Thomas Wictor

There are a LOT of first times happening

There are a LOT of first times happening

Here are some of the first times that are happening in the world of military exercises.

March 4, 2015: Azerbaijani Air Force join first ever military drills abroad

Turkish and Azerbaijani air forces started joint drills in Turkey’s Konya region on March 3. The exercise turned to be remarkable as it is the Azerbaijani Air Forces’ first ever attendance in a military drill abroad.

Six fighters and 106 personnel of the Azerbaijani Air Forces joined the ongoing drills TURAZ Sahini-2015 alongside their Turkish counterparts.

The drills that will last until April 2 are expected to see the active involvement of fighting jets MIG-29 and F-16 from the both air forces.

Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said TURAZ Sahini-2015 military training was organized as part of the plan for military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Three MIG-29 combat jets, three Su-25 fighters and a military transport aircraft Il-76 of the Azerbaijani Air Forces will reportedly take part in the drills.

April 17, 2015: Pakistan, Russia to hold first-ever joint military exercises

Pakistan and Russia have agreed to hold first-ever joint military exercises as part of their enhanced defence cooperation, in a sign of increasing bonhomie between the Cold War-era adversaries.

The agreement was reached during a meeting in Moscow between Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, Express Tribune reported.

Pakistan recently completed a month-long exercise in Saudi Arabia, in which engineer commandos trained in mountain and urban warfare.


April 30, 2015: Chinese and Russian Navies to Conduct First Ever Mediterranean Surface Exercises in May

Six Russian and three Chinese naval ships will meet in the Mediterranean next month to conduct a series of surface exercises to include live fire drills, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.

Joint Sea 2015-I will be the first time the two navies have trained in the Mediterranean and is a sign of deepening military-to-military cooperation between Russia and China.

June 11, 2015: Egypt and Russia conduct naval exercises in the Mediterranean

Egypt and Russia started joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, it has been announced. The manoeuvres will continue until Sunday.

A spokesman for the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, Captain Vyacheslav Trojachev, told Russian News Agency that ships from both navies left the port of Alexandria on Wednesday morning. Over the next few days, he added, they will carry out defence and anti-aircraft drills along with search and rescue exercises. Russian vessels taking part include the guided missile cruiser Moskva, a sailing barge and an oil tanker for refuelling at sea. The Egyptian navy has deployed two frigates and two cruisers as well as its own tanker for supplies.

The naval exercise, codenamed “Friendship Bridge 2015″, is the first joint military exercise between the two countries.

These exercises are important in and of themselves because they’re the first of their kind. But if you dig a little deeper, they become fascinating. Let’s start with the Egyptian-Russian naval exercises. Reuters adds more detail.

The eight-day drills off the Mediterranean Egyptian port of Alexandria, beginning today, will include supply and communication at sea, search operations, all forms of defence at sea and firing exercises…

Russia is contributing the missile cruiser Moskva, corvette Samum, landing ship Alexander Shabalin, tanker Ivan Bubnov and a tugboat, while Egypt is contributing the frigates Taba and Damiyat, the tanker Shatalin, two patrol boats and two F-16 fighters.

Well, the warships are all OFFENSIVE assets, as are the F-16 fighters. A landing ship is used in amphibious assaults. The Alexander Shabalin is a large landing ship (LLS).


Look at all the guns! The bow opens to disgorge tanks and assault troops on a beach.


The Egyptians and Russians were training to attack, not defend.

How about the Chinese-Russian naval exercises? Well, another article explains what’s actually happening.

For China, the broader Mediterranean region is of real interest in terms of both energy security and trade.

The Mediterranean constitutes the western end of the “New Silk Road,” the Chinese project to link China with markets and producers across Central Asia and into Europe and the Middle East. In order to provide the Silk Road with a western maritime outlet, Chinese companies have poured considerable resources into modernizing and expanding Mediterranean ports, including the Port of Piraeus outside of Athens, Greece.

Greece! The Chinese want to protect Greece. Remember who else is now protecting Greece?

Israel and Greece signed a status of forces accord in Tel Aviv on Sunday that offers legal defense to both militaries while training in the other’s country.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos visited his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya’alon at the Defense Ministry, where the accord was signed. Israel has only ever signed a similar accord with the US.

A status of forces agreement (SOFA) is signed when you station troops long term in a country. Israel now has a base in Greece. No question. Remember how Italian joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) took part in exercise Eager Lion in Jordan? They were trained by the US how to direct strategic bombers.


Well, here’s another first time having to do with Israel’s friends Greece and Italy.

The U.S. Air Force participated in the first Israeli Blue Flag exercise at Uvda Air Force Base, Israel, Nov. 24-28.

Blue Flag is the largest multinational aerial warfare training exercise hosted by the Israeli air force. The exercise included forces from the U.S., Israel, Italy, and Greece. Its objectives were to improve operational capabilities and combat effectiveness of the participating nations, and to foster combined relations, cultural understanding, and combat experience.

In 2013 the US Air force joined Blue Flag for the first time. That was two years ago.

Still think President Obama hates Israel?

Now, I posted above that in March of this year, the Azerbaijani Air Force took part in its first military drills abroad. Guess what the Azerbaijani Air Force did a month later?

Multinational Exercise ISIK 2015

A detachment of about 30 [Romanian] Air Force personnel and two IAR-330 PUMA SOCAT helicopters participate over 1 and 10 April in the Multinational Exercise IŞIK-2015, conducted at the 3rd Air Base of Konya, Turkey.

The exercise aiming at training personnel in search and rescue missions through combat involves about 250 soldiers and 10 aircraft of the Air Forces of Azerbaijan, Spain, the USA, Turkey and Hungary.

Search and rescue missions. They’re actually called combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions. The Azerbaijanis are training feverishly, this time to rescue downed pilots. This group would have pararescue men in it.


You know who has air bases in Azerbaijan, right?


One last thing.

On June 18, 2015, NATO declared that a new unit was now operational. It’s the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). “Task Force” is usually a euphemism for “special-operations force.” As commander-in-chief, President Obama approved the formation of the VJTR. It contains the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade, specialists in air assaults. That means being inserted into a foreign country by helicopter.

The two men in the maroon berets are Dutch airmobile infantrymen of the VJTF.

Noble Jump SACEUR visit

They’re growing beards! Interesting. Normally they’re clean shaven. My guess is that they’re going somewhere…sandy.

Isn’t it fun to browse news stories on the Internet?