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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Combined Maritime Forces Counter-Pirate Force CTF-151

Forwarded from a reader:

For Immediate Release
Jan. 08, 2009
Release #001-09

New Counter-Piracy Task Force Established Commander, Combined Maritime
Forces Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain - The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has established
Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) specifically for counter-piracy

Naval ships and assets from more than 20 nations comprise the Combined
Maritime Forces. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Terence "Terry" McKnight has been
named the commander of the new task force which will be fully operational by
the middle of January.

The CMF created the Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden
in August of 2008 to support international efforts to combat piracy.
Coalition efforts included CTF-150 assets patrolling the area with ships and
aircraft. However, the charter for CTF-150, established at the outset of
Operation Enduring Freedom, was for the conduct of Maritime Security
Operations (MSO) in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, Red
Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Operations included the deterrence of destabilizing activities, such as drug
smuggling and weapons trafficking. 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 the counter-piracy mission.

"Some navies in our coalition did not have the authority to conduct
counter-piracy missions," said Vice Adm, Bill Gortney, CMF Commander. "The
establishment of CTF-151 will allow those nations to operate under the
auspices of CTF-150, 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."

Vice Adm. Gortney highlighted the reduction in piracies in the region due to
merchant mariners' proactive measures. He also continued to caution that
the efforts of Coalition and international navies won't solve the problem of

"The most effective measures we've seen to defeat piracy are non-kinetic and
defensive in nature. The merchant ships have been doing a great job
stepping up and utilizing 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. We believe the establishment of CTF-151 is a
significant step in the right direction."

CTF 151 is a multinational task force that conducts counter-piracy
operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the
Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop
security in the maritime environment.
UPDATE: Biography of RADM McKnight from here:
Rear Admiral Terence E. McKnight, a native of Norfolk, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in May 1978. He completed his master’s degree in International Relations at Salve Regina University in May 1998. Additionally, he graduated from the U.S. Army War College in 1994 and attended the National Security Seminar at Syracuse University in 2001.

Rear Adm. McKnight’s early sea duty assignments included USS El Paso (LKA 117), USS John L. Hall (FFG 32), USS Shreveport (LPD 12) and Executive Officer in USS Cayuga (LST 1186). He commanded USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) from January 1995 until November 1996 and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) from July 2002 until December 2003.

Duties ashore included the Bureau of Naval Personnel as Assistant Lieutenant Commander Detailer, Aide and Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel, Surface Warfare Officers School, Command Training Department as Head Expeditionary Warfare Instructor, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Navy (Manpower & Reserve Affairs), the Office of Chief of Naval Operations N6/N7, and Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of the Navy.

Rear Adm. McKnight served as the 85th Commandant of Naval District Washington, the oldest continuously operated Navy installation in the nation and the Deputy Commander, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region.

Rear Adm. McKnight assumed duties as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, in September 2007.

Rear Adm. McKnight’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, as well as various other unit awards and decorations.
That degree in international relations might be useful in his new job. And the VMI alumni association will be happy, I would guess. Lots of amphib service so I bet he knows how to speak "Marine."

UPDATE2: A wise cautionary note from C-dore 14 at Salamander's place:
Call me a cynic but I'd be much more impressed by the implementation of aggressive ROE executed by the forces of committed nations than I am by the assignment of a Flag Officer and the designation of a new CTF.
It is hard not to be cynical, but maybe he has some strong guidance to get those Rules of Engagement in place and a plan to have a trial court nearby...

Salamander's comments are also germane and reflect lessons learned by many of us who have served in coalition situations though I am somewhat comforted by the knowledge that the "non-swimmers" seem to be staying out of the deep end and the CTF might be composed of real sharks.

I hope the Flag Officer is ready to whup some pirates and has an aggressive staff JAG officer who has boned up on the law of fighting pirates...

UPDATE3: He needs a good JAG because of stuff like this:

Danish forces in the Gulf of Aden have no clear directive about what to do with five captive pirates

Questions about legal jurisdiction over pirates captured in international waters have again emerged after the crew of the HMS Absalon rescued five Somalis in the Gulf of Aden after their ship was sunk by a cargo ship they were reportedly attempting to board.

On 2 January the pirates attacked the ship, registered in the Netherlands Antilles. An emergency flare fired by the ship struck the pirates' boat, forcing them to abandon ship.

They were fished out of the water by Absalon, but now the Navy finds itself again in a position of having no guidelines on what to do with them.

Although the United Nations gave international forces in the Gulf of Aden permission to pursue pirates on land, criminal prosecution of pirates has become a thorn in the forces' side due to uncertainty over questions of jurisdiction.

On 3 December, Absalon was told by military headquarters in Bahrain not to pursue surrendering pirates - even though the ship's crew was certain the pirates were responsible for the attack on Australian cruise ship MV Athena that day.

Earlier in September, 10 pirates captured by the Navy had to be released because legal experts in Denmark were uncertain they could be prosecuted here and they could not be handed over to Somali authorities due to concerns that they risked capital punishment there.

The Foreign Ministry indicated it has been in contact with Dutch officials about the pirates held by Absalon, but no decision has been made.

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