On December 18th, the Pentagon formed a new multinational task force. Formed to combat the recent spike in Houthi rebel attacks on commercial shipping vessels in passageways across the Red Sea. Given the number of drone attack waves, missile launches, and attempts to board and thwart these ships, this is an idea coming significantly later than it should.
Named Operation Prosperity Guardian, the task force will now add in servicemembers, boats, and other equipment from the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain. These nations will be joining the US and other nations who have already running Combined Task Force 153 in the region since April 2022.
Announced by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin while he was in the Middle East, he is taking special exemption on trying to go after the Yemen-hosted Houthi rebels. In a statement, he summed up the reason for the new task force. “This is an international challenge that demands collective action. The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law.”
Currently, the Houthis have forced no less than ten shipping companies to stop shipping services in the Red Sea. As Austin outlined in the rest of his statement, they needed to crack down on these attacks, and the inclusion of these new nations would help enforce these decisions. According to an AP report, some will be working exclusively on joint patrols in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Arden, and the chokepoint of the Bab el-Mandeb strait. while others will provide intel reports.
Now totaling 39 countries, Prosperity Guardian has extensively gone after the Houthis, who are looking to continue their risks to maritime security. So far, the USS Carney, the USS Stethem, and the USS Mason, all-American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, have been patrolling the waters daily. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower joined the fight a bit later than the others, arriving on December 18th, according to satellite footage.
It all started in response to the continued and escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine. With Hamas fighters acting as the violent arm of Palestine, they do so with the full blessings and financial & logistical support of Iran. Delivering them horrifically powerful weapons, the rebels often lack the patience, knowledge, or even the capabilities to fire them effectively, thus turning multiple missiles into little more than failures turned decorations at the bottom of the Red Sea.
These rebels have successfully made shipping more and more difficult, with many having to dodge these poorly fired missiles at the last minute. As well as being forced to pay significantly more in resources and tools to fight off against pirates and other would-be looters. Making sudden maneuvers, as well as being forced to venture into less-than-usual sections of the waterways, ultimately made it harder for them to be fired upon.
For US servicemembers, this represents a new shift in the way the US works to protect our global assets. While teams have helped escort cargo ships around Djibouti for years, the shift from just dealing with pirate attacks to dealing with long-range missile attacks is one the US Navy is equipped to deal with. Their comrades from other nations and militaries might not be quite so fortunate.
Any time the US has started forming Global Task Forces like this, it has historically precipitated some horrific battles. Done for the sake of saving the American way of life, and ensuring peace across the globe as much as we can, they strike significant fear into those we face, especially as we tend to fight well with others.