Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah met Tuesday with Vice Admiral John Aquilino (photo), Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command and the US Fifth Fleet.
The meeting reviewed bilateral relations of mutual interest between the two friendly countries and means of enhancing cooperation in the defense and military fields, in addition to means of developing capacities on all fronts. The two sides also reviewed efforts of both countries in combating terrorism and extremism.
Chief of Staff Major General (Pilot) Ghanim bin Shaheen Al Ghanim attended the meeting, according to Qatar News Agency (QNA).
On September 19, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F)/Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) held a change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
Vice Admiral John C. Aquilino relieved Vice Admiral Kevin M. Donegan as Commander of Naval Forces in the Central Command area of responsibility, the U.S. Navy reported.
General Joseph L. Votel, Commander of U.S. Central Command, said in his remarks that during Donegan’s tenure, his contributions had made his team better and had made CENTCOM better, helping make this part of the world a little safer for everyone.
“NAVCENT’s list of accomplishments over the past two years is long and distinguished. In a very dynamic and at times tense area of operations, the team here has performed magnificently time and time again,” said Votel.
Donegan has served as the NAVCENT/C5F/CMF Commander since assuming command in September 2015. On any given day, he led more than 15,000 U.S. and coalition Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians in the conduct of maritime security operations to ensure the free flow of commerce, to build and expand maritime partnerships and deter potential adversaries in one of the world's most critical maritime corridors.
During the ceremony, Donegan was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Aquilino comes to NAVCENT following his most recent tour as the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy. His previous flag assignments include serving as the Director of Strategy and Policy (J5), U.S. Joint Forces Command; deputy director, Joint Force Coordinator (J31), the Joint Staff; Commander of Carrier Strike Group 2; and director of Maritime Operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Aquilino 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.
“Having deployed to this region many times, and recently watched the activities from my chair at the Pentagon, I'm honored to lead this uniquely important forward-deployed fleet,” Aquilino said.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.