ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Nestled among the lonely dunes of Rub 'al-Khali, the sand desert of United Arab Emirates, soldiers from Task Force Spartan and the United Arab Emirates Land Forces officially kicked off Iron Union 12 here Dec. 8, 2019.A U.S. Army Central-led field training exercise, Iron Union is a quarterly recurring bilateral training exercise in partnership with the UAELF to strengthen military-to-military partnerships while expanding partner capacity and building operational readiness.Integrating operational capabilities is also a key component of the exercise.U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Terry R. Ferrell, commanding general of USARCENT, who attended the opening and said the ability for both militaries to train together at the lowest level, from private to general, was paramount if the time comes to fight together."The partnership that our two countries have is evident right here," Ferrell said to a formation of American and Emirati soldiers, "and it is that partnership that will allow us to stand strong against any threat in this region."The UAE is a significant partner for the U.S. within the region, and recurring, multinational training exercises such as Iron Union demonstrate a commitment by all participating nations to promoting regional stability."Regional stability is important to all of us," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Stewart, commander of 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment, the U.S. component participating in Iron Union 12."That we can work together to be interoperable in times of peaceā€¦is better than figuring it out in times of war, so it's very important for us to come here, be here and look people eye-to-eye," Stewart said.When looking ahead, Stewart said he hopes his soldiers learn it's not always about going 100 miles per hour to reach an objective and accomplish the mission."It's about much more than that," he said of the next two weeks here at Iron Union."It's about taking the time out to ensure we are on the same level with our partners because we need to learn from them as much as we they are learning from us."