by TYLER DURDEN at zerohedge.com
Australia is the latest country to reject a request from the United States to send warships to the Red Sea under the command of the Pentagon’s Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect commercial vessels along the critical maritime trade route from Iran-backed Houthi.
Defense Minister Richard Marles told Sky News that Australia’s military would not send a “ship or a plane” to the Red Sea but would triple the number of troops for the US-led maritime force.
“We need to be really clear around our strategic focus and our strategic focus is our region,” Marles said.
The Pentagon’s formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a new task force to protect shipping from Houthi drone and missile attacks in the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea, requires increased warship patrols by the US and allies. This will create a security umbrella over commercial vessels to defend from attacks.
Reuters said about twenty countries have signed up for the Pentagon’s new operation. However, several countries, including Australia, Spain, Italy, and France, have rejected the Pentagon’s request to participate in the operation.
Spain’s Defence Ministry said it would only participate in NATO-led missions or European-coordinated operations – not ones commanded by the Pentagon:
“We will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation.”
Italy’s Defence Ministry voiced similar concerns, indicating it would send naval frigate Virginio Fasan to the Red Sea but only respond to requests by Italian shipowners.
“Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea has practically Collapsed as France, Spain, and Italy have all announced their Withdrawal from the US Command Structure for the Operation, with the Three Nations stating they will only conduct further Maritime Operations under the Command of NATO and/or the European Union and not the United States,” X account OSINTdefender wrote.