Commander, Task Force 56 Welcomes New Commander

By Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | July 11, 2024

MANAMA, Bahrain --

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Force (TF) 56 welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, July 8.

Capt. Brian Reitter relieved Capt. Oliver Herion, who assumed command of TF 56 in April 2023.

The task force provides oversight for all expeditionary combat forces specializing in explosive ordnance disposal, naval coastal warfare, naval construction, expeditionary intelligence and expeditionary logistics support. Under Herion’s leadership, TF 56 personnel participated in more than 10 joint and combined training exercises with regional partners, including Resolute Union 23, Infinite Defender 24, and Eager Lion 24, which expanded and enhanced relationships with regional partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Vice Adm. George Wikoff, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, noted how Herion not only excelled in exercises, but ensured his task force was ready for real-world events. In April 2023, during a deteriorating security crisis in Sudan, he established a task element to support the military-assisted departure of American citizens and designated personnel fleeing violence from warring factions. This task element helped move more than 530 American citizens and personnel from more than 17 nations to safety.

“Commodore Herion, you’ve set the bar high for all those who come after you,” said Wikoff. “You stood the watch in active war zones, in forward areas, and in times of uncertainty. There are people all over the world literally alive today because of your efforts in those locations.”

While commanding TF 56, Herion also stood up Combined Maritime Force’s Combined Task Force 154, focused on maritime security enhancement training. He relinquished command of CTF 154 last November. 

In his remarks, Herion gave all the credit to the men and women he served alongside.

“You operated safely and effectively across a wide spectrum of conflict,” Herion said. “Whether that work is administrative, tactical or technical, every Sailor and soldier has an important role. Your capabilities ensure our collective sum is greater than our individual parts.”

His tour complete, Herion retires from the U.S. Navy after 41 years of service.

A career EOD officer, Reitter assumes command of TF 56 following a tour as Deputy Commander of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Two based in Little Creek, Virginia.

“Task Force 56 teammates, you are true professionals and I am consistently impressed by the work you do on daily basis,” said Capt. Brian Reitter, incoming commander of TF 56. “Thank you for your flexibility, resilience and grit shown throughout the turnover process.”

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water space and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al-Mandeb.