Israel and the United Arab Emirates already participate in the Greek-hosted Iniochos exercise, last conducted in April. To extend Arab-Israeli security cooperation further, Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi should work with Athens to invite Egypt and Jordan to join the next Iniochos exercise as full participants (not simply as observers).
The Pentagon should also encourage both Israel and the United Arab Emirates to send robust contingents to the next Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
In the land warfare domain, Abu Dhabi should invite the Israel Defense Forces to participate in the next UAE-U.S. Iron Union exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates. There is good reason to do so: As Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, “Iran plans to arm its proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with hundreds, and then thousands of these deadly drones [Shahed-136s].”
If the IDF were to attend the Iron Union exercise, Emirati, American and Israeli forces could work together, for example, to strengthen and rehearse the defense of bases and ground maneuver forces against swarms of enemy drones. Developing, fielding and honing improved defenses against drones is a top priority for U.S. Central Command, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and others are right to celebrate the success of the Blue Flag 2021 exercise. Given the growing threats, however, they should not spend too much time congratulating themselves and would be wise to get to work now on urgent next steps.
Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Retired Brig. Gen. Jacob Nagel is a senior fellow at FDD. He previously served as head of Israel’s National Security Council and as acting national security adviser. Ryan Brobst is a research analyst at the center. Follow Bradley on Twitter @Brad_L_Bowman. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.