GCC NAVIES BUILD FOR PERSISTENT PATROLS IN HOME WATERS
Asian Military Review|February/March 2021
While international navies provide larger warships to patrol the waters of the Gulf, GCC nations are building their strength to sustain a constant presence.
Dr Lee Willett

The Gulf region remains a global security hotspot, and its waters are a melting pot of different security challenges. Moreover, the region’s security context is in some senses unique: whereas, in other global regions, low- and high-end risks can to a degree be compartmentalised, the restricted geophysical and constricted geostrategic nature of the Gulf’s maritime layout means that low end and high-end maritime challenges to good order at sea are intertwined, creating a highly volatile area of hybrid, ‘grey zone’ risks.

Lower-end, maritime security-based threats in the region include counternarcotics and other smuggling across the Northern Arabian Sea as well as other maritime terrorism risks to commercial ships transiting the Straits of Hormuz. At the opposite end of the risk spectrum, the Gulf region reflects the global trend of a return to state-based naval competition: Iran continues to improve its naval potential across the board, while also developing joint capability that poses an anti-access/area denial risk to the Straits of Hormuz; Western navies – notably, the United States Navy (USN), the Royal Navy (RN), and the French Navy (FN) – continue to build permanent high-end naval presence in the region, both at sea and ashore, to support national and multinational security interests.

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