The Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) and its partner, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, cleared mines to defend shipping lanes, boarded suspicious vessels and protected ports as part of the Neon Defender 21 exercise
in April 2021.
The bilateral, four-day exercise created scenarios in which Bahraini and U.S. Sailors could test their ability to operate together during military conflict. In addition to the familiar simulations, the 2021 exercise included for the first time Bahraini and U.S. pilots destroying maritime targets from the air.
“This year’s iteration of Neon Defender was the largest in the series of exercises we regularly conduct with Bahrain. … It has been a perfect example of our combined forces continuously building on existing mutual maritime security capabilities,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Karl Haywood, who commanded the task force in the exercise.
Neon Defender 21 allowed the Royal Bahrain Naval Force to practice lessons learned from exercise Dawn of the Storms 25 in March 2021, in which multiple units and branches of the BDF participated.
Bahrain, where the U.S. 5th Fleet is headquartered, maintains a strong military-to-military relationship with the U.S. and is an important regional partner.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations covers about 2.5 million square miles of water, including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Sources: Al Bayan, Al Ayyam, U.S. Navy