18 May 2018
A senior New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officer will help command a multinational maritime security operation in the Middle East over the next three months.
Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Richard Walker has been appointed Deputy Commander of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), one of three task forces that comprise the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
The CMF, which is based in Bahrain, is a 32-nation naval partnership to combat terrorism, prevent piracy, encourage regional cooperation and promote a safe maritime environment.
It conducts maritime security operations across about 8.2 million square kilometres of international water, which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the appointment was significant for NZDF and for New Zealand.
“It recognises our commitment to maintaining global security and the professionalism and skill of our people,” Major General Gall said.
“Maritime security has always been important for New Zealand because as an island-nation we rely heavily on shipping for our international trade.”
CTF 150’s specific mission is to disrupt terrorist organisations and their illegal activities across the area.
Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the Commander of CTF 150, said it was “a huge privilege” to have Captain Walker as the Deputy Commander of the task force.
“The presence of an NZDF officer in the staff underpins the strength of the multinational naval partnership that exists within CMF to promote security, stability and prosperity in the region,” he said.
The Royal Navy, which has command of CTF150, had offered the position of Deputy Commander to the NZDF.
Captain Walker said he was looking forward to representing New Zealand in CTF150.
“To operate with partner nations provides the NZDF an opportunity to enhance our relationships and ability to operate with them. At a personal level, this is an excellent opportunity for professional development.”
The NZDF has been part of the CMF for years and has contributed personnel, vessels and aircraft to its operations. In 2011, senior NZDF officer Captain Jim Gilmour (now Commodore) took command of Combined Task Force 151, whose mission is to deter and disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capability to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.