The Royal Navy provides a permanent and significant contribution to the Combined Maritime Force (CMF), a multi-national naval partnership consisting of 31 nations and 215 personnel.
CMF, which was initially formed as part of the Global Counter Terrorism Force, is based in Bahrain and is commanded by Vice Admiral Donegan, who is also Commander US Naval Forces Central Command and Commander US Fifth Fleet. It originated in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, and more specifically as the maritime flank of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terror.
CMF exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across 3.2 million square miles of international waters in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean, an area which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. Its aims are to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, deter illegal trafficking and promote freedom of navigation for all mariners with legitimate business.
CMF operates three Combined Task Forces (CTFs): CTF150, CTF151 and CTF152. This enables the organisation to turn its vision into action. Royal Navy warships are regularly assigned to these CTFs either in Direct Support or Associated Support. In April 2016, the United Kingdom will be assuming command of CTF 150, which focusses on maritime security and counter terrorism operations in the region. Command of CTF 150 is rotated between participatory nations on a four to six month basis.
The Royal Navy is the second largest contributor of personnel to CMF, with 18 people presently performing key roles within the organisation. The Deputy Commander to CMF is a Royal Navy Commodore, Commodore Will Warrender, who is “dual hatted” as the United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander (UKMCC). UK personnel fill roles including Information Operations, Intelligence, Media, Battle Watch Captains, Legal Adviser, Admin Support and CTF Liaison Officers.
Commander Tim Watkins works in the plans area, under a French Navy Captain. His primary responsibility is the Strategic Planning and Policy for CMF for the medium to long term, and he is also the UK Senior National Representative (SNR) within CMF. Working with all the other SNRs he is the link between the UK and CMF for planning and managing the UK support to the coalition, whether it be people, or ships. He says: “This is one of the most interesting jobs I have done. Working within such a unique coalition covering a wide variety of Maritime Security missions and tasks over such a large geographical area is fascinating. Being part of the ongoing success and development of CMF is extremely rewarding and I would thoroughly recommend it”.
Two Royal Navy Officers, Lieutenant Jon Maumy, 29, and Lieutenant Will Barrowclough, 27, are embedded in the Kuwaiti-led CTF 152. The aim of CTF 152 is to disrupt maritime crime and terrorism using three main strategies: training our Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners, international engagement, and maritime security operations. In addition to the two permanent UK staff, the CTF 152 team also boasts five Kuwaitis, three Jordanians, three Americans, two Saudis, a Bahraini and an Emirati.
Originally a Merlin Mk1/2 pilot and recently qualifying as an Officer of the Watch, Lieutenant Jon Maumy is the N5 Plans Officer for the Task Force. He planned CTF 152’s latest focused operation which was aimed at preventing maritime crime in the North Arabian Gulf and involved a Kuwait Navy Ship, four US Coast Guard Cutters, RFA Fort Victoria and Royal Navy Sea King helicopters.
Lieutenant Maumy said: “Having to co-ordinate assets from different nations across the region and ensure they work together to achieve a common aim has its challenges, but it is very rewarding when you know all your planning has come together. We had Kuwaiti and US Navy ships working alongside each other, while our Royal Navy Sea Kings flew day and night from RFA Fort Victoria to provide ‘Pattern of Life’ data. I have no doubt the work our Task Force does helps to stabilise the area and ensures those vital sea lanes are kept open and safe. This is one of the most rewarding jobs I have done!”
Lieutenant Barrowclough, previously Officer of the Watch Two in HMS Protector, is both a CTF 152 Battle Watch Captain and the CTF152 Training Officer, delivering a Battle Watch Captain course to train the GCC watch keepers. In addition to this, he supports current operations and supervises the Watch Floor to ensure quality control Watch standards.
Lieutenant Commander Jim Martin is a member of the Royal Naval Reserves (RNR). He is attached to HMS Dalriada, in Glasgow, and is a member of the Information Operations (IO) branch. In his civilian career, he is employed as a science teacher for teenagers with special educational needs. During his RNR career, Lieutenant Commander Martin has previously completed an operational tour in Afghanistan and is currently mobilized to CMF Headquarters for nine months as the CMF IO Officer.
In his role as the IO Officer, Lieutenant Commander Martin seeks to prevent individuals involved in terrorism, piracy or armed robbery at sea from what they are doing by using public communications and messaging. He said: “Every Task Force comes with different levels of knowledge and experience in IO. This, coupled with working in a multi-national environment where English is a second language for many, makes the job stimulating and interesting. As the only IO specialist for CMF, you just have to get stuck in and think outside the box to overcome challenges. The biggest buzz comes from knowing that you are part of a team supporting many successful CMF operations and have played a part in disrupting those illegal activities.”
Commander Derek Rae is the liaison officer for the EU Naval Force in CMF. He provides the link between CMF’s efforts in conducting counter piracy operations and that of the EU Operational Headquarters based in Northwood. Of his role, Commander Rae said: “Close coordination is required between the two multinational coalitions to ensure that assets are used in the most operationally effective manner given the size of the operating area through which important sea lines of communication pass and which need to be kept secure from the activities of pirates. As a Royal Navy officer, this is a unique role representing a European Union multi-national coalition embedded in an international maritime coalition.”
Lieutenant Rich Sawyer is the Intelligence Collection Manager and Senior Watch Officer for CMF Headquarters and is responsible for the intelligence collection plan, managing the CMF intelligence watch and coordinating the CTF Lead Analysts within CMF. On a daily basis, Lieutenant Sawyer works alongside naval personnel from nations such as Canada, France, and Pakistan, working together towards a common aim.
Moving forward, the vision is for CMF to become an integral part of a more comprehensive, global approach to the problem of transnational crime operating around the Indian Ocean rim. Collectively CMF can achieve more by working together, rather than working in isolation and the Royal Navy will continue to contribute to the success of CMF.