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Coalition Exercises Strengthen with Maritime Security Core

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080407-09
Release Date: 4/7/2008 3:41:00 PM

From Destroyer Squadron 26 Public Affairs

USS Cleveland, At Sea (NNS) -- From January to March, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 embarked USS Cleveland (LPD 7) to assume the role of an Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) for several coalition exercises in 5th Fleet area of operations.

Cleveland's capabilities made it the ideal platform to bridge the gap between the littoral environment and the open ocean. As an operational center of gravity, the AFSB fused littoral navies into the coalition's efforts to keep sea lines of communication open, promote legitimate maritime commerce and strengthen freedom of navigation in the region.

"We're extremely pleased with the integration and the enthusiasm of our regional partners in these exercises," said Capt. Rick Williams, DESRON 26, commodore during AFSB. "Using an Afloat Forward Staging Base has afforded the opportunity for these forces to conduct sustained operations outside of their territorial waters."

The AFSB extends the range and endurance of the region's existing forces.

SH-60 Seahawk helicopters of the HS-7 "Dusty Dogs" linked the AFSB with coalition destroyers, regional nation combatants and auxiliary ships to form a combined network capable of surveillance covering an area much larger than individual units.

"Our Sailors have been the real strength of this process," said Williams. "Sailors like Operations Specialist 1st Class Larry Wilson are passing discrete skill sets to coalition counterparts, boosting the capacity for taking littoral law-enforcement into the smugglers' operating areas."

Naval officers from regional partner nations embarked Cleveland to train and observe coalition visit, board, search and seizure operations as well as plan coordinated protection of key infrastructure.

This knowledge of commercial and criminal operating patterns greatly enhances coalition operational capabilities in the region. Bahrain assumed command of the Persian Gulf's primary Task Force, March 4, marking the first time coalition forces have been commanded by a Gulf nation. Gulf Coast countries such as Bahrain play a vital role in coalition efforts.

"Gulf navies have an intimate understanding of Arabian Gulf sea lanes of communication," said Williams. "They are well-suited to coordinate regional patrol and security operations."

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water more commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

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