On March 12, NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Giorgio Lazio, concluded a three-day visit to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet (COMUSNAVCENT).
During the visit, Rear Admiral Lazio met with USNAVCENT Deputy Commander, Rear Admiral Loeblein, USA N, and CMF Deputy Commander, Commodore Blount, GBR N. The visit built upon the already strong cooperation between NATO and CMF, and the discussion was mainly focussed on expanding the activities to include new training opportunities for NATO forces deployed in the Indian Ocean. Rear Admiral Lazio also met with Commodore Abbas, PAK N, Commander Task Force 151 and Commodore Bates, AUS N, Commander Task Force 150, to discuss ways to further enhance and possibly extend the cooperation at sea with NATO for mutual benefit.
“These opportunities to meet with the Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet are critical to our combined efforts to improve coordination in the fight to end piracy off the Somali coast,” said Rear Admiral Lazio. “Working together, we have been very successful in combating piracy in the region, but we must keep our guard up and our coordination strong so that our tactical successes can endure.”
Combined Maritime Forces were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and in the years since have evolved from being solely focused on counter-terrorism to taking on several missions, including counter-terrorism (Task Force 150), counter-piracy (Task Force 151) in the Indian Ocean, and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf (Task Force 152).
The NATO counter-piracy forces supporting Operation OCEAN SHIELD work in close coordination with the Combined Maritime Forces, the European Union Naval Force, and independent deployers in a common effort to protect Indian Ocean shipping routes from pirate attacks.
Press Release, March 13, 2014; Image: NATO MARCOM