The International Maritime Security Construct would look more appropriate in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq than at the Navy Support Activity in Bahrain.
While it is air conditioned and has a floor, it is in a tent that U.S. service members around the world would relate to.
The tent is the headquarters of Operation Sentinel – an effort to ensure the security and safe transit of ships through the Persian Gulf.
The headquarters is in a tent because of how quickly the international unit formed and because of the need to quickly expand the space as more nations join the effort.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with some members of the headquarters of the construct and the crew of the USS Sirocco – a Navy patrol boat that does the tough work on the high seas to ensure maritime safety.
The tent is right outside the headquarters for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, and while American service members form the nucleus around which the unit has grown, it is a truly international organization.
"More than 60 percent of the unit is not American," Army Col. John Conklin, the construct's chief of staff. "There are seven nations involved with the effort now and more are joining."
The IMSC – as it is universally called -- began in July after attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf aimed at restricting passage of oil and natural gas through the strategic waterway.
More than 17,000 ships per year transit through the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait carrying oil and natural gas. Closing that waterway would have international repercussions – affecting economies from the United Kingdom to Japan and all points in between.
The seven nations involved now are Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Conklin said Qatar and Kuwait will soon join the construct, and Canada and some European countries have also expressed interest in the effort.
Conklin said the operation has four sentry ships in crucial watch points in the Persian Gulf. "These are generally destroyers or large frigates," he said.