USN’s CMF establishes fifth Gulf-based maritime security task force

Multinational personnel participate in a briefing during CTF-154’s inaugural training exercise, ‘Compass Rose’. CTF-154 is CMF’s fifth maritime security task force. (Credit: US Navy)

The US Navy’s (USN’s) Gulf-based Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) multinational maritime security partnership has established its fifth Combined Task Force (CTF), CMF announced on 22 May.

The US Fifth Fleet-led, 38-country member CMF formally stood up CTF-154 in a ceremony at US Fifth Fleet headquarters, US Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

CTF-154 will focus on training partner navies and improving operational capabilities to enhance maritime security across CMF’s area of responsibility, which stretches from the Gulf to Suez. Its training activities will cover five core areas: maritime awareness; maritime law; maritime interdiction; maritime rescue and assistance; and leadership development. Activities can be tailored from basic to advanced levels, to meet partner navy requirements.

“Establishing CTF-154 demonstrates our deep commitment to strengthening and expanding partnerships through new training opportunities that will enhance regional maritime security,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, Commander US Fifth Fleet, CMF, and US Naval Forces Central Command, said in a CMF statement.

CTF-154 will lead multinational training at locations across the region, including providing training courses ashore, the CMF statement added. The task force is designed to enable CMF partners to conduct training even if ships and aircraft are not available.

CTF-154 was launched alongside its first training exercise, ‘Compass Rose’. Hosted ashore in Bahrain and tackling issues including vessel boarding procedures, the exercise involved personnel from CMF members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Initially, CTF-154 will be led by a USN captain, supported by a multinational staff. It is anticipated that another CMF country will assume command later in 2023.

The four other CMF CTFs are: CTF-150 (established in 2002), which conducts maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, northern Indian Ocean, and part of the Gulf of Aden; CTF-151 (2009), which undertakes counter-piracy operations across the region; CTF-152 (2004), which tackles maritime security in the Gulf and Straits of Hormuz; and CTF-153 (2022), which addresses maritime security presence and capacity-building across the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Straits, and Red Sea.

by Dr Lee Willett, London