U.S. NAVY CENTRAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Defending the Red Sea region from terrorists and criminals is the focus of a new multinational naval task force formed in April 2022 as part of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
During a ceremony at the U.S. Navy 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.
“This is a tangible and meaningful demonstration of our commitment to ensuring regional maritime security and stability through international cooperation,” Cooper said.
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 operational multinational naval partnership with 34 nations committed to the international rules-based order at sea. The organization’s other task forces include CTF 150, which focuses on maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean; CTF 151, which leads regional counterpiracy efforts; and CTF 152, dedicated to maritime security in the Arabian Gulf.
“The Middle East region is dynamic and vast. There’s not one Navy that can patrol the surrounding waters by themselves,” Cooper said. “We are always at our best when we are teaming with partners.”
Cooper designated U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Francis to serve as CTF 153’s first commander.
The task force staff will include as many as 15 U.S. and international military personnel from CMF member nations. The staff embarked aboard amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney operating out of the Jordanian port of Aqaba. When not at sea, CTF 153 personnel will work from onshore offices at CMF headquarters in Manama, Bahrain.
CMF was established in 2001 by the United States and 11 like-minded countries to counter terrorism, including interdicting illicit arms and drugs shipments aboard vessels. The coalition later expanded to include counterpiracy operations and added a 34th member in 2021.