overstrained by the constant commitments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Since the first Gulf War in 1991, when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein made a foolish and ultimately fatal decision to invade Kuwait, U.S. presence in Qatar has been significant. For instance, CENTCOM has its forward headquarters and a Combined Air Operation Center in the country. Moreover, Qatar’s importance increases due to its strategic location, inside the Persian Gulf and right across Iran.