MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Coast Guard Capt. Gary Smialek relieved Coast Guard Capt. Daniel J. McClellan as commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia and Commander, Task Force 55.6 in Bahrain, July 17.
The command's mission is to train, equip, deploy and support maritime forces conducting operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) In the Naval Forces Central Command's area of responsibility.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. D. Brian Peterman, commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area, presided over the ceremony. Peterman is the operational commander for all Coast Guard activities within the eastern half of the world ranging from the Rocky Mountains to the Persian Gulf. During the ceremony, Peterman congratulated McClellan and members of the unit on the job they have accomplished during the past year as the Coast Guard responds to missions both overseas and in the United States.
"Our service is being called on everywhere to assist, and we are working hard to demonstrate these capabilities," Peterman said. "The challenge is to make sure we change along with the changing tactics and interest of our enemy."
During his parting remarks, McClellan reflected on the capabilities of the Coast Guard in the region.
"What the Coast Guard brings to the fight are the core competencies that allow the combatant commanders to engage the full spectrum from cooperation with law enforcement support, expertise in port security and marine environmental protection," McClellan said.
McClellan added that these core competencies are all issues of importance to the Gulf nations.
"We need to continue the excellent work that the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and coalition forces in the North Arabian Gulf and surrounding areas have done with coalition navies in training them for the missions of maritime security operations and maritime interdiction," McClellan said.
The Coast Guard works jointly with the Navy and coalition forces in the North Persian Gulf to conduct maritime security operations, which help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq's sea-based infrastructure, which helps to provide the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination.
Smialek reports to U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia following a tour as the Coast Guard liaison and maritime advisor to the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu. He was instrumental in developing long-term theatre security cooperation strategies in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance maritime security.
Smialek graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1980. Over the next 26 years, the Painesville, Ohio, native has been in command of two cutters and served as the executive officer of three others. He also served as Surface Forces commander in New York City for more than 40 Coast Guard and Navy units in the response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
McClellan will report to the National Security Council, Counterterrorism Directorate in August.
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