MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F)/Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) held a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), in port here Sept. 3.
Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan relieved Vice Adm. John W. Miller as commander of naval forces in the central command area of responsibility.
Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in his remarks that during Miller's tenure, the region has seen tremendous change and new challenges, including the start of combat operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
"Over the past several years, we've thrown a significant number of challenges his way, and he took each challenge in stride and he made sure that the right things were done to manage the various crises and to help move this strategically important region into the direction of increased stability and security," said Austin.
Turning to Miller, he said, "You have done an absolutely amazing job."
Miller assumed command in May 2012. On any given day, he led more than 15,000 U.S. and coalition Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians ensuring maritime security and stability throughout 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean, and in 20 countries.
"The contributions made by the U.S. and our coalition partners have been vital to security and stability in this region and the world," said Miller. "Our presence here as we operate forward keeping the sea lanes open and safe is essential not only for the global economy, but also for the goods and services vital to our regional partners here in the Middle East."
During the ceremony, Miller was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Donegan comes to NAVCENT following his most recent tour as the acting deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy. His previous flag assignments include serving as the director of operations for U.S. Central Command and director of Strategy and Policy on the Navy staff. He also commanded Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), and commanded the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). He also served at the Pentagon as director of the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review, and director of Warfare Integration.
Donegan reiterated the United States' commitment to maritime security in the region along with pledging to strengthen existing relationships and foster new partnerships throughout the region.
"Enhancing maritime security in the region and strengthening relationships will be front and center on my agenda," Donegan said.
He then praised the Sailors serving in the U.S. 5th Fleet, saying, "I fully appreciate the sacrifices our Sailors and their families make serving so far from home", and that he is, "humbled by the opportunity to join such a talented team of leaders and professionals."
"For our friends and partners here in the region, our presence here far from home is a constant and visible assurance that our country takes its commitments seriously and that we are here to stay," said Donegan.
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