- 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.
GS Paper 3: Internal security, Defense
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.