KARACHI -- Pakistan August 5 took over leadership of a task force that patrols more than 2m square miles of ocean.
At a ceremony in Bahrain, the Pakistani navy took over command of Combined Task Force-150 (CTF-150) for the ninth time, effective August 15.
The multi-national force has been operating since 2001 and patrols the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. Command switches from one country to another every four to six months.
CTF-150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), Commodore Bilal Abdul Nasir of the Pakistani navy told Pakistan Forward.
His team is fully prepared to shoulder its responsibilities in commanding CTF-150 and in maintaining maritime security in its Area of Operation (AOR), he said.
The Pakistani navy seeks to achieve mutual goals, not just its own, in its engagement with the CMF, Pakistani naval spokeswoman Lt. Commander Nazia Iqbal told Pakistan Forward.
"The coalition atmosphere has not only promoted greater inter-operability but also has stimulated us to achieve higher professional standards," she said.
The navy's repeated deployments and interactions with other navies have made it much more capable of responding to regional crises, she said.
The Pakistani navy, since 2004, has consistently provided ships and helicopters to the CMF, Iqbal said, adding that in numbers of ships, aircraft and command staff provided, it is the second most active navy participating in the CMF.
"CTF-150's mission is to maintain security in order to counter any terrorist acts," Karachi-based security analyst Col. (Ret.) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt told Pakistan Forward.
The other major goal of CTF-150 is to keep an eye on terrorists who move personnel, ammunition and narcotics by sea.
One of CTF-150's major achievements in recent years was ending a plague of piracy, Butt said, recalling how pirates used to seize ships in the task force's AOR and would demand ransom for their crews.
Presently 16 navies participate in CTF-150, he said.