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Combined Maritime Forces

Context

  • India has officially begun working with the Bahrain-based multilateral partnership, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
    • India announced its intention to join the CMF as an Associate Partner at the India-US 2+2 in April.
  • According to official sources, the modalities of the exact nature of cooperation are being worked out.
    • The modalities will specify how many ships India will deploy and whether it will begin with personnel deployment.

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Internal security, Defense

Mains Question

Criminals and anti-national activities have always been a threat to India’s coasts. When discussing potential threats, emphasise India’s coastal security measures. (250 words)


Bahrain Combined Maritime Forces (CMF-B)

  • It is a counter-terrorism coalition led by the United States that aims to protect international waters. It was founded in 2002 with just 12 members.
  • The coalition was formed with like-minded partners to combat international terrorism and maintain the international rules-based order.
  • In 2001, the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) was tasked with leading the then-CMF.
  • Bahrain is the coalition’s headquarters.

Role

  • The CMF-B is primarily responsible for maintaining stability and security in 3.2 million square miles of international waters.
  • It takes action against illegal non-state actors who operate in critical sea lines of communication.
  • Its mission has expanded beyond counterterrorism to include counter-narcotics, counter-smuggling, and piracy suppression.

Membership

  • Participation in the CMF-B is entirely voluntary; neither a political nor a military agreement requires it.
  • The coalition includes 34 members from all over the world.
  • India recently joined the maritime partnership as an associate member.
  • Pakistan, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Singapore, and Malaysia are the other Asian members (full members).

Working

  • The CMF-B divides its work into four combined task forces (CTF): CTF 150, CTF 151, CTF 152, and CTF 153.
    • The CTF 150 is primarily concerned with maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
    • CTF 151 is concerned with counterpiracy.
    • The CTF 152’s mission is to maintain maritime security in the Persian Gulf.
    • The CTF 153, which was formed in April 2022, is responsible for ensuring maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

CMF-B and India

  • Previously, India conducted similar anti-piracy missions on its own.
    • India has two ships stationed around the clock between the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf to combat piracy and smuggling.
  • With the addition of India to this group, it will work in tandem with the CMF-B members.
  • As an associate member, India will reportedly not be given command of the task forces and will have little say in operational planning.

Significance

  • Greater regional maritime security
    • It will strengthen regional security cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean.
    • It is also consistent with India’s commitment to collective maritime security in the Indian Ocean.
  • India has previously collaborated with the CMF.
  • For example, the CMF’s CTF 151 has worked with Indian and Chinese warships on anti-piracy patrols to patrol the Maritime Security Transit Corridor.
  • Increasing military diplomacy
  • The Indian Navy’s participation in the CMF is the latest in a series of multilateral engagements as part of India’s expanding military diplomacy.

 

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September 2022
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