On September 9, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) established a task force to rapidly integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence with maritime operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations.
The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 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 region is comprised of 21 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.
In a statement, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the NAVCENT, 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said that the new formation, codenamed Task Force 59, will work to develop and integrate unmanned systems and AI in order to enhance the US Navy maritime domain awareness and increase deterrence.
According to Vice Adm. Cooper, the new task force will “rely heavily” on regional and coalition partnerships. The commander didn’t elaborate.
“The launch of Task Force 59 really invigorates our partnerships around this region as we expand our common operating picture,” the commander said.
Task Force 59 will be led by Capt. Michael D. Brasseur, an expert in maritime robotics who served as a founding member of the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative prior to arriving in the Naval Support Activity base in Bahrain.
The formation of the new task force came amid unprecedented tensions with Iran, that was held responsible for a number of recent at-sea attacks in the 5th Fleet area of operations.
Vice Adm. Cooper acknowledged the tensions with Iran. However, he didn’t clarify if Task Force 59 was established to address this situation.
“We’re very aware of Iran’s posture and we’ll be prepared to deal with that appropriately,” The Associated Press quoted Cooper as saying to reports. “I’m going to leave it at that.”
The activities of the new task force may lead to even more tensions between the US and Iran, who stressed on many occasions recently that it will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty or attack on its interests.
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