DOHA, Qatar –
U.S. Central Command hosted Invincible Sentry 21 (IS 21), an exercise between Special Operations Forces and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) elements from both the U.S. and Qatar around Doha, Qatar, March 21-25, 2021.
Invincible Sentry is a recurring exercise held with different partner nations each year within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. This year’s exercise composed of a crisis response scenarios evaluated the readiness and capabilities of U.S. and Qatari forces responding to a regional emergency.
IS 21 offered a unique opportunity for U.S. and Qatari forces to practice and develop their skills prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will take place at locations around Doha.
“Invincible Sentry 21 is a multi-national exercise where we test joint capabilities with some of our allied forces as well as U.S. Forces,” said Army Capt. Shelby Hensley, company commander, 318th Chemical Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Spartan. “Here we are going to be testing our response capabilities as well as the response capabilities for our host nation ahead of the World Cup in 2022.”
The main exercise took place near the end of March; however, the train up for the exercise was held earlier in the month, and was primarily conducted by 318th Chemical Company to a group of U.S. and Qatari forces.
The U.S. established diplomatic relations with the Government of Qatar in 1972 and has continued to work closely with Qatar on a wide range of issues.
This was the second time that Qatar has hosted Invincible Sentry in the past three years, allowing the U.S. and Qatari forces to strengthen interoperability with a key partner. By participating in this exercise, Invincible Sentry has delivered a clear message: relationships matter.
“I think it’s important to keep those relationships with all of our allied nations,” said Hensley. “It’s important to establish that common goal and operational language. We all do things a little differently, but if something were to happen, it helps to know how we could work together to accomplish something good.”
Col. Mohammad Al-Otaibi, Qatari planner for Invincible Sentry, agrees when he said that Qatari forces remain committed to the partnership, increasing interoperability between themselves and their U.S. partners.
The U.S. operates in a region with numerous violent extremists. There are no easy victories or quick wins, but Invincible Sentry is one way to deliver a unified message of deterrence to those who wish to do harm.
If harm is done, however, and a crisis arises, the U.S. and Qatar want to be prepared.
These are goals that both the U.S. and Qatari forces share.
“The objective of the exercise was to focus on furthering the abilities of both the Qatar Armed Forces and the U.S. Forces in responding to crisis and stress testing the operation capabilities of both forces,” said Mohammad Al-Otaibi. “These objectives have been met with great success.”
Throughout IS 21, the U.S. and Qatar integrated processes, systems, and command and control functions during culminating training events that tested Special Forces and CBRN response to simulated chemical weapons, attacks on public locations throughout the city, and reacting to various emergency situations.
Exercises like this help to better prepare Qatar for the upcoming World Cup as well as to fine-tune their critical, crisis response capabilities for any real-world event.
“The exercise is a step,” said Army Lt. Col. Thomas Ludwig, IS21 lead planner for Special Operations Command Central. “I think it really helps set the foundation for the bilateral partnership. It’s important to not only train, but to build and maintain those relationships to keep us moving forward.”
Ludwig said the U.S. Forces who were already in Qatar for a Joint Combined Exchanged Training laid the base-line for the events to come during IS 21 pre-exercise training.
“This exercise allowed them to expand into planning,” said Ludwig. “The U.S. team saw growth [with the Qatari soldiers] between the first two objectives. Both locations were extremely complex, many contingencies, and they really did well controlling the persons of interest and intelligence.”
Exercises, such as Invincible Sentry, stand as an ideal way for combined military training to prepare forces to operate together if and when the need arises.
The U.S. military participates in more than 80 exercises with partner nations in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility each year.
These types of exercises are designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships and promote regional security. IS 21 is no different, producing bonds that are developed by training together toward a common goal—maintaining prepared ready and responsive forces to defend nations and protect their citizens.