New Delhi: The United States of America has invited India to place a naval officer in the Combined Maritime Forces or CMF in Bahrain. This was after discussions on Friday between the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin during the 2 plus 2 dialogue.
While the decision to join the 38-nation CMF in Bahrain was agreed upon at an earlier 2 Plus 2 meeting last year, the decision to have an Indian naval liaison officer there was taken yesterday. The officer is likely to be a commander or captain, the equivalent of lieutenant-colonel or colonel. This is something that India and the USA were working on and a naval officer there would be of enormous help, a senior Defence official said.
First, it would ensure that India would be in the loop, when it came to what would happen in the US Central Command, which extends to Pakistan. It would make it easier to “keep an eye” on Islamabad. Secondly, it would help India to improve its military/strategic ties with Gulf countries. India is already an associate partner of the CMF and responsible for the maritime security of the western Indian Ocean. Participation in the operational affairs of the CMF is a major step for India; India had been looking to have an officer in Bahrain for quite a while.
The CMF is headed by a vice admiral of the US Navy and his deputy is usually a commodore of the Royal Navy. The 38 countries include Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Yemen, NATO countries like Canada, Germany, Greece and Italy and also, countries like Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Pakistan has been part of the CMF for a long while. Its task forces are to provide security in the area, and also, to fight piracy and provide training. It focuses on a large area: about 3.2 million square miles.