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US, Saudi Navy begin Persian Gulf drill as Saudi aviators resume training in the US

Mark VI patrol boat
A Mark VI patrol boat participates in exercise Nautical Defender 20 in Jubail, KSA. Photo: US Navy

The navies of the United States and Saudi Arabia kicked off the bilateral exercise Nautical Defender 20 (ND 20), as Saudi Arabian students resumed flight training in the US.

The exercise coincides with a return to training for Saudi Arabian international military students on February 25 after a Saudi student killed three US naval aviation students at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida in December.

“Capstone exercises like Nautical Defender allow us to combine key combat enablers, such as, maritime infrastructure protection, maritime interdiction operations, and mine-counter-measures into a complex and realistic event driven scenario across several days,” Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander, Naval Forces Central Command, said.

“To make training like this effective, we must normalize procedural interoperability across all warfare areas, assessing against a common baseline for proficiency and leveraging systems compatibility across multiple platforms.”

In a separate announcement, the navy said the training at Pensacola after the service implemented requirements set forth by US defense secretary. Among the changes implemented is a new regulation prohibiting the possession of personally owned firearms by IMS, limiting access by all foreign nationals to assigned facilities and installations only, and requiring IMS to accept these policies to train in the United States.