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Centcom to Host Maritime Security Force Generation Conference

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U.S. Central Command will host a maritime security force generation conference for the Persian Gulf, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The effort is to ensure freedom of navigation for vessels plying the critical waterway, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, who is in Afghanistan, told reporters traveling with him.

Sailor seated at a console stands watch.
USS Mason
Operations Specialist Seaman Christopher Warrix stands watch aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason while transiting the Strait of Hormuz as part of Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, May 21, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lasheba James
VIRIN: 190521-N-XN169-1114C

The conference comes on the heels of a British initiative to form a European mission in the wake of Iran seizing a British-flagged tanker. According to news reports, Italy, Denmark and France indicated a willingness to join the United Kingdom.

"The British discussion would be a European contribution, … but we would expect that would be done in coordination with the United States, … details to be worked out," the chairman said. "I view this as a European contribution to maritime security that would be complementary — if not integrated — with what the United States is doing."

Marine looks skyward through binoculars.
USS Kearsarge
Marine Corps Cpl. Gary Barker, a low altitude air defense gunner with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, stands watch aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge while transiting the Strait of Hormuz, May 7, 2019.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Tawanya Norwood
VIRIN: 190507-M-YD783-1008

For maritime domain awareness and sharing intelligence, he added, "an integrated effort makes the most sense."

This is not related to the pressure campaign against Iran, but rather is focused on freedom of navigation, the general said. 

This is nothing new for U.S. forces afloat in the Persian Gulf, Dunford noted. The United States and the United Kingdom already have ships in the region and are sharing domain-awareness intelligence, so to an extent, he said, this is already happening. 

Sailor wearing a black vest and a green helmet stands watch on a ship.
USS Sentry
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Wallace Nee stands security watch while the mine countermeasures ship USS Sentry transits the Strait of Hormuz, July 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Pfc. Brendan Nunez
VIRIN: 190711-A-VQ366-1029

The effort will grow as contributions increase and countries decide to escort the ships that have their flags, Dunford said. 

Ships flying the same flags will escort ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz, the chairman said, and there has never been a proposal for the United States to convoy ships through the region.

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