India formally commenced cooperation with the Bahrain-based multilateral partnership, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). At the India-U.S. 2+2 in April, India had announced that it would join the CMF as an Associate Partner.

However, the modalities of the exact nature of cooperation are being worked out, according to official sources. The modalities will map out how many ships India will deploy and whether they will start by deploying personnel.


About the Combined Maritime Forces-Bahrain (CMF-B)

  • It is the US-backed counterterrorism coalition aimed at protecting international waters. It was established in 2002 with only 12 members.
  • The coalition was formed with like-minded partners to counter the threat of international terrorism and uphold the international rules-based order.
  • The United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) was tasked with leading the then CMF in 2001.
  • The coalition is headquartered in Bahrain.



  • The CMF-B is primarily tasked with ensuring stability and security across 3.2 million square miles of international waters.
  • It acts against illegal non-state actors operating in vital sea lines of communication.
  • Its scope has expanded from just counterterrorism to counter-narcotics, counter-smuggling operations, and suppressing piracy.



  • Participation in the CMF-B is voluntary — it’s mandated neither by a political agreement nor a military one.
  • The coalition has 34 members from all across the world.
  • Recently, India became the associate member of the maritime partnership.
      • Other Asian members (full members) include Pakistan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore and Malaysia.



  • The work of the CMF-B is divided into four combined task forces (CTF) — the CTF 150, CTF 151, CTF 152, and CTF 153.
      • The CTF 150 focuses on ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
      • CTF 151 focuses on counterpiracy.
      • The CTF 152 aims to ensure maritime security in the Persian Gulf.
      • The CTF 153 — which was established in April 2022 — focuses on ensuring maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


India and CMF-B

  • So far, India was conducting similar anti-piracy missions on its own.
    • India has two ships deployed round the clock between the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf for anti-piracy and anti-smuggling operations.
  • With India now joining this grouping, it will operate in coordination with the CMF-B members.
  • As an associate member, India will reportedly not get command of the task forces’ and will also have a limited say in planning operations.



  • Increased maritime regional security —
    • It will strengthen cooperation in regional security in the Western Indian Ocean.
    • It is also in line with the India’s commitment to the collective responsibility of maritime security in the Indian Ocean.
  • India has already worked with CMF in the past —
    • The CMFs CTF 151 has coordinated with Indian and Chinese warships deployed on anti-piracy duties to patrol the Maritime Security Transit Corridor.
  • Widening military diplomacy —
    • Joining the CMF is the latest in a series of multilateral engagements by the Indian Navy as part of India’s widening military diplomacy.