Written by Cmdr. Rick Wester.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp recently visited the Kingdom of Bahrain for an annual visit to Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia and to meet with key maritime partners.
With six Island-class cutters and nearly 300 Coast Guard men and women, PATFORSWA is the largest Coast Guard unit outside of the continental United States. Based in Manama, Bahrain, it began as a contingency operation in 2003 following a U.S. Navy request for cutters to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, the mission focus has evolved from protecting Iraq’s offshore oil terminals and developing Iraqi naval forces to focusing on counter-piracy operations support, inspections of military maritime cargo and security cooperation in support of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command objectives.
PATFORSWA and U.S. Naval Forces in the Arabian Gulf collectively work together to ensure U.S. maritime national security interests in the region.
“When we think of national security, especially in the maritime environment, we often think of national defense and the work done by our Navy and Marine Corps,” said the Commandant. “They aim to control the sea, deter aggression and project power if needed. The Coast Guard is part of that, but we are more than a military service, and national security includes more than national defense.”
National security also includes economic security, environmental security, port security and resource security, and Coast Guard missions protect those elements in the maritime domain at both home and overseas, including locations such as the Arabian Gulf. This is known as “maritime governance” and it is an essential component of U.S. national security. It enhances our security, reinforces the rule of law and supports stability.
Whether working with federal, state and local agencies here in the U.S. or with other countries like Bahrain, the Coast Guard relies upon strong partnerships to carry out its broad maritime governance functions.
Bahrain, which has hosted PATFORSWA since the unit was established, provides very strong support for U.S. forces. PATFORSWA also partners closely with the Royal Bahrain Navy and the Bahrain Coast Guard.
“Bahrain’s support is key, and I was glad to personally thank Minister of State for Interior Affairs Maj. Gen. Adel Khalifa Al-Fadhel and Commander of the Bahrain Coast Guard Brig. Gen. Ala Seyadi for all of their support,” said the Commandant.
In addition to thanking Coast Guard partners, the Commandant also thanked his deployed shipmates. Together with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt, the Commandant conducted a unit all-hands meeting to thank members for volunteering for the assignment, discuss current Coast Guard issues and answer questions. The all-hands was attended by PATFORSWA Coast Guardsmen, and shipmates from the Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment forward deployed in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
“We have truly extraordinary shipmates standing the watch across the Middle East,” said the Commandant. “They have a key national security role here on behalf of the U.S. and I am very proud of all they have accomplished.”