TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club(YJC)_This year’s exercises, which began on Monday and are “hosted” by the US Naval Forces Central Command and the Navy's Fifth Fleet, will be the largest IMX held to date, according to Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, who commands both forces.
“This year’s iteration is the largest yet, expanding in size and geography; including all essential elements of maritime security operations,” said Malloy. “We’ve grown participation by about twenty nations, are covering an unprecedented amount of ground in the region, and our multinational team is taking part in more training scenarios than ever before.”
This year’s IMX is the sixth of its kind and involves four main phases: staff training, table-top and classroom exercises, fleet training exercise (FTX), and force redeployment.
A US Navy press release stated that the IMX 19 will be the “most dynamic” iteration yet, covering more than nearly 2.5 million square miles of waters in the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The maritime exercise will feature operations at the three main regional choke points of the Suez Canal, the Bab-al-Mandeb and Strait of Hormuz.
The US Navy release noted that the IMX 19 will feature various air, surface and underwater mine countermeasure operations as well as harbor force protection scenarios using underwater drones.
The participants will also hold an infrastructure protection symposium and a search-and-seizure seminar in Manama, Bahrain.
The list of participants also includes seven international organizations as well as different civilian and maritime industry organizations.
“We all recognize that as navies, the maritime has extreme value in promoting stabilization, security and promoting the flow of commerce back and forth,” Malloy said back in July, when he hosted the Final Planning Conference of the IMX19 in Manama.
The first IMX was conducted in 2012 while the most recent iteration was staged in 2017. This year’s exercises will conclude on November 12.
The IMX 19 comes amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the United States in the Persian Gulf.
The US, under President Donald Trump, has been trying to persuade its allies into a maritime coalition purportedly seeking to boost security in the Persian Gulf, after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence.
Iran has categorically rejected the allegations and warned regional neighbors against “false flag” operations by outsiders.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly warned that it would react to any attempt to undermine the security of the region, advising the US and its allies to leave regional security affairs to the countries of the region.
During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in late September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani unveiled the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), which seeks to establish long-term peace in the Persian Gulf.
He said back then that sustainable peace was simply not achievable as long as outsiders were present in the region.