MANAMA, Bahrain –
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) held a hybrid change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain Aug. 19.
Due to the global health pandemic, the ceremony involved virtual and in person participation to mitigate against COVID-19.
Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo relieved Vice Adm. Jim Malloy as commander of NAVCENT, 5th Fleet and CMF.
The presiding officer, General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), highlighted the regional challenges during Malloy’s tenure.
"Jim epitomizes the very definition of what a modern, senior three-star fighting commander should look like. He knows what right looks like, and turns that vision into reality without fail,” said McKenzie in a pre-recorded video. “Under his command, the 5th Fleet demonstrated an exceptional ability to respond to operational threats and re-established [itself] as a true ‘fighting fleet,’ prepared for major combat operations on short notice…and while I certainly hope we don’t have to, I am completely confident in the posture and resilience of our naval forces, and our ability to generate combat power whenever and wherever it is needed.”
Since May 2019, Iran has increased its aggressive and nefarious activities to include harassment of, attacks on and seizures of ships, mining ships, shooting down a U.S. unmanned vehicle, and unsafe and unprofessional encounters through either direct provocation or poor seamanship.
Malloy highlighted the accomplishments of the NAVCENT, 5th Fleet, CMF and Task Force Sentinel teams, noting the importance of regional and coalition partners to ensuring maritime security.
“The key to all our successes have been common interests, commitment to rule of law, collaborative endeavors, and professionalism – a great contrast to those who coerce, intimidate, obfuscate and who would drag this region into conflict for their own ends,” said Malloy.
Malloy, who assumed command Dec. 2018, led the three organizations, made up of thousands of service members, civilians and 33 partner nations, through uncertain and complex challenges in the region. Malloy also oversaw the establishment of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and its operational arm, Task Force Sentinel.
“On any given day, alongside our partners, our forces are promoting maritime security and providing reassurance to the critical shipping industry - protecting key trade routes through which 20% of the world’s commerce passes; stopping illicit trafficking in drugs or charcoal from funding terrorist organizations; providing rapid response in support of manmade and natural disasters; and projecting combat power from the sea in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel,” said Malloy.
U.S. 5th Fleet is anchored by its host nation of Bahrain, and booked-ended with partner-navies of Egypt to the west and Pakistan to the east.
“Don’t let the fact that we’re meeting virtually today fool you: as individuals, navies and nations, we are interconnected more now than we have ever been,” said Malloy. “The partnerships that make NAVCENT work set the gold standard for naval cooperation and maritime security operations around the globe. Our trusted partnerships are stronger and more important than ever!”
Paparo, who most recently served as the Director of Operations for U.S. Central Command, says joining the NAVCENT, 5th Fleet and CMF team is “the honor of a lifetime.”
“Vice Adm. Jim Malloy’s leadership has been inspiring. The strategic environment continues to be marked by complexity with determined adversaries and competitors. The mission demands teamwork that the coalition and joint force has fostered - by Gen. McKenzie, Vice Adm. Malloy, our fellow partners and joint commands, and all those who have come before us,” said Paparo. “Partnership and teamwork will continue to be our asymmetric advantage.”
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.