Large-scale Argonaut exercise ends

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The multinational civil-military cooperation exercise “ARGONAUT 2023” occurred in the Republic’s maritime, air and land area and was successfully completed Friday.

The exercise was conducted by the Defence Ministry in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, Civil Defence and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, under the coordination of the National Guard, with the participation of government agencies.

The three-phase exercise came soon after Cyprus was used as a staging post to evacuate foreign nationals from Sudan.

We will continue to increase our capabilities towards assisting any humanitarian operation or contingency in the region, National Guard Chief  Lt. General Demokritos Zervakis said during a drill at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca.

Lt. General Zervakis said Argonaut will remain “an outstanding opportunity to enhance the corporation with all neighbouring and friendly countries, always in the pursuit of peace and stability in this area of the world”.

“This exercise demonstrated clearly that the Republic of Cyprus plays a constructive regional role and functions as a reliable interlocutor, acting as an interconnecting bridge and a peace facilitator between North Africa, the Near and Middle East and the European Union”.

Crisis in Sudan an opportunity to cooperate closely, test Cyprus’ readiness to react, said Ambassador Mavromatis

“It also gave us the opportunity to see in practice how we can best use our resources and implement our plan to offer effective evacuation not only to the UK and Cypriots but also to individuals from another 27 partner countries such as the USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada and Switzerland.”

Mavromatis said that during the Sudan airlift, 31 flights were carried out, 29 by the British and two by Australians, which carried 2,611 individuals out of Sudan, 14 of which were of Cypriot descent/connection.

He said the Argonaut drill was executed with the addition of a lessons learnt session stemming from the recent evacuation of non-combatants from Sudan.

The first phase included a tabletop exercise on implementing National Plan “ESTIA”, with a scenario of evacuation and reception of non-combatants from a crisis area.

Some 16 state agencies participated in the scenario, and representatives of the 18 countries participated in the NEOCG (Non-combatant Evaluation Operations Coordination Group).

The second phase of the exercise dealt with a Search and Rescue scenario and was conducted under the coordination of the JRCC Larnaca.

The Special National Plan “TEFKROS” was implemented to deal with a naval and an aircraft accident.

A total of 38 aeronautical assets and services with 800 personnel from Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, Italy, and Israel, participated in the SAR scenario.

More than 200 diplomats and military were involved from 17 countries, including the UN and the EU.

The third and final phase of the exercise was the real-life implementation of the National Plan “ESTIA” to deal with the reception of non-combatants from foreign countries to Cyprus and their reception by the state agencies.