The Pakistan Navy (PN) today handed over command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150) to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) after conducting a change of command ceremony at CMF Headquarters in Bahrain.
Commodore Mal Wise, RAN, assumed command of CTF150 from Rear Admiral Naveed Ahmed Rizvi, PN at a ceremony at CMF headquarters in Bahrain. The ceremony was presided over by Vice Admiral John Aquilino USN, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander US Fifth Fleet and Commander Combined Maritime Forces.
The assumption of command of CTF150 by Australia is an especially pleasing development for CMF, since it marks the 7th time Australia has commanded CTF 150. More importantly, however, the new CTF 150 command staff team includes seven personnel from the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in an Australian-led joint Australian / Canadian staff. This will be an important development for the RCN team, as Canada looks to develop its skills and understanding of CMF ahead of its own planned command of CTF150 at a later date in 2018.
The principal mission of CTF150 is to deter terrorism, narcotics smuggling and other illegal activity in the maritime environment across an area of almost 3.2 million square miles, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea. During the next four months the Australian-led team will continue the work to counter terrorism and drugs smugglers and reassure legitimate users of the high seas to ensure the free flow of commerce across the area of operations.
Beyond this, the CTF Commanders often conduct Key Leader Engagement (KLE), promoting the work of CMF and scoping opportunities to work with partners across the region. During his tenure as Commander CTF150, Rear Admiral Naveed Ahmed Rizvi undertook a KLE programme, travelling to the UAE and KSA. His meetings with distinguished civilian and military key leaders strengthened relations, developed opportunities for capacity building and improved information exchange.
On handing over command, Rear Admiral Rizvi said: “By its very nature, the threat of terrorism transcends national boundaries and requires a combined response from stakeholders. CMF has proven that this provides a framework to ensure global and regional maritime security while acknowledging the individual concerns and sensitivities of member countries. In my opinion, the unity in diversity and the willingness of the nations is the real strength of the coalition and this provides the commanders of the CTFs a unique opportunity to command a rainbow of sea platforms and staff”.
On assuming command, Commodore Wise said: “The Royal Australian Navy is pleased to contribute to Australia’s long-standing commitment to maritime security in the Middle East region, particularly to the CMF. We look forward to once again working with other CMF nations to uphold maritime security and stability of this crucial trade thoroughfare. While we are geographically distant, Australia acknowledges the critical need to maintain regional freedom of navigation and the global importance of countering violent extremism.”