The lineage of TF 51/5 begins well before the 2016 MOU integrating CTF-51 and 5th MEB. The true genesis of TF 51/5 lies in the Expeditionary Strike Group concept. In 2006, USNAVCENT established ESG 5 to serve as the Fifth Fleet Amphibious Force Commander. ESG 5 remained in existence until 2012, when it was redesignated CTF 51, and the Navy determined it would no longer resource a one-star commander for this organization.
In 2010, the Secretary of Defense authorized the establishment of a MEB headquarters to provide command and control of crisis response (CR) forces within the USCENTCOM AOR. Shortly after this, MARCENT established a one-star headquarters in Bahrain, serving as both the MARCENT forward headquarters as well as fulfilling the aforementioned MEB headquarters requirement. This unit was designated as MARCENT (FWD), and in 2013 MARCENT and NAVCENT agreed to “dual-hat” the commanding general of MARCENT (FWD) as the commander of CTF-51. Dual hatting the commander served to provide unity of effort, although the two staff's and functional focuses of the different commands remained separate.
In May 2016 NAVCENT and MARCENT signed an MOU to integrate the staff s of CTF-51 and 5th MEB with the objectives of creating an integrated structure that can:
• Prosecute a single battle concept
• Strengthen partnerships with both Naval and special operation forces
• Enhance interoperability with Joint and regional coalition partners
• Enhance crisis response options for Commander, USCENTCOM
This MOU and process of Naval Integration continued to evolve throughout 2016 as CTF-51 and 5th MEB became increasingly more integrated as the TF 51/5 combined team. The MOU specifically tasked only the integration of the operations and intelligence staff functions; however, by the end of 2016 TF 51/5 had integrated the remaining staff functions, thus creating unity of effort and command across all functional areas. Operating Environment. The current operating environment within CENTCOM and adjoining AORs is dynamic and complex. Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) actively work to counter U.S. interests throughout the region. The ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, combined with unrest in many of the other nations in and around the AOR, create an environment that requires security cooperation, deterrence, and other partnered activities to counter malign forces and protect U.S. national interests. Additionally, this conflict and unrest creates a fertile environment for crisis and contingency response operations that require TF 51/5 – CENTCOM’s expeditionary response force – to be constantly ready to conduct expeditionary operations at sea, from the sea, and ashore.