A Jordanian-U.S. Naval Partnership

Security in Red Sea benefits from successful multinational training


The closeness of the U.S.-Jordanian maritime partnership that links the two sides in training and preparation is a result of the experience of the U.S. Navy in the maritime space internationally, the U.S. 5th Fleet’s regional presence, and the faith entrusted to the Royal Jordanian Navy through regional partnerships to lead Combined Task Force 151 from December 2021 to April 2022.

This partnership was nurtured through regular joint naval military exercises. Key among these is the annual Infinite Defender exercise in which the Royal Jordanian Navy and its U.S. counterparts share experiences in planning, leadership and control, and work to unify military concepts to overcome current and future maritime security challenges. The goal is to develop defensive capabilities and professional naval forces capable of effectively carrying out duties assigned to them. 

From February 26 to March 14, 2023, the Royal Jordanian Navy also participated in the International Maritime Exercise (IMX 23) alongside the U.S. 5th Fleet and 43 other nations and 15 representatives from commercial and other nonmilitary organizations. The Jordanian Navy assumed leadership of the exercise’s activities in the Red Sea, dubbed the Western Command.

A maritime drone is launched in the Red Sea during IMX 23. JORDAN ARMED FORCES

IMX 23 objectives focused on strengthening maritime security by employing unmanned systems in tactical operations, particularly to assist visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams. They also focused on unifying the differing naval military concepts and the maritime communication systems of participating nations with an emphasis on underwater drone activity headed by the recently opened Jordanian Center for Unmanned Systems (J-ROC). Then-U.S. Task Force 59 Commander Capt. Michael Brassuer and Jordanian Royal Navy Commander Col. Hisham Al-Jarrah of Naval Force Command attended the center’s opening. The center features advanced AI monitoring devices for marine drone systems. It also tracks maritime traffic, produces weather forecasts, and collects and employs high-precision data and information to ensure security within Jordanian territorial waters.

As part of efforts to develop the capabilities of IMX 23 participants, Royal Naval Command carried out a series of joint naval exercises in Jordan’s territorial waters. These exercises featured several themes including use of Saildrones, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ROV underwater drones controlled by J-ROC at Royal Naval Command, along with search and rescue methods, operational diving, and anti-piracy and port protection operations carried out by the VBSS team in coordination with the Maritime Operations Center. Also featured were Tactical Combat Casualty Care, sharing experiences through operating modern naval vessels and drones, and training VBSS teams with specialized staff. 

Jordanian and U.S. military divers conduct explosive ordnance disposal training during Infinite Defender 23 in Aqaba, Jordan.

Activities on the final day of IMX included a tactical naval drill within Jordan’s territorial waters in the presence of the Commander of the Southern Military Region Brig. Gen. Al Zaboun and Royal Naval Commander Al-Jarrah. Troops fended off a simulated attack and conducted unmanned demining operations, anti-piracy efforts, VBSS ship inspections, and seaborne medical evacuations in coordination with the Maritime Operations Center, reflecting a high degree of professionalism among exercise participants.

The Jordanian-American maritime partnership continues to progress steadily with an approach based on modernization and continuous development across all fields, reinforced with joint maritime training exercises and regional and international partnerships. The most important of these is the presence of the Royal Jordanian Navy in Combined Maritime Forces, the 34-nation coalition based in Bahrain that confronts common challenges. Its efficiency, not only in terms of equipment but also its manpower, has contributed to its growing role in international partnership policies aimed at confronting renewed maritime threats regionally and internationally, earning Jordan an extended partnership and special friendship with the United States.  

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