Vice Adm. Samuel J. Paparo has formally handed over command of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) to Vice Adm. Brad Cooper in a ceremony held at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, May 5.
Paparo, a U.S. naval aviator and Topgun graduate, will assume duties as the 4-star commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT) based in Hawaii. Cooper takes command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and CMF, having most recently commanded U.S. Naval Surface Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.
CMF headquarters – located in Bahrain for 20 – years is the largest naval coalition in the world, with 34 nations partnered and committed to combating counter-piracy, counter-terror and counter illicit trafficking from non-state actors.
“CMF works so well because of the relationships between strategic partners, regional forces and international organizations to deliver maritime security operations and to build maritime security across the region,” said Paparo. “We are invested in the mutual enrichment of each of our navies, leveraging the CMF forum to build those critical mil-to-mil relationships which will pay dividends for years to come. This, in turn, will benefit the overall commercial and military shipping industry by helping to safeguard these waters from illicit behavior on the high seas.”
Under his leadership since August 2020, CMF has seen several positive developments, including the recent addition of Egypt as the 34th member nation, and three of the CMF Task Forces being led by, no less than, five different countries. Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has been hugely successful in its counter-narcotics operations, seizing more than 75,700 lbs (34,300 kg) of illicit narcotics. CTF-151 continues to deter maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman, and CTF-152 has maintained the freedom of navigation in the Gulf, keeping merchant shipping safe. All this has been conducted amid a global pandemic.
“I am most proud of the growth and expansion of our partner nations within the CMF organization, and the resilience and the sincerity that people have shown in taking care of each other during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Paparo said.
Commodore Ed Ahlgren OBE Royal Navy, Deputy Commander CMF said, “On behalf of CMF and UKMCC, we thank Vice Adm. Paparo for his inspirational leadership, stalwart support and above all, his friendship. His unequivocal direction came from his comprehensive understanding of the battlespace and the complex environment that we are currently operating. His innovative approach and clear vision have enhanced this unique multinational partnership, in the year of CMF. He has provided unremitting support to all those serving within the CMF. He will be sorely missed, and we wish him luck in his next appointment as Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet.”
As CMF bids farewell to their commander, Paparo said; “It has been a huge honor to serve here and a huge privilege to be a part of this team that has such a spirit de corps on such an important mission. A mission that we can all be proud of.”