US Naval commander in third recent visit to Israel to boost maritime security

Commanders discussed maritime security, cooperation and the Iranian threat.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

The commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) last week concluded a visit to Israel, where he met with senior army officials to foster joint efforts on maritime security and stability in the Middle East.

It was the third Israel visit by Commander of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Brad Cooper in the last six months, the IDF said in a statement, “reflecting the close cooperation between the US and Israeli navies.”

“The visit demonstrates the importance of the strategic and operational connection between the fleets,” the IDF said.

Cooper met with the IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Israeli Navy Commander Chief David Saar Salama to discuss promoting international cooperation and securing international waters vital to global trade. They also talked about regional stability in the Middle East.

“Maritime cooperation between the IDF and the US military is another example of the strength of the strategic relationship between the two militaries. The joint work with the US military will continue to yield many achievements for Israel and our security,” said Kochavi. “Together, we will continue to face the challenges ahead in order to maintain stability in the Middle East.”

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Cooper also met with the IDF’s Head of the Strategic Planning and Cooperation Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tal Kelman, and was briefed on challenges facing Israel in the southern maritime arena and the economic waters, including the country’s offshore assets.

“This visit reflects our strong commitment to the enduring strategic relationship fostered over decades. Our bilateral maritime partnership is built on trust and shared interests in maintaining security and stability in the surrounding seas,” Cooper said.

In November, Israel, the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain for the first time held a joint drill in the Red Sea to enhance cooperation on maritime security in the face of Iranian aggression.

The Biden administration in September officially moved Israel to the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, enabling greater cooperation with increasingly friendly Arab states in the region facing a common threat in Iran.