ABU DHABI — From his headquarters in Bahrain, Vice Adm. John Miller surveys one of the world’s most turbulent and dynamic regions. As commander of US Central Command’s naval forces, he oversees the deployment of several standing international task forces and the integration of military forces from up to 40 nations at a time, and is a key player in the relationships between Gulf Cooperation Council nations. And his forces now are at war, conducting combat air operations against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.
Q. The situation in the Middle East has changed dramatically in a year — the Islamic State threat, the Syrian civil war, instability in Yemen, and most recently a regime change in Saudi Arabia. Compared with a year ago, how do those changes look to you?
A. One of the things I would like to highlight is that throughout all of that dynamic change, we continue to have a very stable maritime environment. And that’s important. And I think it’s due largely to the efforts we continue to maintain out here through our various task forces. So Task Force 152, now commanded by a Saudi, allows us to maintain maritime stability within the Arabian Gulf. We continue to have great support from our coalition of partners in Task Force 150, which has been commanded by a number of different coalition partners over the last year.
Obviously, when ISIL came across the border last June it changed the nature of the civil war in Syria and the nature of the battlefield in Iraq. And it changed our activity substantially. Up until that point the carrier strike group efforts were largely in support of operation Enduring Freedom [over Afghanistan]. Shortly after Iraq was invaded by ISIL, we moved the carrier strike group into the gulf and were supporting operations in Iraq and Syria with carrier aircraft ever since. And we’ve been quite successful in that endeavor.