On July 5, 2013, Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, Commodore Muhammad Ihsan Qadir SI Pakistan Navy (M), met with Commander, CTF 150, Captain Hervé Bléjean of the French Navy. The meeting between the two task force commanders took place at sea onboard TCG GÖKSU (F-497), the CTF 151 flagship. The Commanding Officer of TCG GÖKSU, Commander Ahmet Gül Turkish Navy, and the CTF 151 Chief of Staff, Captain Khalid Pervez Pakistan Navy, also attended the meeting.
CTF 151 and CTF 150 are organized and operated under the command of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which is headquartered in Bahrain. CMF is a coalition of 29 nations dedicated to securing and stabilizing the maritime environment across a huge area – spanning from the Arabian Gulf to the Suez Canal in the north and from Pakistan to Kenya in the south. CTF 150’s mission focuses on counter-terrorism operations, whereas CTF 151 conducts counter-piracy operations in an effort to deter, disrupt, and defeat piracy in CMF’s area of operations. This meeting provided the task force commanders with an opportunity to share their experiences and discuss the state of maritime security throughout the region.
During the meeting, both Commodore Qadir and Captain Bléjean discussed the importance of maintaining the current international effort in order to alleviate concerns from the maritime shipping industry. Specifically, Commodore Qadir stated that although pirate activity has declined, if the international community shifts its focus, the environment is still ripe for pirate-related activities to flare up. Captain Bléjean agreed and stated that the true solution to the piracy dilemma remains ashore and will require greater political and economic stability in countries like Somalia.
Given the enormous area that CMF monitors, it is impossible for CTF 150 and CTF 151 to have a constant physical presence throughout each segment of the region. As such, the commanders discussed how the task forces could continue to work together in order to efficiently and effectively deploy units. Both task force commanders agreed that this cooperation must go beyond simply sharing information and should include, if necessary, providing naval units to support each other’s operations.
Following the meeting, Commodore Qadir was pleased and believed that the discussion would lead to further synchronisation between the task forces. “CTF 150 and 151 target two of the greatest threats to maritime security—piracy and terrorism. However, our partnership goes beyond these two dangers and contributes to maintaining the freedom of the seas throughout the region. I’m confident that our task forces will continue to collaborate and bring greater stability to the maritime environment,” the Commodore stated after the meeting.