Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) established a new international naval task force April 17 to enhance maritime security in the Red Sea region. During a ceremony at the U.S. Navy’s regional headquarters in Bahrain, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and CMF, commissioned Combined Task Force (CTF) 153. As CMF’s fourth task force, CTF 153 will focus on international maritime security and capacity-building efforts in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden. CMF is the largest standing multinational naval partnership with 34 nations committed to the international rules-based order at sea.
“This is a tangible and meaningful demonstration of our commitment to ensuring regional maritime security and stability through international cooperation. The Middle East region is dynamic and vast. There’s not one navy who can patrol the surrounding waters by themselves. We are always at our best when we are teaming with partners,” said Cooper.
Cooper designated U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Francis to initially serve as CTF 153’s commander. However, a regional partner will assume the leadership role in the fall. The organization’s other task forces include CTF 150, which now focuses on maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean; CTF 151, which leads regional counter-piracy efforts; and CTF 152, dedicated to maritime security in the Arabian Gulf. The task force staff will include as many as 15 U.S. and international military personnel from CMF member-nations.
CMF was established in 2001 with 12 like-minded countries to counter the threat of international terrorism. The organization was later expanded to include counter-piracy operations and added a 34th member in 2021. The staff is currently embarked aboard amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) operating in regional waters. When not at sea, CTF 153 personnel will work from offices ashore at CMF headquarters in Manama, Bahrain. The 34 nations that comprise CMF are not bound by either a political or military mandate. CMF is a flexible organisation. Contributions can vary from the provision of a liaison officer at CMF HQ in Bahrain.