Emirati and British military personnel recently teamed up for exercises in the Gulf.
Exercise Sea Khanjar 17, as the programme was called, involved Emirati forces and the UK’s elite Special Purpose Task Group in two weeks of training that included beach reconnaissance, close-quarter battle, counter explosive training, marksmanship and battlefield triage.
British royal navy commodore Andrew Burns, aboard HMS Ocean, the fleet’s largest operational vessel, took command of US Task Force 50 responsible for maritime security operations in the Gulf last November.
Since then, the forces aboard Ocean have undertaken many exercises with partners.
A 21,500 tonne helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, Ocean is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by air or sea.
In 2015, the UK’s ministry of defence announced Ocean would be decommissioned by 2018. UK naval air power is to be augmented by two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers - the biggest ships built for the royal navy.
Joint training resulted in the successful landing of helicopters from the UAE Joint Aviation Command on Ocean, proving the potential for greater cooperation between the royal navy and regional partners.
The highlight and conclusion of the joint exercise was an amphibious assault on the UAE coast conducted jointly by the elite Emirati Al Forsan Presidential Guard and the Special Purpose Task Group from Ocean.
Exercise Sea Khanjar was conducted at the same time as a joint exercise with the Qatari navy, and days after exercises in Kuwait.