NAVCENT Commander Discusses Maritime Security with Yemen Vice President, GCC Secretary General, and Saudi Arabian Military Leaders

By U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs | July 01, 2021

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, June 30 - July 1, and discussed maritime security during separate meetings with regional leaders. 

Cooper participated in meetings with Yemen Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General His Excellency Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, and top Saudi military leaders including Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (SAAF) Chief of General Staff Fayyadh Hamed Al Ruwaili.

“The maritime forces of Yemen, the GCC, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are all key players in promoting the free flow of commerce in the region. This was a great chance for us to talk face-to-face about how we can make these relationships even stronger, and the seas safer. The Saudis were tremendous hosts throughout,” said Cooper. 

During his meeting with al-Ahmar, Cooper discussed Yemen’s ongoing participation with CMF to ensure maritime security.

In Cooper’s meeting with Al-Hajraf, the two discussed the importance of a strong relationship between the United States and GCC, and their shared commitment to ensuring maritime security in the region.

While with top Saudi military officials, Cooper discussed the importance of Saudi Arabia’s participation and leadership in CMF and the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), which supports regional security and stability. The meetings included Al Ruwaili, Commander Joint Forces (JFC) Lt.Gen.Mutlaq bin Salim bin Mutlaq Al-Azima, and Commander Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) Vice Adm. Fahad Abdullah Al-Ghofaily.

Cooper also visited the Ministry of Defense and the Royal Saudi Naval Forces headquarters, and met with Saudi naval personnel.

“Chief of General Staff Fayyadh Hamed Al Ruwaili was incredibly kind to allow me to visit, and tour some of the Saudi military facilities. The Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, especially the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, bring an impressive range of capabilities to regional maritime security. They’re an important partner to the U.S. Navy,” Cooper said. 

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.