Combined Maritime Forces welcomes a new commander at a change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity in Bahrain, 19 September 2017.

Vice Admiral John C. Aquilino relieved Vice Admiral Kevin M. Donegan as Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F), and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).



Having assumed command on 3rd September 2015, VADM Donegan has spent two years as the CMF commander. A multi-national naval partnership, CMF exists to promote security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

VADM Donegan said: “The reason why the United States and 31 other nations that make up the Combined Maritime Forces continue to operate here and why they send their capital warships from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea, from the UK and France, as well as so many nations from the region and the GCC, they come here to Bahrain to become part of a collective winning team of like-minded nations, enhancing security from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz.”


During the ceremony, VADM Donegan was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by General Joseph L. Votel, Commander U.S. Central Command, who presided over the ceremony. Created in 1919, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a military decoration of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps that is presented to recognise distinguished and exceptionally meritorious service to the United States while serving in a duty or position of great responsibility.

GEN Votel took command of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), a theater-level Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. Department of Defense, on 1 September 2016. Established in 1983, its area of responsibility includes countries in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central Asia.


During his speech, GEN Votel said: “With regard to our 32 member Combined Maritime Force, this fall, because of Admiral Donegan’s leadership, all three Task Forces will be commanded by regional partners: Bahrain, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, highlighting the importance you have placed on integration and mentorship.”

VADM Aquilino comes to CMF and NAVCENT following his most recent tour as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plans and Strategy. His previous flag assignments include Director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command, Deputy Director Joint Force Coordinator at the Joint Staff, Commander Carrier Strike Group 2, and Director of Maritime Operations U.S. Pacific Fleet.


On assuming command, VADM Aquilino said: “Having deployed to this region many times, and recently watched the activities from my chair at the Pentagon, I’m honoured to lead this uniquely important forward-deployed fleet.”