Various media outlets report that the US and Saudi Arabia have completed their first joint counter-drone exercise. There are currently official news reports from U.S. Central Command confirming this exercise. The exercise was held at a new military testing center near Riyadh. This exercise was the first of its kind between the two militaries. US officials hope to replicate this with other armies in the region.

The Red Sands Experimentation Center has been under discussion for some time. The US Military noted that it would serve as an innovative approach to training and readiness between Washington and Middle East partners.

The focus of these exercises was on small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), an official with knowledge about the exercise stated.

General Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM Commander, told lawmakers recently that the counter-UAS drills involved live-fire exercises and allowed for studying complex threats. They also identified weaknesses in other areas to counter drone activities.

Gen. Kurilla notes that US forces have suffered 78 Iranian attacks since January 2021. The US only responded three times.

Melissa Horvath, a non-resident senior fellow at the Middle East Institute (MEI) says that the Red Sands counter-drone exercise was a critical way for the US to show continued commitment to Saudi Arabia. It also shows a commitment to build regional cooperation among Middle East allies beyond traditional security assistance programs.

Post Image- An MLRS kicks up clouds of dust on a White Sands Missile Range- Photo Credit: John Hamilton-DVIDS

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