Home Americas US Navy’s 5th Fleet sets up unmanned systems task force

US Navy’s 5th Fleet sets up unmanned systems task force

UxS IBP unmanned systems drill
Illustration: US Navy file photo of an MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft system over USS Coronado (LCS 4) during the Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21 exercise.

The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has established a one-of-a-kind task force that will be tasked with rapidly integrating unmanned systems and artificial intelligence with maritime operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations.

Inaugurated on September 9, Task Force 59 is the first US Navy task force of its kind and leverages the US 5th Fleet region’s unique geography, climate, and strategic importance.

“The bottom line on why we’re doing this is so that we can develop and integrate unmanned systems and AI as a means to do two things,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “One, enhance our maritime domain awareness, and two, increase deterrence.”

Cooper also stated the task force would rely heavily on regional and coalition partnerships.

“The launch of Task Force 59 really invigorates our partnerships around this region as we expand our common operating picture.”

Cooper appointed Capt. Michael D. Brasseur, an expert in maritime robotics, as Task Force 59’s first commodore during a commissioning ceremony onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Thursday. Brasseur served as a founding member of the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative prior to arriving in Bahrain.

“It’s an honor to be named commander of this historic and innovative task force,” said Brasseur. “As we continue to adapt and implement cutting edge technology, I fully expect our talented team will enrich and enhance the 5th Fleet mission.”

Brasseur’s staff includes experienced operators with region-specific expertise, including directors for unmanned systems; unmanned exercises; task force integration; cyber, AI and space; and partnership opportunities.

In the coming weeks, the task force aims to build trust and confidence in human-machine teaming through a series of operations at sea. International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 22, slated for next year, will provide NAVCENT a real-world opportunity to demonstrate the resiliency and scalability of human-machine teaming technologies.

IMX-22 will include more than 60 nations and international organizations and features the extensive use of unmanned systems in various operational scenarios designed to challenge the technology in a dynamic environment and ultimately enhance partner capabilities through manned and unmanned teaming.