India formally commenced cooperation with the Bahrain-based multilateral partnership, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)
Established in 2001, it was formed as a coalition of regional and international like-minded partners to counter the threat of international terrorism and uphold the international rules-based order.
The United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) was tasked with leading the then CMF in 2001.
Today, the CMF-B is primarily tasked with ensuring stability and security across 3.2 million square miles of international waters by acting against illegal non-state actors operating in vital sea lines of communication. Its scope has expanded from just counterterrorism to counternarcotics, countersmuggling operations, and suppressing piracy.
The coalition is headquartered in Bahrain, along with the NAVCENT and the 5th fleet of the US.
Other Asian members include Pakistan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore and Malaysia.
Participation in the CMF-B is voluntary — it’s mandated neither by a political agreement nor a military one. So far, India has been conducting similar anti-piracy missions on its own.
The work of the CMF-B is divided into four combined task forces –
- CTF 150
- CTF 151
- CTF 152
- CTF 153
The CTF 150 focuses on ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
Participating nations have included Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Command of CTF 150 generally rotates between nations on a four-monthly basis. It’s currently being commanded by the Pakistan Navy.
CTF 151 focuses on counterpiracy. The CTF 152 aims to ensure maritime security in the Arabian Gulf (also known as Persian Gulf) and is currently being commanded by the Kuwait Navy.
The CTF 153 — which was established in April 2022 — focuses on ensuring maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and is currently being commanded by the US Navy.
Pakistan has held the most commanderships of the CTF 150 and CTF 151, at 12 and 9 times, respectively.