Ryder Gives More Detail on How Operation Prosperity Guardian Will Work – Department of Defense

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Houthi attacks on vessels transiting the Red Sea are attacks on the international community and the international community is coming together to defend against the missiles and drones aimed at their vessels, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder at a Pentagon news conference today. 

The press secretary detailed how Operation Prosperity Guardian will work and called on the Houthis, an Iranian proxy group, to cease targeting international commerce. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the operation during a trip to the Middle East that ended last night. The secretary met with leaders in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Israel during the trip. “The secretary emphasized the strong and enduring partnership between the United States and his key partner nations towards furthering our shared goals of security and stability throughout the Middle East region,” Ryder said.  

Austin discussed the importance of freedom of navigation in international waterways and the threat the Houthi attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea pose to world commerce. Between 10 and 15 percent of global shipping flows through the Red Sea, “and these attacks are impacting global trade and commerce, negatively impacting the economies of nations around the world and costing commercial shipping firms billions of dollars,” Ryder said.  

In Bahrain, Austin announced Operation Prosperity Guardian. The operation is a new multinational security operation under the umbrella the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea.  

Austin further convened a virtual ministerial from Bahrain with ministers, chiefs of defense and senior representatives from more than 40 countries as well as representatives from the European Union and NATO to discuss the increased threat to maritime security in the Red Sea.  

Austin used the forum to highlight the effects of the Houthi attacks and called on the representatives to act collectively. The nations must come together “to address this issue collectively, emphasizing that this is an international problem that requires an international response,” Ryder said.  

There have been solid results: To date more than 20 nations have signed on to participate, Ryder said. “In the days ahead, the United States will continue to consult closely with our allies and partners who share the fundamental principle of freedom of navigation, and we expect to see the coalition continue to grow,” he said. 

The operation is a global answer to an international issue and the United States will continue to “work with this coalition of the willing where countries will be able to contribute what they feel that they can,” Ryder said. Some of these contributions are military assets like ships and aircraft and other contributions include staff and other types of support. 

“It’s very important to understand that the Houthis aren’t attacking just one country, they’re really attacking the international community,” Ryder said. “They are attacking the economic well-being and prosperity of nations around the world. So in effect, they really become bandits along the international highway that is the Red Sea.” 

To further this analogy, the forces assigned to Operation Prosperity Guardian, will serve the highway patrol in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden “to respond to and assist as necessary commercial vessels that are transiting this vital international waterway,” the general said. “It’s a defensive coalition meant to reassure global shipping and mariners that the international community is there to help with safe passage.” 

The area is large, roughly the distance between Boston and Washington, D.C., and the operation will work to assure safe passage all along the way.  

“Last thing I’d say on this is that the Houthis need to stop these attacks, and they need to stop them now,” Ryder said. “That’s clear and simple. They really need to ask themselves if they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, when it comes to taking on the entire international community and negatively impacting billions and billions, billions of dollars in global trade, economic prosperity and international law.”

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