Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

A 33-nation maritime security partnership

CMF Leadership

Vice Admiral Samuel Paparo

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command

Vice Adm. Sam Paparo, a native of Morton, Pennsylvania graduated from Villanova University and was commissioned in 1987.  He is the son of a former enlisted Marine and the grandson of a World War 2 enlisted Sailor. He has earned a Master of Arts in International Studies from Old Dominion University and a Master of Science in Systems Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School.  He is also a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, the Air War College, the Naval War College and the Joint and Combined Warfighting School.  A U.S. Naval Aviator, he is a Topgun graduate and has flown over 6,000 hours in the F-14, F-15 and F/A-18 and 1,100 carrier landings.

Operational command tours at sea include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 in the Forward Deployed Naval Forces, Yokosuka, Japan, deploying in Kitty Hawk Strike Group; Commander, Carrier Air Wing 7, embarked in Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group and Commander, Carrier Strike Group Ten.  On the ground, he commanded Provincial Reconstruction Team, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.  Other operational assignments at sea include Fighter Squadron (VF) 14, flying the F-14 Tomcat with USS John F. Kennedy and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Groups and VFA-15, flying the F/A-18 Hornet with USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Enterprise Strike Groups.  He served also on exchange duty with the U.S. Air Force flying the F-15C Eagle with the 71st Fighter Squadron. In joint operational service, he was battle director at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Al Udeid, Qatar.

His shore assignments include the staff of Commander, Naval Air Forces, as F/A-18 training, readiness and requirements officer.  He served as commanding officer of VFA-106.  He was Programming Division (OPNAV N80) branch head, Strategy and Resource and Requirements Review Board branch.  He also had duty as a Navy corporate fellow in Corporate Strategy at Lockheed Martin.  Executive staff tours include service as executive assistant to Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, command and executive assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations.

Paparo’s most recent assignment was Director of Operations, J3, U.S. Central Command from April 2018 to July 2020.  He assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces on August 19, 2020.

Commodore Dean Bassett

United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander and Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces


Commodore Bassett has deployed across the globe, working closely with NATO, EU and coalition partners.  His early sea experience included Officer of the Watch, Navigating Officer and Command appointments in various ships prior to serving as the Operations Officer in the Type 22 Frigate HMS CUMBERLAND, deploying to the Middle East under Op TELIC.  As the Executive Officer of HMS IRON DUKE he oversaw the provision of humanitarian assistance to UK Overseas Territories in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.  During his command of HMS MONMOUTH he worked with international partners in the Middle East under Op KIPION, contributing to global maritime security and capacity building in the region.  Latterly he commanded HMS BULWARK, the UK’s very high readiness amphibious assault ship, deploying to the Middle East as part of the COUGAR 14 Task Group.

On land, his operational experience includes a tour in Iraq at the height of the US surge in 2007, and wider defence activity across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America.  He has also held various staff positions, including Flag Lieutenant to the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, and appointments on the staff at the UK’s Joint Force Headquarters and within the Plans Division of the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters. As a Captain, he served as the Assistant Head UK Military Operations, within the Ministry of Defence, with strategic oversight of military operations in the UK, including Counter Terrorism, and most recently as the Deputy Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff.

He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Maritime Defence Management and Technology, attended the UK Advanced Command and Staff Course, graduating with a Masters degree in Defence Studies from King’s College London, and is an alumni of the UK Higher Command and Staff Course.

Commodore Bassett will assume the roles of United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander & Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces in June 2019.

Captain Mubarak Ali Yousuf Al Sabah

Assistant to Commander CMF for Regional integration

Captain Mubarak with beret

He started his military career with Kuwait Navy in 2001 by joining Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth. A few years after graduation he joined Kuwait Coast Guard in 2004. Upon his extraordinary performance and professionalism he assumed several command posts. He commanded several ships (Sabahi Class). Then he went to an operational post and was appointed Chief of Maritime Operations and in 2009. In 2015 he was appointed Flotilla Commander responsible for more than one hundred surface assets commissioned to execute Maritime Security Operations in Kuwait’s TTW and EEZ.

He is a member of the Royal College of Defense Studies and holds a Master of Arts (MA), in International Security & Strategy from King’s College London. He is a 2011 graduate of Mubarak Al Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College, a 2014 graduate of Australian College of Kuwait with an electronic engineering degree and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Maritime Science from The University of Plymouth.

Captain Al Sabah is a combat-tested leader who has earned frontline experience through Operation Iraqi Freedom and numerous joint maritime exercises throughout the Middle East, United Kingdom and United States of America.  His leadership during these exercises has earned him the trust and respect of naval and military leaders from across the international community.

