U.S. Marines began a four-day amphibious exercise Sunday in the Persian Gulf, military officials said. They refused to say whether the maneuvers involve practice for an invasion of Kuwait.
Few details about the exercise were provided. Military officials refused to disclose the exact location of the practice landings, the number of Marines involved or whether forces from other countries are taking part. But they indicated that U.S. warplanes are taking part.
The operation, code-named Amphibex, is the fourth amphibious exercise since Operation Desert Shield began in early August after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
The military said that elements of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the Navy’s Amphibious Task Group 2 are taking part.
The exercise is smaller than last month’s Imminent Thunder maneuvers. That six-day exercise involved thousands of Marines, sailors and fliers and was described as the biggest since the U.S. deployment began.
Unlike Imminent Thunder, the Amphibex drill allows forces to fire their weapons in the air and on the ground, officials reported.
The Marines are also slated to use helicopters and Hovercraft in the latest exercise, scheduled to end Wednesday.
Officials declined comment when asked whether Amphibex is a rehearsal for an actual landing in Kuwait.
Desert Shield’s amphibious capability is provided by 45,000 men of the 1st, 4th and 7th Marine expeditionary brigades.
They make up the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the largest Marine force assembled since the Vietnam War.
An additional amphibious group made up of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C., is expected to be deployed by mid-January. It has roughly 45,000 men.