Coalition Forces Complete Goalkeeper III Exercise
By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs
Coalition forces, led by Royal Bahrain Navy Brig. Gen. Abdulla Saeed Al Mansoori, commander, Task Force (CTF) 152, conducted Exercise Goalkeeper III (GKIII) in the Arabian Gulf, May 12-14.
The three-day exercise focused on maritime security operations (MSO) and provided coalition forces an opportunity to work together and exercise their ability to locate and track various contacts, conduct visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations as well as command and control functions. GKIII included partners from Bahrain, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S. and other regional countries.
Al Mansoori said GKIII gave coalition navies an opportunity to improve interoperability and training proficiency.
"We are working together, continuing operations that counter illicit activities in the maritime arena to create a lawful maritime order," explained Al Mansoori, who oversees all maritime operations in the central and southern Arabian Gulf region.
"Coalition maritime forces conduct maritime security operations under international maritime conventions to build security, which promotes stability and global prosperity in the maritime environment and complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations," he continued.
Units participating in GKIII included Bahraini Navy frigate RBNS Al Manama (FPBGH 50), Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Mana (F 111), amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168), members of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 9 and various U.S. maritime patrol aircraft.
According to Capt. Jim Loeblein, commander of Task Group 152.0 and Destroyer Squadron 9, the exercise's key event was coalition team members handling command and control of a specific vessel of interest that could pose a threat to one of the coalition nations in the Gulf region.
The exercise allowed coalition boarding teams to board the vessel of interest, locate and take control of a person of interest and practice the procedures for turning him over to Coast Guard ships.
Loeblein said that building security is not the only advantage of these exercises.
"While helping to build regional security, exercises like GKIII also allow us to maintain our open sea lanes. This is a very important area of the world for merchant traffic and regional Navy traffic, and exercises like this allow us [to] build confidence in our regional partners and provide a combined opportunity to provide security."
Loeblein said the exercise was a tremendous success noting GKIII was the most complicated exercise CTF 152 has conducted to date.
"I'd like to see more coalition member states participating. I think the more you get involved with bilateral and multinational exercises, the more it improves the ability of the coalition and regional partners to work together towards a common security objective," Loeblein said.
Al Mansoori assumed command of CTF 152 March 4, marking the first time coalition forces have been commanded by a Gulf nation. He said coalition initiatives like this have added to improved cooperation efforts within the region.
"I believe Bahrain's leadership of CTF 152 has been very successful and has improved cooperation in maritime security within the region," Al Mansoori said. "The 20-plus members of the coalition all work together seamlessly. We are proud of the work we have accomplished while leading CTF 152."
Editor's Note: British Royal Navy Commodore Peter Hudson became the new CTF 152 commander June 5.
Coalition comes together to complete disaster relief training
By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Coleman Thompson
Combined Task Force 59 (CTF 59) recently completed a humanitarian assistance training exercise in the Arabian Gulf. The exercise was designed to improve the task force's collective response capabilities in the event of a natural disaster.
The "In Lieu Of" exercise tested the joint task force's abilities to set up a command and control center to facilitate relief efforts without, or in lieu of, the support of a Marine expeditionary unit.
Likewise, the exercise, part of expeditionary strike group (ESG) training, provided an excellent opportunity for the United States to show its willingness to support regional nations in times of crisis.
"The purpose of the exercise is to deepen our capability in humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery," said Rear Adm. Kendall L. Card, commander, ESG 3.
"We're trying to broaden our capabilities, and by doing so, we reduce the response time, and we reduce deaths and mitigate human suffering," Card said.
The units that participated in the exercise were ESG 3, CTF 59, the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), U.S. Army Central, U.S. Air Force Central, U.S. Marine Corps Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), CTF 56, CTF 55 and CTF 53.
CTF 59, NAVCENT's crisis response task force, is responsible for planning and executing contingency operations in the region including disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, oil spill response, noncombatant evacuation and foreign consequence management.
"We rely on all the services' capabilities to provide the best response to these crises.
"Each of the services has unique capabilities and by putting them all together under one commander we provide the very best the United States has to offer in terms of resources," Card said.
