DOHA, Qatar – The Ferocious Falcon-5 (FF5) exercise, held in the fall of 2023, stands as a quintessential example of this collaborative spirit. Bringing together armed forces from several nations, including nations like the United States, France, Turkey, and Italy and hosted by Qatar, FF5 was more than a mere display of military might; it was a testament to the unifying power of strategic partnerships in modern warfare.
Commencing late October, 2023, and spanning over two weeks, FF5 was held under the patronage of the Qatar Armed Forces.
The primary objective of the Ferocious Falcon exercises is multifaceted. It aimed at raising combat efficiency, unifying combat concepts among the armed forces, and strengthening the bonds of friendship and joint action. Additionally, the exercise served as a platform for the exchange of experiences and tactics, which is crucial in an era when the nature of warfare is continuously evolving.
Directed by Qatari Armed Forces Staff Maj. Gen. Rashid bin Ali Al Qashouti, FF5 was not just a routine drill but a comprehensive tactical exercise simulating real-world combat scenarios. This involved complex operations including air and land maneuvers between the different partner nations to test the capabilities and readiness of participating forces in a variety of challenging environments.
U.S. Army 2nd. Lt Isidro Osuna, Task Force Spartan lead planner for exercises in Qatar, who built, ran and operated this exercise from cradle to grave, was able to see first-hand the fluidity required for this exercise.
“The biggest challenge we had was the sudden change in timelines, whether it was timelines or change in plans. Thankfully though, we were able to adapt and react well. We already had plans on top of plans if it went south. Early on we established communications and support for our plans.”
The exercise emphasized the importance of interoperability – the ability of different military forces to work cohesively in joint operations.
The strategic importance of FF5 cannot be overstated. In a world where security challenges are increasingly transnational in nature, the ability of different countries to operate jointly is essential. FF5 offered a unique opportunity for participating countries to not only display their military prowess but also learn from each other. Such exercises enhance mutual understanding and trust; key components in maintaining global peace and security.
U.S. Army Capt. Rose Regan, Task Force Spartan medical officer, discussed the work during FF5 with Qatari Armed Forces. “What we’ve done here is meet with the Qataris and share our setup and capabilities. It’s great how we can look at each other’s equipment to see what we have, what they have, and they’re very impressed with all the things we bring out to the field.”
Participants gained invaluable experience in operating alongside forces from different countries, understanding their tactics, and adapting to varied combat environments. The exercise also provided insights into areas requiring improvement, ensuring that future collaborations would be even more effective.
“I think any physical assistant having the chance for these exercises or to volunteer for a deployment is absolutely worth your time,” Regan said. “Not only that but working with infantry and artillery is not something I get to do on the civilian side or even in the National Guard side.”
Organizing an exercise of this scale was not without its challenges. Coordinating the movements and operations of diverse military units, each with their own procedures and protocols, required meticulous planning and communication. This compounds into itself more so when adding another language, culture and customs. However, the successful conclusion of FF5 demonstrated the effectiveness of this joint endeavor.
Beyond both the Qatari Armed Forces and U.S. Army, the Italian army made claims to the success of the exercise. In coordination with Task Force Thunder, the Italian 5th Artillery Regiment tested out their use of the HIMARS weapons system for the first time.
Italian Army Chief Sgt. Maj. Nicola Serra, field artillery specialist, spoke about the exercise.
“We studied all the information down to the smallest details. This is the most important part of our work when working in a joint exercise. Even though we are well trained – one of the most challenging things is the coordination between different countries.”
Italian Army Lt. Alessandro Milazzo, liaison fire officer a part of the 5th Artillery Regiment, described how functionality of the exercises is created by each country being able to work together.
“Thanks to the willingness and flexibility of the U.S. Army, we managed to organize the joint artillery activity. The two sections, the first one was Italian and the second was American.”
These two partner nations came together for the first time on the HIMARS weapons system, making it a pivotal moment in the realms of defense and diplomacy.
Beyond the tactical and operational aspects, FF5 had significant diplomatic and strategic implications. It showcased Qatar’s growing role in international security affairs and its capability to host and manage large-scale international military exercises.
Serra expands on the theme of diplomacy and defense by adding that safety is the most important part of our work when working in a joint exercise.
“Even though we are well trained – one of the most challenging things is the coordination between different countries,” Serra said, “being prepared for coordination, security and movements. We studied all the information down to the smallest details.”
Furthermore, the participation of major NATO members alongside Qatar, a key ally in the Middle East, symbolized the strengthening of geopolitical ties.
“You’re going into a country where you are a guest,” Osuna said. “You have to go in there very humble and be able to react to changing and shifting timelines.”
“Ferocious Falcon-5” was more than a demonstration of military strength; it was a vivid illustration of the power of international cooperation in the face of evolving global security challenges. The exercise underscored the necessity of joint action, mutual understanding, and the sharing of expertise in ensuring preparedness for the complexities of modern warfare.
“At the end of the experience,” Milazzo said. “We will carry away great memories with a lot of lessons learned from the technical procedures inside a multinational and joint exercise.”
As the world navigates through an era of unprecedented security challenges, exercises like FF5 are invaluable in fostering an environment of collaboration and trust among nations.
“The greatest accomplishment is, funny you should ask that,” Osuna said. “Just being able to get all the vehicles, equipment and soldiers out to the training exercise was mission success. I think the biggest success was being able to adjust to the growing environment and development timelines.”
The partner nations not only prepare armed forces for potential conflicts but also send a strong message of unity and shared commitment to maintaining global peace and security. “Ferocious Falcon-5” was not just a successful military exercise; it was a beacon of international unity and strategic partnership.