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02/05/22: New CENTCOM Commander Visits U.S. Navy Unmanned Systems Hub in Bahrain

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain – The new commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) visited U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, April 29, to see firsthand how the Navy is integrating unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into fleet operations in the Middle East.

During his first visit to Bahrain since assuming command of CENTCOM on April 1, U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla met with Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. Kurilla was also briefed by staff from NAVCENT’s Task Force 59 on various advanced unmanned surface vessels, aerial platforms, and artificial intelligence systems.

NAVCENT established Task Force 59 in September 2021. Since its launch, it has introduced a suite of new unmanned systems based at operational hubs in Bahrain and Aqaba, Jordan. The task force partners with industry and international forces for operational evaluation and employment.

Task Force 59 recently conducted the largest unmanned maritime training event in the world. More than 80 unmanned systems from 10 nations participated in International Maritime Exercise 2022 in February.

The Middle East region's unique geography, climate, and strategic importance offer an ideal environment for unmanned innovation. The area hosts the world's largest standing maritime partnership and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

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