Australian Army officer on CTF 150 operations
26 April 2016
For the first time an Australian Army officer is on maritime counter-terrorism and security operations in the Middle East region as a member of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
Major (Maj) Brent Maddock deployed on Operation Manitou as a member of the CTF 150 Australian-Canadian headquarters based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain, in December, 2015.
Operation Manitou is the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.
CTF 150 is under the command of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which is responsible for approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters and some of the world's most important shipping lanes.
As the inaugural CTF 150 Information Operations (IO) Officer, MAJ Maddock said his main role was to implement an enduring information operations support plan.
"My responsibilities also include public affairs and organising the commander's (Commodore (CDRE) Jaimie Hatcher, RAN) key leadership engagements in countries such as Pakistan, the Seychelles, Oman, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania," he said.
"This deployment is significantly different from my previous operational roles, but has been mentally stimulating and personally rewarding.
"I have designed a plan with enduring strategic implications that, in a mature state, utilises assets not normally available in tactical or operational level actions."
CDRE Hatcher said Maj Maddock's information operations expertise and counter-terrorism experience from Iraq and Afghanistan brought a much needed land-environment perspective to the mission.
"All smuggling operations are planned, commenced and are delivered from ashore," he said.
"Maj Maddock's plan has been endorsed by CMF and handed over to our successors for continued development and implementation."
Maj Maddock is working alongside 18 Australian sailors, a Defence civilian, an Australian Federal Police officer and seven Royal Canadian Navy sailors during the five-month operation.
Warships assigned to CTF 150 conduct maritime security patrols in the region to combat terrorism, including intercepting vessels carrying illicit goods such as narcotics (heroin, hashish and amphetamines), weapons and Somali charcoal, all of which fund terrorist activities.
The 31 member nations of CMF are Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, The Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, United States and Yemen.
Maj Maddock said the CMF and CTF 150 had the potential for a strategic impact with an even wider and lasting effect.
"I've seen the opium poppy fields in Afghanistan and understand the heroin production cycle as it goes from the farmer through its transit across Pakistan then the maritime domain into East Africa and subsequently Europe or other nations, such as Australia," he said.
"Smuggling has been a way of life in this region for centuries— whether it be drugs, ivory, people or weapons— and a significant amount of it is tied into funding or fuelling terrorism."
Many shipments of heroin from Afghanistan are unloaded off the shores of East Africa before being taken ashore.
The drugs are then smuggled to Europe and other destinations, including Australia, either overland or through international airports and ports in African countries.
During HMAS Melbourne's last deployment on Operation Manitou in 2015/16 the ship's company seized close to a tonne of heroin in five interceptions.
HMAS Darwin is currently in the region as part of the CMF effort and her crew recently boarded and searched a fishing dhow to discover and seize weapons, off the coast of Oman, bound for Somalia.
The seizure included 1989 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes. On March 20 while under command of CTF 150 the French Ship Provence seized a similar number of weapons.
Although his background is as an Army engineer, Maj Maddock said he brought operational and tactical experience to CTF 150 from his previous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"One of the IO capabilities is civil military cooperation (CIMIC), so my role requires me to understand the legal framework and the network of coalition military and civilian agencies we work with including regional country law enforcement agencies, the Bahrain based Regional Narcotics Information Fusion Cell and the Joint Narcotics Analysis Centre in London," he said.
"Our IO support plan is about synchronising the information related capabilities from various nations so we can leverage off what is available to have a cohesive strategic outcome."
"If IO is executed properly it can have a disproportionate effect."
"In this theatre IO needs to be a whole-of-government approach with regional governments to address this strategic problem and stop terrorism related activities."