Vice Adm. Patrick M. Walsh
, Commander, U.S.
Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, was relieved by Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff
in a ceremony Feb. 27 outside 5th Fleet headquarters here.
"From start to finish, Vice Adm. Walsh has commanded this coalition and U.S. Naval forces alike with a steady hand, a hand that was guided in equal measure by a longer view of the strategic part of the world and a deep respect for the history, cultures, peoples and religions here,"
"I share this view, and will work hard in the months and years ahead to carry on in the same spirit."
During his 16 months at the helm of NAVCENT and 5th Fleet, Walsh led the coalition maritime forces in conducting maritime security operations
(MSO) in the region. This mission included denying terrorists use of 5th Fleet's more than 2.5-million square mile area of operation -- which spans the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea -- as a venue for attack or transportation. Walsh was also in charge of military efforts to provide assistance to almost 5,000 Americans who departed Lebanon during a July
2006 conflict there.
NAVCENT acts in concert with other Central Command components, coalition forces and joint task forces to conduct MSO throughout the theater and complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations.
"In a globally connected world that relies on its shared oceans for all manner of resources, keeping the waters of this region safe and stable contributes directly to the security and prosperity of regional nations and the global community," said Cosgriff.
Walsh has already been selected for promotion to admiral and will soon assume the duties of vice chief of naval operations in Washington.
During the ceremony he was presented the Distinguished Service Medal, and in his farewell speech, Walsh noted that he couldn't have succeeded without his Sailors and coalition partners.
"You have made this tour of duty a defining moment in my life because you've taught me that while states have interests, people have friends,"
Walsh said. "Each of you has made a real difference. You should be proud of what you accomplished. You have been here, and you have made a difference in the lives of countless people who rely on us for security and stability of these waters."
Cosgriff, who most recently served as deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, noted this assignment's importance in taking on the responsibility of NAVCENT and 5th Fleet.
"I could not be more honored to be joining such a fine group of professionals," said Cosgriff. "I promise these teams my commitment and my energy. You have accomplished much, but much remains ahead of us.
That is where we are going to go together."
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn Whittenberger, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
/ Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs