Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia holds change of command

Coast Guard Capt. Willie Carmichael, right, oncoming commanding officer of Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) and Capt. Curtiss Potter, left, outgoing commanding officer stand at attention during a change of command ceremony held onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain July 9, 2020.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dawson Roth)

Coast Guard Capt. Willie Carmichael, right, and Capt. Curtiss Potter, left,  stand at attention during a change of command ceremony held onboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain July 9, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dawson Roth)

MANAMA, Bahrain — U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) held a change of command ceremony onboard U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain, July 9.

Capt. Willie L. Carmichael relieved Capt. Curtiss C. Potter as commander of PATFORSWA in a ceremony presided over by Vice Adm. Steven D. Poulin, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander.

Poulin presided over the event by video teleconference to accommodate COVID-19 mitigation policies. Vice Adm. James J. Malloy, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, was also present at the ceremony.

“The men and women of PATFORSWA are the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence. During these historical times it is important, now more than ever, that we maintain maritime security operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” said Poulin. “These members are pushing forward into the unknown to protect American interests in the region. I’m grateful to Capt. Potter for his steadfast leadership and wise counsel over the past 12 months and know that Capt. Carmichael will build upon the unit’s accomplishments in the coming year,” he added.

Potter congratulated his staff and commended them for their professionalism during periods of heightened tension in the region. “I could not have hand-picked a better, more capable crew. The amazingly professional and innovative women and men of PATFORSWA have met every challenge with skill and commitment. They overcame every ‘first-ever,’ ‘never-before,’ and ‘first-of,’ including a combat deployment of the entire command and the global SARS-COV-2 pandemic that strained every established process or procedure. Command of PATFORSWA has been the highlight of my career and I am incredibly proud to have served alongside these U.S. Coast Guard warfighters,” said Potter.

Carmichael takes command of PATFORSWA during the command’s transition from the aging 110-foot Island-Class cutters currently operating in the Arabian Gulf to six new 154-foot Sentinel Class-cutters.

“PATFORSWA leads U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Group 55.1 and plays a key role in maritime security, maritime infrastructure protection, theater security cooperation, and counter-smuggling operations,” said Carmichael.

PATFORSWA is composed of six cutters, shoreside support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit also supports other U.S. Coast Guard deployable specialized forces operating throughout the CENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR).

Since the establishment of PATFORSWA in 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard’s unique skillset has been in high demand within the CENTCOM AOR, where counter-smuggling and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations have proven vital to ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce.

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