Naval Forces Central Command gets one of Navy's top honors
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 13, 2015
MANAMA, Bahrain — Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert presented U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, whose 5th Fleet has been instrumental in the fight against the Islamic State, with one of the Navy’s top honors Monday.
During an all-hands call here, Greenert highlighted some of 5th Fleet’s exploits in recent years, including its support of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the current air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Many of those sorties are flown from ships in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, part of the U.S. Central Command.
“Over the last five, six, seven years, this command has been the … means to make sure the Strait of Hormuz is open and that there’s stability out here in the (Persian) Gulf,” Greenert said in presenting the Navy Unit Commendation to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility covers an area of some 2.5 million square miles, including the Persian Gulf. Naval operations in the 5th Fleet aim to ensure the free movement of ships throughout the region, which includes the strait, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.
The award is presented for outstanding heroism in action against an enemy that does not justify the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation.
The award citation said the 5th Fleet also helped reduce piracy against merchant vessels by 92 percent and disrupted more than $1 billion in terrorist financing by cutting the trafficking of illicit drugs.
Vice Adm. John Miller, the commander of 5th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said knowing the hard work his personnel put in on a daily basis in the region, he “could not be prouder of the many members of our Navy and Marine Corps 5th Fleet family who earned this recognition.”
During the all-hands call, Greenert was asked about a number of issues regarding sailors’ welfare, including deployment length.
“The next carrier group that comes out here is scheduled for a seven-month deployment” he said. The USS Carl Vinson recently ended a 10-month deployment. Extended deployments were the result of budget cuts as part of sequestration.
Sailors also asked about whether pending changes to the physical fitness assessment will make it more strenuous for sailors.
“I don’t know that it’ll get more strenuous,” Greenert said. “But it should be based upon, if you can’t pass it, you ought to know why you can’t do it and why that strength level is necessary for your job.”
This was Greenert’s last visit to Bahrain as chief of naval operations, as he is set to retire in September.