KODIAK - The former commanding officer of the Kodiak-based Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley is now the commander of U.S. Coast Guard forces in the Middle East supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. Matthew Bell, who still lives in Kodiak, took over at a ceremony in Bahrain on Monday.
He assumes control of six Coast Guard patrol boats, five U.S. Navy coastal patrol boats, a large support unit in Bahrain, a training team in Iraq, and a Coast Guard forward operating base at the Kuwait Naval Base.
Coast Guard crews in the region are tasked with protecting two Iraqi oil platforms.
Bell's most recent job in the Coast Guard was chief of cutter forces for the Pacific Area. He has held numerous positions during his 22 years of service in the Coast Guard, including commanding officer of the Alex Haley in Kodiak.