His command, staff appointments, education and experience have broadened his strategic perspective. His strategic perspective have led him to organizing international conferences, media events and high-level strategic engagements to enhance regional, national and international security. Most notable, is his keen ability to anticipate emerging opportunities and security threats in the Middle East region at levels normally expected of diplomats, naval or military leaders senior to him in rank.

In February 2019, Captain Mubarak Ali Al Sabah assumed duties as Commander of Combined Task Force 152 responsible for coordinating and enhancing regional maritime security and cooperation in the Arabian Gulf. He led the largest sustained Joint Patrol in in CTF 152 recent history with over 60 Naval and Coast Guard vessels from contributing nations of Combined Maritime Forces.

In September 2019, Captain Mubarak Ali Al Sabah assumed duties as “Assistant to Commander CMF for Regional Integration”.  He is currently a senior official of Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior, promoting Public Diplomacy, Foreign Policy and International Relations.

Commander Robert Shu

Chief of Staff Combined Maritime Forces (COS CMF)

20190912_Cdr Shu Bio Photo

Commander Robert Shu was raised in Hermiston, Oregon. He received his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1998.

Commander Shu has served at sea aboard USS CURTIS WILBUR (DDG 54) as Communications Officer, USS CUSHING (DD 985) as Auxiliaries Officer and Navigator, USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) as Engineer Officer and USS PATRIOT (MCM 7) as both Executive Officer and Commanding Officer.​​ Commander Shu reported to USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) as Executive Officer in May 2014 and assumed command in December 2015. Upon successfully completing command of USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62), CDR Shu reported as the Deputy N3 for Commander Task Force 70/Commander Carrier Strike Group Five June 2017 to June 2019.

Commander Shu served ashore as Flag Secretary for Commander, U.S. SECOND Fleet and at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J5 Directorate, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction division.

He graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelors of Arts and a Bachelors of Science in History. He holds a Masters of Arts in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and has completed Phase I of his Joint Professional Military Education.

Commander Shu reported to Combined Maritime Forces in June 2019 and currently serves as the Chief of Staff.

Commanders Shu’s personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal, and various Unit and Service awards.

Command Master Chief Lucas M. Pullen

Senior Enlisted Leader Combined Maritime Forces (SELCMF)

Lucas Pullen

Master Chief Pullen was born in Ardmore, OK and raised in Davis, OK. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in August of 1998. Following basic training at Cape May, NJ, he was assigned to Small Boat Station South Padre Island, TX were he completed “On the Job Training” for and was advance to Boatswain’s Mate Third Class. As an operator, Master Chief Pullen has been directly involved in maritime law enforcement to include fisheries, counter-narcotics, and counter-migrant operations, as well as search and rescue, and maritime security operations. Additionally, Master Chief Pullen has held command cadre assignments as the Executive Petty Officer of Station Yankeetown, FL, and USCGC PELICAN (WPB-87327) homeported in Abbeville, LA. He also held command of Station Oxford, MD as the Officer in Charge as well as commanding two 87’ (26.5m) patrol boats, USCGC COHO (WPB-87321) and USCGC KINGFISHER (WPB-87322) homeported in Panama City, FL.

Master Chief Pullen’s ashore assignment include: Station South Padre Island, TX, Training Center Yorktown, VA as a coxswain instructor, Station Yankeetown, FL, and Station Oxford, MD. Additionally, Master Chief Pullen was assigned as the Command Master Chief for Coast Guard Sector Guam from July 2018 through August 2019.

Master Chief’s afloat assignments include: USCGC GALVESTON ISLAND (WPB-1349) Apra Harbor, Guam, USCGC PELICAN (WPB-87327), Abbeville, LA, USCGC COHO (WPB-87321), and USCGC KINGFISHER (WPB-87322) both homeported in Panama City, FL.

Master Chief Pullen’s awards and decorations include three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, four Coast Guard Achievement Medals, the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation, Navy Flag Letter of Commendation, Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (with numeral 5), the permanent Cutterman’s Insignia, Boat Forces Insignia (Advanced), Coxswain Insignia, and Officer in Charge Insignias for afloat and ashore commands along with various other awards and decorations.

Master Chief Pullen was selected for and assumed the duties as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader for Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain in September of 2019; a joint military assignment working with senior leaders from 33 partner nations focused on one of the most strategically significant maritime areas in the world which includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Indian Ocean.

Master Chief Pullen is a graduate of the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy, Coast Guard Chief’s Academy, class 170, the Coast Guard’s Senior Enlisted Leadership Course, Class 58, and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Class 68. Master Chief Pullen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from American Military University, and a Master’s Degree in Leadership Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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