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Exercise Saif Sareea II was a major military exercise in September and October 2001 involving the military of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was the largest single deployment of UK forces since the Gulf War. Over 22,500 personnel, 6,500 vehicles, 21 naval vessels, 49 fixed wing aircraft and 44 helicopters were deployed.

The presence of such a large military force in the Middle East gave United Kingdom and United States commanders important assets for conducting the war against the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the UK contribution to which was known as Operation Veritas.


  • To test the UK's expeditionary warfare strategy, particularly the effectiveness of the tri-service Joint Rapid Reaction Force.
  • Highlight shortcomings in equipment and practices of such a deployment
  • Provide training
  • Support foreign policy objectives (co-operation and maintain relationships with allies in the Persian Gulf region)


This exercise illustrated a number of problems in the British Army; the traditional "make-do" attitude to shortages of modern equipment and essential spares fell down in the face of the Omani weather.

  • Soldiers who had not been issued with desert boots suffered from foot problems as their combat boots melted in the heat.
  • The 66 Challenger 2 tanks suffered from poor reliability. This was not due to any inherent defect with the tank, but rather due to the failure of the Army to adequately 'desertise' the tanks (apparently on grounds of cost). The failure to fit appropriate filters led to substantial engine damage due to the ingress of sand and dust. Two squadrons of tanks were withdrawn from the exercise.
  • The SA80A1 rifle (the unmodified variant) suffered stoppages and jamming due to sand and dust ingress.

Some of these problems - mostly with Challenger 2 and the AS-90 self-propelled gun (which proved vulnerable to spontaneous combustion in Oman) were fixed in time for the invasion of Iraq in 2003; others, such as the failure to issue decent desert boots, still remain.

Some equipment performed extremely well in the operation.

  • The then recently introduced C-17 provided a level of strategic lift not previously available to the RAF.


Royal Air ForceEdit

Royal NavyEdit

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