Task force to combat piracy
Manama, January 9, 2009
An international task force has been set up in Bahrain to combat piracy.
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has established Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) specifically for counter-piracy operations.
Naval ships and assets from more than 20 nations will make up the taskforce, which will conduct counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
It is expected to be fully operational within the next week and US Navy Rear Admiral Terence McKnight has already been named as the commander.
"Some navies in our coalition did not have the authority to conduct counter-piracy missions," said Bahrain-based CMF and US Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Gortney.
"The establishment of CTF 151 will allow those nations to operate under the auspices of the taskforce, while allowing other nations to join CTF 151 to support our goal of deterring, disrupting and eventually bringing to justice the maritime criminals involved in piracy events."
However, Vice Adm Gortney warned that the efforts of the coalition and international navies will not be enough to solve the piracy problem.
"The most effective measures we've seen to defeat piracy are non-kinetic and defensive in nature," he said.
"The merchant ships have been doing a great job stepping up and utilising these methods to defeat piracy attempts.
"That's a great first step. But the problem of piracy is and continues to be a problem that begins ashore and is an international problem that requires an international solution."
Coalition efforts included CTF 150 assets patrolling the area with ships and aircraft, whose main role is to support US-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Officials said the establishment of CTF 151 will allow CTF 150 assets to remain focused on those activities, giving CTF-151 the ability to focus solely on counter-piracy.
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