MINA SALMA PIER, Bahrain (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Terence E. McKnight relieved Rear Adm. Garry E. Hall as commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 during a ceremony aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) Sept. 30.
ESG 2, based out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., is an operational staff, comprised of more than 40 Sailors and Marines. Since February, ESG 2 has been forward deployed to Naval Support Activity Bahrain as Combined Task Force (CTF) 59 and 51.
"I have enjoyed my time as commander of ESG 2," said Hall. "I feel that my staff and I have made a difference in this area of operations."
During Hall's tenure in the Central Command area of responsibility (AOR), he was commander of three different task forces: CTF 158, 59 and 51.
Hall was twice in charge of CTF 158 and recently turned over command to the Royal Australian Navy. CTF 158's primary mission in the North Persian Gulf is maintaining security in and around both the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723. This resolution charges the multinational force with the responsibility and authority to maintain security and stability in the Iraqi territorial waters and also supports the Iraqi government's request for security support.
CTF 158 is also responsible for training Iraqi marines to assume responsibility for security and stability in their territorial waters and both oil terminals in the future.
"It was an amazing experience to work so closely with the coalition forces and to see the progress of training the Iraqis," said Hall. "CTF 158 is a very important mission of providing Iraq the opportunity for self-determination."
CTF 59 is responsible for planning and implementing contingency operations in the region ranging from disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, oil spill response, noncombatant evacuation and foreign consequence management. In the event of a regional crisis, whether it stems from a natural disaster or a conflict, CTF 59 is tasked with contingency management of coordinating resources and manages the plan to assist those requesting aid.
"As CTF 59, we were ready to provide relief assistance from effects of Cyclone Gonu," said Hall. "In addition, we conducted several exercises ranging from humanitarian assistance to oil spill response, which flex our capabilities to see how we can better help our regional partners."
CTF 51 is in charge of expeditionary forces in the CENTCOM AOR. Since February, four different expeditionary strike groups have fallen under Hall's command, to include: Boxer, Bataan, Bonhomme Richard and Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs). These strike groups bring the Marine Expeditionary Units to assist with theater security cooperation and support Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition, the ships play a major role in Maritime Security Operations (MSO).
"It was a pleasure to work with the different strike groups," said Hall. "Being a prior commanding officer of USS Tarawa (LHA 1), I was better prepared to provide assistance to the strike groups."
ESG 2 is the second flag-led staff to be forward deployed to 5th fleet. ESG 3, based out of San Diego is scheduled to relieve them next year.
Hall's next assignment is to be the commandant of the Industrial College of Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. McKnight most recently served as the Joint Force Headquarters deputy commander, and the 85th commandant of Naval District Washington, the oldest continuously operated Navy installation in the nation.
"I look forward to taking command of ESG 2 and continuing the hard work Admiral Hall has done," said McKnight, a native of Norfolk, Va. "I plan to maintain and hope to improve maritime security operations in this region."
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.