ABU DHABI: A top US military commander on Monday praised the UAE’s effective air defense system after it intercepted recent Houthi missile attacks on the country. 

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), told state news agency WAM that the US would work with the gulf country to further improve its defense system.

“We are happy to see that THAAD [the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system] employed successfully by UAE in the first two combat employments of that system. So, that’s been very good, and I know that it sends a strong message of reassurance to everyone in UAE,” said McKenzie, who is on an official visit to the UAE.

His visit comes after a series of terrorist attacks launched by the Houthi militia against civilians in the UAE.

The UAE’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced in January that its forces had intercepted and destroyed missiles launched by the militia in Yemen.

General McKenzie, who oversees the US forces in the Middle East, added: “We are working with our partners here in the region and with the industry back in the United States to develop solutions that would work against drones. We would like to work against drones what we call ‘Left of Launch,’ [which means] before they can be launched.”

“And if you can’t do that, you will certainly be able to shoot them down as they reach their intended target,” he explained. “In all of those areas we’re working with our friends internationally as well as with industries in the US to become more effective at that.”

McKenzie emphasised that his visit was ‘a great opportunity’ to assure the UAE of the US’ constant support and the strong ties between with the two nations.

“I think the UAE has one of the most professional militaries in the region. They’re very well-led, and I think the UAE is a very safe and secure place,” he said.