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IDF, US naval forces participate with 60 nations in the largest maritime exercise in Middle East

Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt and the U.S. take part in a combined naval training to improve maritime security and freedom of navigation

Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, crown prince, deputy supreme commander and prime minister of Bahrain, center, receives a brief on the GHOST 4 UAV. (Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark Thomas Mahmod)

The largest maritime exercise in the Middle East region kicked off this week with over 60 participating countries and organizations. 

Known as International Maritime Exercise 2022, the 18-day biennial naval training event was launched in a ceremony at U.S. 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.

The combined training includes 9,000 personnel and up to 50 ships operating across two regions. Forces from Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Sudan are taking part in the drill led by the US Navy.

“This level of representation demonstrates shared resolve in preserving the rules-based international order,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “This is a unique opportunity to increase our capabilities and interoperability while strengthening maritime ties.”

The multinational naval exercise is also the largest unmanned exercise in the world with more than 80 unmanned systems from 10 nations participating.

The training allows participating forces to test unmanned systems and artificial intelligence in different scenarios and apply the lessons learned to future real-world operations. The exercise focuses on enhancing capabilities in command and control, sea control, maritime security operations, and mine-countermeasures. It is expected to conclude on Feb. 17. 

During the first day of exercises, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the crown prince and prime minister of Bahrain, witnessed part of the training and was briefed on new unmanned technologies. Al-Khalifa stressed the importance of protecting international maritime traffic from threats that adversely impact global trade.

Israel and its Abraham Accords partners from the Gulf - UAE and Bahrain - held their first publicly acknowledged naval exercise in November under U.S. auspices. The goal of the shared drill was to increase maritime cooperation between the three nations against the terror threat from Iran. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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