The baton for Australian leadership in a key Middle East role was recently passed between two officers who share a passion for maritime security operations.
Captain Tony Aldred has assumed the role of Director Operations with the multinational Combined Maritime Forces in Bahrain from Captain Michael Turner.
Combined Maritime Forces is a naval partnership of 30 member nations promoting security, stability and prosperity across nearly 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
In the dual-hat role, Captain Aldred is now also the commander of the Australian personnel who form the Maritime Operations Support Group.
The Maritime Operations Support Group fills key leadership and operations support positions within Combined Maritime Forces headquarters, and delivers services to RAN units deployed in the Middle East region.
Captain Turner said Director Operations was responsible for the coordination of the day-to-day operations of the three Combined Maritime Forces taskforces.
“The multinational force is comprised of Combined Task Force 150, which conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism, Combined Task Force 151, which conducts counter piracy, and Combined Task Force 152, which is responsible for Arabian Gulf security and cooperation,” he said.
“There is also an Australian responsibility as the Maritime Operations Adviser to the Commander of Joint Task Force 633.”
Joint Task Force 633 provides the umbrella Joint Task Force for all Australian forces deployed in the Middle East Area of Operations.
There are about 3000 personnel, up to 15 warships and three maritime patrol aircraft in the region available for Combined Maritime Forces taskforces.
Captain Turner said his final task as a representative of Combined Maritime Forces was to brief the UN Sanctions Committee of the Security Council in New York in a joint presentation with the Afghan Ambassador to the UN, the UN Al-Qaida Taliban Monitoring Team, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
He said Combined Maritime Forces boardings directly affected terrorist financiers.
“One of Combined Maritime Forces’s key achievements has been to progress from conducting purely military operations to recognising and developing a method to work together with international law enforcement agencies and international organisations, such as the UN, to defeat serious trans-national criminal networks with terrorist links,” Captain Turner said.