Forces from the Kingdom of Bahrain and United States began a 10-day military exercise in and off the coast of Bahrain, May 8. Exercise Neon Defender is an annual bilateral training event between U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Bahrain Defence Force. The Bahrain Coast Guard is also participating. The exercise focuses on maritime security operations, installation defense and medical response.
“Bahrain makes many vital contributions to the maritime security of the Gulf and the annual bilateral Neon Defender exercise highlights the fulsome capability of Bahrain’s maritime forces,” said Ambassador Steven C. Bondy, the U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain. “The U.S.-Bahrain security partnership continuously develops to deliver enhanced regional security. This exercise is a strong example of how our two nations are working in tandem to improve security and safety for all, to the benefit of both our great nations.”
“Neon Defender is an excellent opportunity to increase interoperability with our Bahraini partners,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “I am inspired as our military-to-military relationship with Bahrain continues to grow as we strengthen and expand our mutual cooperation.”
Nearly 200 U.S. personnel are participating, including maritime engagement, security, medical and construction teams from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard cutters USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) and USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) as well as several U.S. Navy unmanned systems will also participate in the exercise.
Headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, NAVCENT includes U.S. forces operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandeb.