From the Reliant Mermaid operation
From the Reliant Mermaid operation photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Israel was the host this week for Reliant Mermaid IX, a joint search and rescue (SAR) exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving the air and naval forces of Israel, the United States and Turkey.

Reliant Mermaid IX, air and naval forces in action

IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The two-day SAR maneuvers were held in international waters off the coast of Israel. The objective of the trilateral Reliant Mermaid exercises is to practice coordinated emergency search and rescue procedures, as well as life-saving measures at sea. By enhancing their interoperability, cooperation and coordination, the Israeli, Turkish and American forces will be able to respond more efficiently and rapidly to potential maritime emergencies, as well as to provide effective humanitarian assistance when called upon to do so.

Naval vessels take part in Reliant Mermaid IX

IDF Spokesperson's Unit

This year was the ninth that the IDF, Turkish and American military forces held joint SAR maneuvers. The first Reliant Mermaid exercise took place in January 1998. It was decided at the time that the three navies should become familiar with each other's capabilities because they all regularly ply the Mediterranean Sea. The coordinated maneuvers were designed to improve the effectiveness of a joint American-Israeli-Turkish response in the event of an actual emergency rescue operation. Turkey has also hosted the exercise and the armed forces involved in previous years.

Helicopters and Navy forces in Reliant Mermaid IX

IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Syria has called the joint SAR exercise "a sinister alliance" between the US, Turkey and Israel. With territorial ambitions in Turkey and Israel, Syria has a history of confrontation along its borders with both states. Iran, as well as Syria, denounced Reliant Mermaid as part of an American plot to project its power in the Mediterranean through an alliance between the nations involved in the joint operations.

In recognition of their common adversaries - including Syria, Iran and fundamentalist Muslim terrorists - Israel and Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement in 1996.