The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) on Sunday (January 30) concluded a joint tactical exercise in eastern Saudi Arabia meant to bolster the security co-operation among member states.
Security forces from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain took part in the two-week-long Arab Gulf Security 3 exercise in Dammam in the Eastern Region.
The drills were meant to strengthen security co-operation among GCC countries and boost the co-ordination and readiness of security forces to address all the threats facing the Gulf region, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement at the start of the exercise.
The security of GCC countries is indivisible, Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef said at a ceremony marking the end of the drills.
"We all stand united in the face of anything that threatens the security and stability of the Arab Gulf states," he said.
"We reject by all means anything that compromises our security, tampers with our assets, or undermines the safety of individuals and facilities," Nayef said.
"Through this joint exercise, we confirm the main objective... to permanently improve security co-ordination and co-operation between our security forces and unify efforts to raise readiness," he added.
Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al Thani, undersecretary of Qatar's Ministry of Interior and the commander of Qatar's Internal Security Force, praised the high level of co-ordination and readiness of the various security services, Qatar News Agency reported.
In addition to raising the efficiency of the security services of GCC states, the exercise contributed to the exchange of security expertise and raising the readiness among GCC ministries of interior and security services, he said.
Qatar is set to host the next edition of the joint tactical exercise.
The latest exercise took place after the Royal Saudi Land Forces, Kuwaiti Land Force and US Army's Spartan Force held the Gulf Shooting 2021 exercise in Kuwait late last year.
The drill ran November 7–18, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The exercise was meant to strengthen military relations and joint defence co-operation with friendly countries, and exchange military experiences and knowledge, to "highlight and unify the combat capability of the three countries", said Col. Nayef bin al-Humaidi, the commander of the drill.
Drill planners focused on "planning and implementation of command and control procedures", he said, as well as conducting a rapid response to emergency situations for joint ground operations.
The drill also developed skills to implement tactical shooting for infantry and armoured units in conjunction with close air support and administrative support operations.
At a January 4 virtual meeting between GCC secretary general Nayef al-Hajraf and US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the two discussed ways of strengthening the security and safety of waterways and marine navigation in the region.
The leaders discussed future opportunities for NAVCENT co-operation with the GCC's naval task force, Task Force 81, the command said in a statement.
"These include NAVCENT's new initiative to integrate new unmanned systems in close collaboration with regional partners, as well as a regional approach to interdiction of maritime illicit activity," it said.
The meeting came after Yemen's Houthis seized an Emirati-flagged ship on January 3 in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition, of which the UAE is a key member, said the cargo ship, the Rwabee, was returning from a mission to set up a field hospital on Yemen's Socotra island.
The Rwabee was carrying medical supplies, it said, branding the hijacking an act of piracy that threatens freedom of navigation and international trade in the south Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb strait.