The exercise took place from May 18-25 both at sea on Nassau and on shore in a camp built by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74, a NAVCENT detachment in Bahrain. The exercise involved the movement of personnel and equipment from ship-to-shore and establishing a command and control environment both on land and afloat.
"Exercises like this are important because it tests our ability to stand up a joint task force and to conduct crisis response operations, which is something that we're responsible for as CTF 59," said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Pezzato, contingency planner for ESG 3 and CTF 59.
In the event of an actual crisis in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, CTF 59 is the command and control task force currently assigned to immediately respond if the host nation requests aid.
Said Pezzato, "As NAVCENT's agent for crisis response, it's something that we don't always get to practice because it involves members of all different services coming together to form a joint task force."
Aside from testing and improving the abilities of the task force, the exercise also helps to strengthen regional relationships and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the security and welfare of the region.
"This provides an opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with the friendly countries out here," said Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, then commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, commander, Combined Maritime Forces, and NAVCENT commander.
"We have to make sure that other countries see us as reliable and that we want to contribute to the well-being of the citizens," Cosgriff said.
"Exercises like this improve our relationship with the host nation because even though we're not actually providing assistance to any one nation, it shows them that it is one of our missions to help out in the event of a crisis.
"It demonstrates our commitment to the region and shows that we're not just here for warfighting, we're also here to maintain a presence of the United States in helpful situations," Pezzato said.
CTF 59 is made up of personnel from ESG 3, which is based in San Diego. The ESG 3 command element is currently deployed to Naval Station Activity Bahrain.
Editor's Note: Vice Adm. William Gortney assumed command of NAVCENT/5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces July 5. For more information, please contact U.S. Naval Forces Central Command public affairs office at 011-973-1785-4027 or email@example.com.
U.S., Pakisten Forces Complete Inspired Union 2008
By Nassau Strike Group Public Affairs
Pakistan and U.S. naval forces completed Exercise Inspired Union 2008 in the North Arabian Sea May 21, which focused on air, surface and anti-submarine training, as part of regional maritime security operations (MSO).
Pakistani forces, including PNS Badr (D 184), PNS Shahjahan (D 186), PNS Nasr (A-47) and Pakistan Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal, participated in the bilateral exercise along with Sailors from USS Curts (FFG 38) and USS Ross (DDG 71). Other U.S. forces participating included Destroyer Squadron 50 and Combined Task Forces (CTF) 54, 55 and 57.
"This exercise allowed the U.S. and the Pakistani Navy to demonstrate and improve our interoperability in a variety of warfare areas," explained Capt. Paul Severs, commander, Destroyer Squadron 50. "Inspired Union focused on surface warfare, air defense, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations and ended with a final event using all warfare areas."
Pakistan is an integral member of the coalition and has commanded Combined Task Force 150 twice, most recently from November 2007 through February 2008.
Coalition Maritime Forces regularly operate throughout international waters in the North Arabian Sea to conduct MSO. Coalition ships assigned to CTF 150 operate throughout the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
"It was a very successful exercise," Severs said. "From the planning conferences to the pre-sail seminars and the at-sea-events, the exercise was well-coordinated. Inspired Union also allowed sailors from both navies to participate in professional exchanges to understand how different coalition ships operate at sea."
Severs noted that the bilateral cooperation was key to the exercise's success.
The exercise also provided an opportunity for Curts to visit Karachi during a three-day port visit. The visit offered the crew an opportunity to plan for Inspired Union, conduct cultural exchanges and engage in sporting events with their Pakistani Navy counterparts.
"This is the first visit by a U.S. ship to Karachi since September 2006, and we are grateful for the opportunity to visit Pakistan," said Cmdr. Yvette Davids, Curts' commanding officer.
"Visits by U.S. Navy ships symbolize the continued friendship and partnerships between countries and military services — it allows us to increase our cooperative engagement and exemplifies our commitment to building trust and confidence among friends worldwide," Davids said.
Curts, homeported in San Diego, Calif., is part of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group. USS Ross, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is part of the USS Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group.