U.S. navy in Bahrain holds biggest crisis drill


More than 800 U.S. service members and defence department personnel are taking part in the exercise, dubbed Desert Sailor 07, less than a month after the navy conducted its biggest war games at sea on Iran’s doorstep.
Police cars and dozens of Bahraini security personnel armed with machineguns lined the main road leading to the U.S. navy base, a Reuters witness said.

Security officials had fenced off an area around a supermarket close to the base, where ambulances had congregated around tents, the witness added.
"Desert Sailor 07 is designed to bring the host nation and (the U.S. navy) … together to function as a single crisis management team that will work together to solve any potential issues brought about through a mass casualty scenario," the statement said.

A U.S. navy spokeswoman declined to outline the scenario for the emergency exercise. The last time a similar drill was conducted was in March 2005, she said, adding the timing of the drill was not connected to regional events.

Tensions between neighbouring Iran and the West have escalated over Iran’s nuclear programme, and Iran’s capture last month and subsequent release of 15 British sailors.

Tuesday’s exercise will only involve the navy’s base in Bahrain, not ships at sea, and participants include the navy’s explosive ordnance disposal and emergency response teams.

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