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News | June 27, 2023

U.S. Hosts Two Major Multilateral Maritime Engagement Forums in Middle East

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command

The United States hosted two major multilateral meetings on maritime security with regional partners in Bahrain, June 25-26, involving nearly 200 participants who discussed opportunities for enhancing collaboration at sea.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) hosted a two-day multilateral maritime security meeting for 90 senior military officers and diplomats from 22 nations as well as senior representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain. Officials discussed the current maritime security environment and ways to further enhance maritime security in the region, according to a joint statement released June 26.

“Participants reiterated commitment to uphold navigational rights and operate consistent with international law, as well as pursue collective efforts to prevent threats to vessels traveling through regional waterways that are critical to international trade and the global economy,” the statement read.

Separately, NAVCENT’s naval amphibious task force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, hosted a multilateral maritime engagement conference in Bahrain for the second time this year, with 100 international staff officers from 10 nations. Representatives from Bahrain, France, Jordan, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States held discussions to identify future collaborative training opportunities across the Middle East.

“One of the best ways to remain ready to respond to a contingency is to listen to and work with our partners,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Matthew S. Reid, the Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander. “Understanding their security challenges and learning how we can best integrate with them during a crisis or contingency response – especially one that occurs in an amphibious domain – is important.”

Conference participants conducted a series of briefs and breakout sessions on air, ground and maritime operations, continuing discussions last held in January. Participants also toured RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009), a United Kingdom Royal Navy landing-ship dock, while the ship was pierside in Bahrain.

In addition to the UK’s regional maritime forces, Bahrain hosts the headquarters for NAVCENT and two major multinational naval partnerships, Combined Maritime Forces and the International Maritime Security Construct. Combined Maritime Forces includes 38 nations that form the world’s largest military partnership at sea. The International Maritime Security Construct is an 11-nation coalition that focuses on maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb.