[As prepared by Vice Admiral Jim Malloy]

“Thank you for joining us both in person and virtually.  Today, we gather to reinforce our support of and involvement in the Combined Maritime Forces with this year’s Maritime Security Conference. I appreciate each of you taking time to be here on behalf of your nation.  We have 34 nations and partners participating in today’s event, which is proof of our shared commitment to maritime security and freedom of navigation.

CMF is truly a special international effort- a team that I am proud to be a part of. Of all the teams on which I have served, CMF stands out as a shining example of a coalition of the willing – formed around and dedicated to the ideals of promoting and defending maritime security – and protecting and allowing for legitimate trade and commerce – and doing so collectively with each nation’s contribution valuable and valued.   

CMF began as a Friendly Forces Coordination Cell almost 20 years ago and has steadily grown into the force it is now.  It remains a testament to the importance of our collective mission and the extraordinary capability brought by each of its members. 

I am proud to say that I was here at CMF’s beginning, while serving on the U.S. 5th Fleet staff, and it has been my honor to serve subsequent tours in the region alongside and within this coalition.  Watching how our coalition has grown, expanded and succeeded has been very meaningful to me – watching shipmates depart and then return to assume even greater roles of authority. I know you share my sense of pride in CMF being the model of inclusive, collaborative international military cooperation and engagement.

Our strength comes from the diversity of our 33 member nations, our partnerships with other nations, our flexibility, our professionalism, and our ability to remain apolitical. It is especially valuable that each member country dedicates specific resources, assets and unique skill sets, while observing and respecting its own national mandates and restrictions. We have a lot to celebrate and discuss today. 

Let me share a few highlights. 

  • In the first half of 2020, three ships operating as part of CTF 150 seized a total of 8045 kilos of hashish in four separate events. 
  • CTF 151 led Focused Operation Ikarus, with six nations conducting boarding and MEDEVAC exercises, and increased data gathering coordination efforts around the Somali Coast, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. 
  • And as part of CTF 152, units from Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United States conducted Exercise Falcon Response, which tested and increased interoperability capacity in a SOLAS incident. 

Every exercise, operation, engagement and TF Change of Command that CMF undertakes requires cooperation and coordination, which builds capacity, increases interoperability, and deepens friendships and trust which further strengthens our team.

Since its inception, CMF has been and remains enduring, adaptive and incredibly relevant. While the Maritime Security Strategy and CMF Campaign Plan are reviewed each year, this year CDRE Bassett, CMF’s Deputy Commander – my partner and the commander of Royal Navy forces in the region – led a capstone Comprehensive Strategic Review – with your SNRs providing feedback and input throughout. 

Several key items came out of this year’s review that will bring benefits to CMF, sharpening our message and our focus. This conference serves as our prime opportunity to discuss these items and the ways we will further improve our high level of mission achievement in the coming years. I’m looking forward to the robust and inclusive dialogue that CDRE Bassett and I will lead today. 

I look forward to today’s discussion and want to assure you all that we are operating today under the Chatham House Rule. This will hopefully encourage everyone to speak candidly. Let us agree to honor the rule, which is that “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker…nor that of any other participant, may be revealed in any document.”

Today’s meeting itself is an enactment of key principles we’ve set forth for CMF. It is member-led and inclusive – all voices matter and will be heard. Even though we aren’t all meeting in person, I want to stress the importance of each member of this amazing team participating in the dialogue. In addition, I pose a challenge to everyone “here” virtually and in person today: let’s each find a way to connect with one of our partners on a 1:1 level, so we can exchange ideas and strengthen individual relationships. By doing so, we will strengthen the foundation of CMF as we forge our collective path forward.

With that, I’ll turn it over to CDRE Bassett, who has a lot to share with us. If you’re not motivated now, I think you will be by the end of the day’s discussions. Dean, over to you …”