A US amphibious assault ship and a Marine Expeditionary Unit have deployed to the Sea of Oman, as joint naval exercises with Israel take place in the Red Sea.

The US Navy said that the amphibious assault ship “Essex and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.”

In another development, forces from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) began a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea on Wednesday, NAVCENT said on Thursday.

This is the first publicly acknowledged naval exercise between the United States, Israel and the two Gulf Arab countries.

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the Gulf of Oman, Nov. 8, 2021

The new naval and Marines’ forces joining CENTCOM’s theater of operations conducted bilateral interoperability training with the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth with landing helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on US F-35 fighters and British aircraft cross-landing on each other’s platforms.

The move coincided with Iranian exercises along the Sea of Oman that began on November 7 and included land, air and naval unites. The army said its drills covered an area of one million sq kilometers or 386,000 sq miles, well over half the territory of Iran. Navy vessels and submarines, as well as old American Phantom fighter-bombers and drones took part.

Tensions are high in the region as Iran tries to flex its muscles following Israeli warnings that it will take action if Tehran gets any closer to nuclear capability. An Israeli official told Iran International on October 25 that attacking Iran was now the Israeli air force’s top priority.

The United States has also warned that “other option” could be considered if Iran does not seriously negotiate over its nuclear program.

Iran’s new hardliner government left multilateral talks over reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement in June, delaying resumption of negotiations for five months. New talks are finally scheduled to resume at the end of November, but Iran has been hardening its posture.

Iran also claimed last week that it had a confrontation with the US Navy and prevented the seizure of Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman. The US denied any confrontation and said Iran seized a Vietnam-flagged tanker in October and the Navy was simply observing the incident. Iran finally released the tanker on Tuesday.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group, was quoted as sayingabout joint drills, “The force development work we have been undertaking with the U.S. Navy has been ground breaking. We are all comfortable with helicopters lilly-padding from one deck to another but doing it with fixed wing aircraft is a whole new game. This level of interoperability goes far beyond anything we have exercised before with any partner and offers a degree of flexibility and agility that Commanders have long dreamt of.”

The US 5th Fleet area of operations covers about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The area encompasses 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, including the Strait of Hormuz, critical to the free flow of global commerce.

Titre Aval
News/Sport (27)
Christo and Jean-Claude

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