US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has established a new Task Force to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence with maritime operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Commander US NAVCENT, Vice Admiral, Brad Cooper said that US NAVCENT wants to develop and integrate unmanned systems and Artificial Intelligence to enhance its maritime domain awareness and increase its deterrence. According to reports, US NAVCENT area of responsibility is very sensitive and strategically important for the United States due to ongoing rivalry among the Arab nations, Israel and Iran coupled with international trade routes going through the region. Historically, US Navy 5th fleet deals in nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region comprises 21 countries and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen. Due to several incidents of incursion on vessels by the Iranian Navy and attacks on cargo/ oil ships by unknown pirates in the regional waters have sensitized the 5th fleet’s command to conceive a self-reliant fully automated unmanned system to tackle the growing challenges in the maritime affairs.
According to reports, the task force 59 is composed of experienced operators with region-specific expertise, officials from unmanned aerial and subsurface systems of US Navy, task force integration, cyber, AI and space experts. US Navy maritime robotics expert Capt. Michael D. Brasseur has been appointed as first Commander of the task force 59.
In fact, the area of operation of the US NAVCENT is a hub of regional conflicts and rivalries, center stage of covert operations at the sea, encompasses famous routes of arms/drug smuggling and Battlezone of potential future conflicts. The US NAVCENT is developing a centrally coordinated system of unmanned armed aerial drones, unmanned surface vessels and drone submarines for the purpose of aerial and subsurface reconnaissance to locate the enemy activity in the regional waters and necessary retaliatory measures. Some experts suggest that it would be a counterterrorism campaign in the regional waters with particular focus against Iranian activities in the Gulf of Oman and Caspian Sea and Chinese aggressive posture in the western parts of the Indian Ocean during the coming days.
According to reports, UN Navy has been advocating for formation of a new Naval Command exclusively for the Indian Ocean to deter growing Chinese activities including secret submarine missions in the Indian Ocean and some parts of NAVCENT. As said, the role of Task Force 59 will be gradually increased to the whole Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region to counter Chinese threat in future. Presently, the United States faces lack of timely intelligence about secret operations of Iranian Revolutionary guard corps and Chinese Navy mostly being undertaken by underwater vessels or cargo ships in the Arabian sea and Indian Ocean. The TF-59 would not only fulfill the sacristy of intelligence but also pave the path for elimination of threats by using armed drones and unmanned submarines. According to defense experts, credible Naval power supported by strong Air Force will play a decisive role in future US military engagements with China, North Korea and Iran during the coming days and TF-59 would play an important role in future US military interventions in the Arabian Sea and Indo-Pacific region.