Western allies join US-led anti-Iran drone task force
Task Force 59 has conducted exercises with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and Qatar and operates out of bases in Bahrain and Jordan
By News Desk - January 11 2023

Sea Hunter medium displacement unmanned surface vessel. (Photo credit: US Navy).

Additional military personnel from allies of the United States have recently been assigned to Task Force 59, the Fifth Fleet’s experimental unit in Bahrain, according to US Navy sources on 11 January.

France, the Netherlands, and Germany have recently dispatched military attachés to the task force’s headquarters to work alongside personnel from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada reported Al-Monitor news.

Since October 2021, the unit has been testing commercially available unmanned drones to assist the US Navy in monitoring the area’s waterways. According to the Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper II, the unit is now completely operational.

Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, head of the Navy’s surface forces, approved a proposal in December 2022 that would see subordinate officers, such as lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, in charge of squadrons of unmanned ships coupled with manned ships during the ensuing months.

“You can essentially construct a radar barrier about 100 miles wide when you start to connect two or three [surface drones] with an escort,” Cooper said on 10 January, adding, “You’re going to see everything,” according to Al-Monitor.

The experiment conducted by Task Force 59 aims to test commercially available gadgets that Navy officials claim can deter Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) through surveillance and test cutting-edge US technology in challenging environments farther away from the Pacific.

As the Pentagon works to dissuade Iran while concentrating its own forces in the Pacific, Washington has recently attempted to persuade its allies to play a bigger role in West Asia.

On 16 November, Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi hosted US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Michael Erik Kurilla to discuss joint capabilities to counter Iran.

Kurilla wrapped up his fourth official visit to Tel Aviv since his appointment in April.

Kochavi reiterated that Washington and Tel Aviv were “developing joint military capabilities at an accelerated rate” against Iran and other threats across the West Asian region.

According to local reports, Kochavi and other senior Israeli officials discussed potential efforts to combat Iran’s alleged presence in Syria and Yemen and prevent weapons transfers to the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

The Pentagon has also been collaborating with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in West Asia over the past eight months to create a network of unmanned drones to counter Iran in the Persian Gulf.

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