U.S. Minnesota National Guard partners with Kuwaiti counterparts for exercise

Kuwait Special Forces soldiers, armed with automatic weapons, quickly navigate four-tactical vehicles through the compound and come to a screeching halt at strategic locations in the vicinity of their objective. Immediately, the soldiers dismount their vehicle and secure the area and wait for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team not far behind. Sgt. Bill Boecker reports on U.S. Army’s website.

U.S. Minnesota Guard partners with Kuwaiti counterparts for exercise
A Kuwait Special Forces Soldier uses the corner of a tactical vehicle for cover while pulling security on May 2, 2019, during a joint exercise with a simulated terrorist, explosive ordnance, and chemical situation at the Kuwait Special Forces Training Center (Picture source: Sgt. Bill Boecker)

Soldiers of Task Force Spartan gathered at the Kuwait Special Forces Training Center with counterparts from the Kuwait Ministry of Interior and Kuwait National Guard on May 2, 2019, for Al Watan One, joint terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) exercise. Al Watan One was crafted to build a shared understanding of procedures employed by Kuwait civil authorities and U.S. forces when reacting to natural and manmade disasters, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Moore, chief of civil affairs for Task Force Spartan and the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.

Just as Special Forces Soldiers moved in, the Kuwait SWAT team rolled into the compound, dismounted and organized along an exterior building wall in a tactical, breaching formation. Once given the signal, the SWAT team methodically swept through the building room by room, where they found terrorists, a chemical lab and WMDs.

With the perimeter and scene secure, Kuwait Special Forces delivered instructions to the suspected terrorists via a vehicle-mounted loudspeaker and detained them on the spot. With the terrorist threat mitigated, Kuwait and U.S. explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams moved in to disarm the WMDs. "We wanted to gain a greater understanding of how Kuwait's emergency response reacts to a terrorist situation," said Moore. "They enjoy working with U.S. Forces, exchanging knowledge with us; and also, they are rightfully proud of their capabilities to manage a crisis, and wanted to show us how well they respond to emergencies."

An EOD team member of Task Force Spartan's 744th EOD Company and the KMOI EOD entered the building wearing heavy bomb suits. They got to work disarming and destroying the two explosive devices found by the SWAT team. After careful examination of each device, the first ordnance was successfully x-rayed, moved and disarmed, while the other was rigged for remote detonation.

Following a countdown and controlled detonation, the building was cleared by EOD technicians who gave the thumbs-up for the final phase of the exercise to begin.

Al Watan One was crafted following a subject matter expert exchange at the Kuwait Ministry of the Interior's Civil Defense Headquarters, where service members and civilians from 18 different organizations throughout Kuwait convened, Moore said. Realistic conditions were set for the exercise with everything from the simulated terrorists to the staged chemical lab.

Chemical teams from Kuwait Ministry of the Interior, Kuwait National Guard and Task Force Spartan arrived at the scene in full chemical protective gear, armed with radiation and chemical detectors. Following an opportunity to learn more about each other's standard operating procedures, the U.S. and Kuwaiti teams were able to systematically detect and react to chemical and radiation levels throughout the building. "Our counterparts showed that they enjoy working with U.S. forces and we were able to reciprocate that feeling," said Moore. "We were all proud of the capabilities that were showcased on how to manage a crisis, and it showed us just how well both Kuwait and the U.S. are equipped to respond to emergencies."