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Saudi Arabia, France defense forces hold joint military drill: Report

Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English
Sunday June 12, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s and France’s defense forces kicked off a joint military exercise in the northwest part of the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Titled ‘Santol 2,’ the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) and the French Armed Forces trained together to “raise combat readiness, gain more field experience and work to unify military concepts,” SPA reported.

The Assistant Commander of the Northwest area for Operational Affairs, Major General Khalid bin Mohammed al-Khashrami said that the multi-day exercise “aims to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and joint action, and exchange experiences in the military fields, which contribute to raising the military combat capability and increasing coordination between the Saudi armed forces and the friendly French armed forces.”

The teams reportedly used both live ammunition and simulators for the exercise.

Both countries share strong diplomatic ties. French President Emmanuel Macron has previously worked with Saudi leaders to cooperate on solving the economic crisis in Lebanon.

He visited the Kingdom as part of a Gulf tour in December, becoming the first major Western leader to do so since 2018.

Saudi Arabia and Red Sea coastal countries including Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen recently concluded a joint military drill earlier in June, according to SPA.

The mission, similar to Santol 2 “raised combat preparedness” and contributed to “upgrading the security abilities to protect the seas and regional and international water passages and guarantee maritime navigation in the Red Sea.”

Late last month, the Saudi Air Force took part in a drill with F-15 C/SA jets while the US Air Force brought the F-16 and F-18 fighters.

The joint venture helped in “developing their capabilities” and in “raising efficiency and enhancing cooperation to face challenges,” SPA reported.