On November 10, forces from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Israel and US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) kicked off a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea.

In a statement, NAVCENT said that the five-day exercise will include at-sea training aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) focused on visit, board, search and seizure tactics. The exercise is supposed to enhance interoperability between participating forces’ maritime interdiction teams.

This is the first time that Israel publicly trains with the UAE and Bahrain. It comes as a result of the transfer of the responsibility for Israel from the US Europe Command to the US Central Command.

“It is exciting to see US forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability.”

Last week, Iran’s naval forces held a large-scale exercise in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Indian Ocean and in sections of the Red Sea.

The exercise, which is supposedly meant to improve military cooperation between US allies in the Middle East, appears to be a message to Iran. Tehran is set to rejoin the talks with the US on its nuclear program in Vienna in less than three weeks.