Donegan takes command of 5th Fleet
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 3, 2015
MANAMA, Bahrain — Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan assumed command on Thursday of 5th Fleet, relieving Vice Adm. John W. Miller, who has overseen the Navy’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Donegan is familiar with the region, as he previously served as the director of operations for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East. Fifth Fleet is formally known as U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
Donegan said assuming command here was like a homecoming after serving three years in the Pentagon, including as the acting deputy chief of naval operations for operations plans and strategy.
“I’m back in the operational fleet here getting to work side by side with our forward deployed sailors and Marines,” Donegan said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here.”
In July, Miller received the Navy Unit Commendation Medal on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command from the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Under Miller’s three-year watch, 5th Fleet supported airstrikes against the Islamic State, as well as anti-piracy operations and countermine measures.
“To all of you here tonight that have been a part of these efforts, you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished,” Miller said.
During the ceremony, Miller, who is retiring, received the Distinguished Service Medal for his accomplishments while leading 5th Fleet. Last week, Miller received the Bahrain Medal of the First Class from the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for his efforts in maintaining stability in the region.
The 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility covers some 2.5 million square miles, including the strategically important and conflict-prone Persian Gulf. Naval operations in the 5th Fleet aim to ensure the free movement of ships throughout the region, which includes the Strait of Hormuz, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.
The area also serves as the central hub for aircraft carriers conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Miller reflected on some of his experiences in command of 5th Fleet “Together we’ve had victories and setbacks,” Miller said. “We’ve experienced tremendous joy and, on occasion, unspeakable sadness. But never have we lost our focus on our mission to promote maritime security or our quest for maritime stability.”