PROTECTING marine wealth and curbing illegal immigrants are among the top priorities of the new leadership of a regional task force in charge of maritime security.
The Kuwaiti Coastguard, which took command of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 152 yesterday, also pledged to fight illegal crimes and suspicious activities in the region.
This is the first time ever a member nation’s coastguard is assuming command of the task force, which is one of three wings of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
In a ceremony held at the US Navy base in Juffair, Kuwaiti Coastguard Captain Saleh S Alfodary took over from CTF 152 outgoing commander, Royal Saudi Navy Captain Abdullah B Albader, after a year-long tenure.
“Protection of the marine environment is one of the major topics that we need to be carefully addressing, which is a challenge and a priority,” Capt Alfodary told the GDN on the sidelines of the ceremony.
“This region is very much dependent on this water and we live from this water, so we have to be careful about protecting its wealth and resources.
“We are aware of the maritime pollution and taking care of the marine environment and wealth will be of a priority for us at the CTF 152.”
The change of command was conducted in the presence of US Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Scott Stearney and a number of VIPs, guests and CMF members.
“The illegal immigrants from the Northern Gulf and the eastern coast of the Gulf are also matters of concern depending on the given situation in those regions,” he continued.
“We believe that the number of illegal immigrants coming from these areas to the Gulf is likely to go up, which is something we have to be prepared for and remain vigilant about.
“As a combined task force we are indeed ready and prepared and we even have shelters ready for them.
“However, we wish this issue remains limited for which maintaining peace is important.”
Capt Alfodary, in his address, noted that the aim of the team (CTF152) was to conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf, increase co-operation between GCC navies and coastguards in all aspects especially with the force flow and sharing information.
“Fighting all illegal crimes and suspicious activities in the region and establishing a strong relationship by sharing information with all the task forces, units and personnel are the other areas to focus on.
“This is the first time ever that a law-enforcing body is taking command of any of the combined task forces under the CMF.
“As Kuwaiti Coastguard, we have had partnerships in the past with CMF in various operations and have supported them.
“I am sure with this background we will be able to do much in the coming year.
“And the good relationships that we have established with the GCC navies and Coastguards will be an added merit.”
Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet, which commands the CMF, a multinational naval partnership of 32 nations tasked with protecting international shipping lanes across the region.
The other task forces under the CMF are the CTF 150, that promotes maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, and the CTF 151, which is the counter-piracy axis.