ALJUBAIL (Saudi Arabia): Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with several other world leaders Monday witnessed a grand closing ceremony of an unprecedented 24-country military exercise Gulf Shield 1.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud received the leaders, defence and foreign ministers, and heads of different armed forces at the event, held in the desert around 140 kilometres north east of Dammam.
Apart from the prime minister, Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior officials of the three services witnessed the ceremony, besides Pakistan's Ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Vice Admiral (R) Khan Hasham Bin Saddique.
General Raheel Sharif, the head of Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), a coalition of 41 countries, also witnessed the event.
The joint tri-services exercise held along the East Coast of the Kingdom under the Eastern Command of Royal Saudi Land Forces was designed to boost coordination and provide a hands-on experience of working together to achieve common objectives.
The gigantic exercise concluded with an equally impressive show full of fire and fury as shock waves from distant explosions reverberated the entire arena. The troops demonstrated their skills in coordinated attack using the air, ground and naval forces. The JF-17 fighters of Pakistan Air Force pounded the targets to soften up.
It was followed by an assault of ground forces in armoured personnel carriers and air cover of the deadly Apache gunships. The marine forces from the sea breached the enemy compounds as Special Services troops cleared the remaining miscreants.
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The king and the dignitaries witnessed the ceremony from a hall with huge glass walls on three sides and dozens of large TV screens for a panoramic view of the desert with the Persian Gulf in the backdrop.
The fire power show culminated with a parade of troops from participating countries and a display of guns, weapon systems, long range artillery and missiles used by the Saudi and other regional forces, and a fly-past.
The King later had a group photograph with the heads of visiting delegations and then hosted a luncheon in their honour.
The leaders, who attended the ceremony, included Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajid, and presidents of Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso.
The largest military exercise of its kind was participated by countries that rank amongst the strongest 10 armies in the world.
Troops of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force C-130, JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets, Pakistan Navy Ships, and Commandos from Special Services Group participated in the exercise.
Wide array of fighter jets ranging from F-5s, JF-17s, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, Tornados and Typhoons are participating in the Gulf Shield joint exercise.
The objectives of the Gulf Shield include effective measures to counter threats and challenges against the regional countries, requiring a unified and integrated collective effort to deter and counter these threats.
The countries participating with troops include those from; Pakistan, Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, UAE, Chad, Guinea, Bahrain, Malaysia, Mauritania, Jordan, Gambia and Kuwait.
The countries participating as observers are; Bangladesh, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, USA, UK, Cameron islands, Oman and Niger.
Pakistan Navy vessels PNS Tipu Sultan, PNS Himmat and Maritime Security Ship Basool participated in the exercise at the Arabian Gulf.
The exercise focused on irregular warfare, coastal defence, air defence and search and rescue at sea to enhance interoperability amongst the participating countries. Warships from Bahrain, KSA, Kuwait, Turkey, UAE and USA also took part in the Exercise. The Pakistan Navy was represented with a large number of seagoing units with embarked helos, Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, special forces and marines personnel.
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