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In 1949, the U.S. Navy founded the Middle East Force (MEF), marking the transition of the Navy’s presence in the Arabian Gulf from periodic to a more enduring one, committed to its partners in the region.


Over the next two decades, the U.S. Navy increased its naval presence and participation in the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea, as dangers to peace and stability in the region grew.


In 1971, the MEF established a base in Bahrain, and in 1983, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) was formed from U.S. Central Command, to further enhance U.S. commitment to regional security.


Twelve years later, U.S. 5th Fleet (5th Fleet) was created and assigned operational control of the expanded naval forces being deployed rotationally from the Pacific and Atlantic fleets to the region. NAVCENT and 5th Fleet were then placed under the command of a single three-star flag officer, and the base was officially named Naval Support Activity Bahrain.


In 2002, the NAVCENT/5th Fleet Commander was charged with a 3rd role, leading the newly formed Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a coalition of regional and international partners to uphold the international rules-based order and promote prosperity by providing maritime security and stability against illicit non-state actors across regional shipping lanes.


Today, CMF consists of 44 nations supporting three task forces focused on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security. NAVCENT/5th Fleet consists of eight task forces focused on strike, contingency response, mine warfare, surface, expeditionary combat, unmanned systems, and logistics to support naval operations that ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, which connects the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.



Click Here for more about the creation of Central Command and NAVCENT