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Italians Assume Command of CTF 152

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 – Italian Navy Rear Adm. Salvatore Ruzittu relieved U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ray Spicer as commander of Combined Task Force 152 today, marking the first time that all three of the major maritime task forces in the region have been commanded by officers from nations other than the U.S. or United Kingdom.

The change of command also marks the first time a non-U.S. officer has commanded CTF 152, which conducts maritime security operations in the central and southern Arabian Gulf.

Rear Adm. Shahid Iqbal of the Pakistan Navy and Commodore Peter Lockwood of the Royal Australian Navy currently command the other two major task forces, CTF 150, which operates outside the Gulf, and CTF 158, which operates in the North Arabian Gulf, respectively.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Miller, deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, emphasized the importance of having leaders from such a broad coalition.

"We simply cannot effectively conduct maritime security operations without a fully integrated coalition. Coalition participation in maritime security operations is one of the keys to success throughout the region," Miller said.

Spicer highlighted the importance of maritime partnerships.

"No country can do this mission alone. Our common national goals in this challenging area of the world will be achieved only through the combined operations of coalition forces," Spicer said.

Ruzittu is confident that the Italians are ready to command CTF 152.

"We are fully capable for this challenge, and we'll do our best in order to lead all units which are going to operate with us, accomplishing the coalition force maritime component aims and objectives," Ruzittu said.

Coalition forces conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region.

(Based on a news release from Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs Office.)

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