Join a Military Exercise and Win a Drone!

William Arkin catalogs the 19 countries participating in the “largest US exercise in the Middle East” this month.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) now says that the exercise is “the largest annual exercise in the Central Command area of operations,” supplanting Bright Star, the exercise series previously conducted in Egypt.  I guess the masters of war planning have a lot of faith in the stability and resilience of the Jordanian government, come to think of it, just like they did about Egypt.

Eager Lion, which most press reports refer to as including 17 participants, actually includes 19 participants, according to CENTCOM.   They include Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, France, Italy, Iraq, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Romania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.  The exercise is touted as “building relationships,” but the 19 nations weren’t named until May 15th: I suppose it’s more like a furtive affair than a relationship.  It’s interesting to note that Turkey, previously reported as participating, evidently is not; and that Iraq is there.

Like Arkin, I’m struck by the addition of Iraq and the apparent withdrawal of Turkey from the exercise.

Particularly given this news:

Iraq is buying unmanned drones from the United States to help protect its southern oil platforms as the OPEC nation ramps up production after the withdrawal of the last American troops, U.S. and Iraqi officials said on Monday.

[snip]

Iraq’s 40,000-strong energy police stepped up protection to deter attacks it expected from Sunni Islamist armed groups linked to al-Qaeda. But officials long complained they were poorly equipped for the task of protecting the vital sector.

As noted, the ostensible threat these drones are targeting are Sunni insurgents. Given the current regime in Iraq and the Shia population in the south, where these drones will be used, that makes sense.

But I wonder whether it doesn’t represent a shift away from Iran. Iraq has been rather disinterested in playing the former colony, not only kicking us out but also siding with Iran last year on oil targets. But if it is participating in a military exercise targeting (even though DOD is pretending it is not) Iran, and then gets drones, it sure seems like it has changed its mind about playing client state to Iran, either.

Maybe someone has been reading about what has happened to Iran’s client state in Libya and what is in process of happening in Syria.

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5 Responses to Join a Military Exercise and Win a Drone!

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JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel I'm having Halloween nightmares that Muschamp somehow beats UGA and possibly even FSU to get yet another year here.
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emptywheel @kashhill Congrats on the new gig!
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emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV If nothing else it's pre-consolation for what will prolly be a drubbing at the hands of ol' noodle arm.
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emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV No no no. We hire coaches who do well in other places, only to experience failure here. Just ask RichRod.
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JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel Congratulations. I understand that the Wolvereenies are hiring both Foley and Muschamp tomorrow!
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emptywheel I believe I beat @JimWhiteGNV in "First University to Axe Their AD & Then Get Rid of Coach Too" contest. Collecting my winnings for losing
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bmaz .@RKTlaw Right. Seriously, how often do DA's send grand juries to deliberate without draft indictment? But that appears to be McCulloch plan
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bmaz RT @RKTlaw: @bmaz To summarize: "Usually we want an indictment. This time, not so much."
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emptywheel .@ddayen What better way to spice up the dynasty rematch of Bush v. Clinton than to throw in a Kennedy?
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bmaz @joshtpm @Will_Bunch @TPM ..appeal of such an administrative decision. The goal of keeping the offensive name may be a joke, but path is not
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bmaz @joshtpm @Will_Bunch @TPM I am not sure it was the best path here (for other reasons), but this is a very normal procedural vehicle for...
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bmaz RT @yarbatman: @Ali_Gharib on why crisis in #US/#Israel relations was a long time coming. The reason? Bibi's boorish #Iran policy. http://…
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