Commodore Tony Millar of the Royal New Zealand Navy has taken command of Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) counter-piracy operations from Rear Admiral Youngjoo Cho, Republic of Korea Navy, at a ceremony in Bahrain on 28 August 2014. The ceremony marked South Korea’s third command of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151).
In his remarks, Rear Admiral Cho highlighted the benefits of working within the strong multinational setting of CMF. He said: “It has been an honour to lead a multi-national team of 22 individuals from 8 nations – a team that has not only had success but has also widened my horizon of insight. I thank them for their support and hard work.”
He also noted that the unique nature of CMF is key to its success: “What makes us exceptional, what makes us CMF, is our allegiance to a multinational maritime partnership, with having a common purpose to provide security and prosperity in the maritime environment.”
Vice Admiral John W. Miller, Commander Combined Maritime Forces, presided over the handover. He noted the continuing achievement of CTF-151 under Rear Admiral Cho’s leadership and said: “The Republic of Korea has been a valuable and contributing member of the task force since the beginning. Thanks to your country’s participation, and especially under your leadership, we have continued our success, and deepened our partnerships with other counter-piracy task forces and independent deployers.”
Republic of Korea (ROK) Escort Task Groups have deployed to the Gulf on counter-piracy operations sixteen times and have previously commanded CTF-151 in 2010 and 2012.
Vice Admiral Miller also noted he was very much looking forward to working with Commodore Millar, the incoming Commander of CTF-151. He said: “I am very excited to have New Zealand in command of this task force once again. This is the second time in the last three years they have taken the lead. New Zealand has a very rich and tremendous naval history and will bring incredible insight to the task force.”
Commodore Millar thanked Rear Admiral Cho for all of his efforts in providing a seamless and orderly command transition and noted how important the work of CTF-151 is in protecting maritime trade and freedom of movement for seafaring nations.
He said: “Freedom of the seas is essential for inter-continental trade. The actions of pirates and other criminal elements are a major global security challenge.”
To conclude the event, the incoming CTF-151 performed a Haka, a traditional Māori challenge used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace. Commodore Millar explained why it was appropriate to include this in the proceedings: “While originally intended as a cry to war and a challenge – it is also used to show respect to warriors and chieftains – or Rangitira. To be accorded a Haka is an honour and should be appreciated as such.”