As the UK prepares to mark 200 years of close ties with Bahrain next year, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has travelled to the country to visit a Royal Marine exercise and to reinforce UK commitment to the wider region.
Exercise Pearl Dagger will deliver infantry and amphibious training to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), developing greater interoperability with the Royal Marines. It comes at a time when stability in the Middle East is key to the region’s security but also for the safety of the UK. The exercise, involving 104 UK Royal Marines, 81 Royal Bahraini Naval Force Royal Marines and 23 Bahraini National Guard, will allow both country’s militaries to work more closely together in the future to tackle any joint challenges the nations may face. Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Cardigan Bay is due to take part alongside a number of other landing craft and amphibious vessels.
This exercise is just one of a number of capability building activities across a range of areas with Bahraini allies. Mr Fallon went on to visit British Short Term Training Teams (STTT) delivering instruction to the BDF and the Bahrain Ministry for Interior.
Bahrain is a key UK ally in the Gulf region, reflected in the agreement last year to improve facilities at the Bahrain Defence force Mina Salman port. The expansion of Britain’s footprint in Bahrain builds on a 40-year track record of Gulf patrols and is just one example of the UK’s growing partnerships with the Gulf states to tackle regional threats.
Mr Fallon said:
What happens in the Gulf region has a direct impact on the national security of the United Kingdom, our prosperity and the safety of our citizens. It is vital that we work with close allies like Bahrain to tackle regional threats such as that posed by ISIL.
Michael Fallon also met with the King of Bahrain His Majesty Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa where he expressed his thanks on progress to improve port facilities which host UK ships and Royal Navy personnel, dedicated to protecting UK interests and those of the wider international community. In addition Mr Fallon also met with the BDF Commander in Chief His Highness Field Marshall Shaik Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa to thank Bahrain for the continued support the United Kingdom’s Maritime Component Command.