What is the Combined Military Forces-Bahrain? The US-backed coalition that India joined on the fringes of Quad


New Delhi: India joined the US-backed group Combined Military Forces-Bahrain (CMF-B) — a counterterrorism coalition aimed at protecting international waters — on Tuesday as an associate member.

the announcement was made after US President Joe Biden met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Quad’s second in-person summit – including India, USA, Japan and Australia.

India becomes the 35th member of the maritime partnership which also includes Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

The development comes a month after Defense Minister Rajnath Singh announcement that India would join the CMF-B coalition, after the India-US 2+2.

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What is CMF-B?

Created in 2001 with only 12 membersthe coalition—then called the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)—was shape as a coalition of like-minded regional and international partners to counter the threat of international terrorism and uphold the rules-based international order.

United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) been charged with the management of the CMF at the time in 2001.

Today, CMF-B is primarily responsible for providing stability and security to 3.2 million square miles of international waters by acting against illegal non-state actors operating on vital maritime lines of communication. Its scope has extended from simple counter-terrorism to the fight against narcotics, smuggling operations and the repression of piracy.

The coalition is headquartered in Bahrain, with the NAVCENT and the 5and United States fleet.

Other Asian members include Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore and Malaysia.

Participation in CMF-B is voluntary—it is not mandated by political or military agreement.

India has so far carried out similar counter-piracy missions on its own.

“With India now joining this grouping, it will operate in coordination with members of CMF-B,” a defense source told ThePrint. “Currently, India has two ships deployed around the clock between the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf for counter-piracy and counter-smuggling operations.”

Details of India’s membership have yet to be worked out, the sources said.

“These will be finalized in due course,” a source added. “The modalities will determine how many ships India will deploy and whether they will start by deploying personnel.”

CMF-B working groups

The work of CMF-B is divided into four combined working groups – CTF 150, CTF 151, CTF 152 and CTF 153.

the FCT 150 focuses on ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

Participating nations are Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain, Saudi Arabia, United United and the United States. Command of CTF 150 typically rotates between nations on a four-month basis. It is currently commanded by the Pakistan Navy.

CTF 151 focuses on the fight against piracy. the CTF 152 intended to provide maritime security in the Persian Gulf (also known as the Persian Gulf) and is currently commanded by the Kuwait Navy.

the CTF 153 – which was established in April 2022 – focuses on maritime security in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and is currently commissioned by the US Navy.

Pakistan holds the most commandments of CTF 150 and CTF 151, 12 and 9 times, respectively.

As an associate member, India would apparently not get command of the task forces and would also have a limited say in the planning of operations.

Structurally, the CMF-B is commanded by a US Navy vice-admiral. The vice admiral also serves as the commander of NAVCENT and the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The Deputy Commanding Officer of CMF-B is a UK Royal Navy Commodore.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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