Britain is to lead a joint maritime force in the Gulf to deter piracy, tackle terrorism and disrupt smuggling, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced this week.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Defense (MOD) in London said that from April, Britain will lead the Combined Task Force (CTF150) which covers about 5.18 square km, including the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. The MOD describes the area as a vital artery of world trade.
Fallon said: “We are looking forward to leading this important joint force.This underlines our commitment to working with allies to fight Daesh (IS) and tackle terrorism across the region.”
He said the presence of the British Royal Navy in the Middle East helps keep maritime trade flowing and safeguards Britain’s economy by countering piracy and policing the flow of oil and gas into British ports.
Fallon added that leading CTF150 will see Britain alongside international partners, including those that make up the Combined Maritime Forces. CTF150 vessels will also assist mariners in distress and undertake humanitarian work as required.
Last week, a new defense cooperation arrangement between Qatar and Britain was signed in London. The agreement will enable closer coordination on training and exercises, said the MOD.
Fallon added: “Last week’s attacks in Brussels are a reminder that all of us, the Gulf and Europe, must stand together to defeat Daesh (IS) and disrupt its attack planning. The new agreement will enhance the security of both countries.”