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2rimpacThe world’s largest international naval exercise, the Rim of the Pacific – RIMPAC 2014 — has involved military representatives and units from 23 nations who have come together over the last month for a swath of different training and liaison activities. There ar 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

While the vast majority of RIMPAC is naval procedure, part of the naval portfolio includes amphibious operations. along with strictly ship-to-ship naval interactions, this exercise also includes a lot of activities and training involving interactions between domains (sea, air, and land).

Background:

RIMPAC began in 1971 as an annual exercise. Since 1974, the exercise has been scheduled every second year. Canada, the United States and Australia are the only nations to have participated in every exercise since its inception.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2014 was led by U.S. Vice Adm. Kenneth Floyd, commander of the US Third Fleet (C3F), serving as the Combined Task Force (CTF) commander. RIMPAC is designed to enhance cooperation of the combined forces and improve individual war fighting competencies.

“The relationships that are forged at RIMPAC span oceans and years,” said Floyd. “RIMPAC is a unique opportunity for us to get to know each other, to train together, and provide some level of trust when we are out on the high seas together in the future. It is the only exercise that can do so to this scale.”

The USN's decommissioned Newport-class landing ship tank vessel ex-USS Ogden (LPD 5) is hit by a NSM from the Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen during a 'RIMPAC' ship sinking exercise on 10 July 2014. Source: US Navy

The USN’s decommissioned Newport-class landing ship tank vessel ex-USS Ogden (LPD 5) is hit by a NSM from the Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen during a ‘RIMPAC’ ship sinking exercise on 10 July 2014. Source: US Navy

The training syllabus included amphibious operations, laser weapons, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as military medicine, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.

This year’s exercise included units and personnel from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Shifting equipment or forces from one domain to another is usually a tricky and difficult task, requiring specialized equipment, facilities, and training. Not surprisingly, national developments in these sorts of gear often attract significant attention from defense and intelligence analysts.

Navy deploys its first directed energy weapon to the fleet; Laser Weapon System:

Littoral Combat Ships

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 11, 2014) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) passes by USS Independence (LCS 2) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.

USS Independence (LCS 2) Participates in RIMPAC 2014

I’d like to provide a snapshot of a few of the many recent Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) programs added to RIMPAC.

The LCS constitutes the Navy’s second-largest surface combatant ship class-behind only the DDG51s. The U.S. Navy competitive shipbuilding strategy is yielding significant results, with LCS construction costs on a marked and steady decline are showing staggering results.

Few people seem to realize that we have already delivered mission packages that are bringing capability and presence to the Fleet today, such as the LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package. The Navy is working through an extensive test plan – eight total Initial operating capability milestones and the momentum from completion of our Surface Warfare Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) this past Spring and is continuing Navy preparations for Mine countermeasures   and the AntiSubmarine Warfare.

LCSOffering unique combat capabilities not previously addressed by the ‘blue water’ cruisers and destroyers, the LCS could have a dramatic impact on the readiness and global reach of the U.S. Navy. It was developed by engineers and scientists from the Navy, defense industry and academia. It involves commercial fiber solid-state lasers and has already successfully shot down flying targets.

The announcement to deploy the laser comes as a result of the military’s advancement of directed energy weapons. In 2012, the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) downed several drones in tests.

Peter Vietti, spokesperson for the Office of Naval Research, said “laser weapons are significant. They could be used not only as defensive weapons in the traditional sense but also in “Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare.” Lasers have a capability to defeat air threats including cruise missiles, providing a robust ship area defense capability with nearly endless magazines.”

China’s navy accepted the Pentagon’s invitation to participate in RIMPAC:

Peace Ark (in peacetime) Chinese hospital ship. This ship is under the command of the Chinese Navy.

This year is the first year that China has sent a ship to participate in RIMPAC, marking a major development in “military diplomacy.”

RIMPAC 2014 had two new participants this year, Brunei and the People’s Republic of China. Additionally, RIMPAC participants who sent a ship for the first time to participate in RIMPAC 2014 included Colombia, India, Indonesia and Norway.

This year also marked the first time hospital ships participated in RIMPAC. The Chinese hospital ship, Peace Ark, and USNS Mercy (T-AH-19conducted personnel exchanges, military medicine exchanges and medical evacuation and mass casualty training, further highlighting the valuable capability hospital ships bring to the Pacific.

In addition to traditional surface combatants, aircraft carriers, and amphibious ships, navies also rely heavily on a range of other support vessels, such as the hospital ship shown here. This particular ship has 500 beds and 8 surgical theaters for treating a variety of combat and non-combat injuries.

Chinese navy doctor using cupping to treat a Chinese sailor.

Each nation, each navy, and each ship does things a little bit differently. The Peace Ark, a Chinese hospital ship, also employs traditional Chinese medicine to treat various issues. Here a sailor is undergoing treatment for lower back pain.

RIMPAC 2014 marked the first time that Japan led the scenario-driven Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) response portion of the exercise that facilitated training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters as a crisis response adaptive force.

Above, a US Army CH-47 Chinook takes off from Ford Island during a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) response as part of RIMPAC 2014.

Above, a US Army CH-47 Chinook takes off from Ford Island during a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) response as part of RIMPAC 2014.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Yasuki Nakahata served as commander of HA/DR operations.

“Through this exercise, we were able to show a well-coordinated effort similar to the United Nations or a civil/military coordination center and conduct our mission with all pertinence. This is a great step forward for all of Japan and a great impact to an international society,” Nakahata said.

ShangriLa Dialogue | IISS

Gov agreement

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Australian Minister of Defense, Senator David Johnston and Japan Minister of Defense Isunori Onodera held a trilateral discussion regarding mutual security interests during the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.

On 8 July, 2014, Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, signed the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Japan Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology. Under this agreement, Australia’s first cooperative defense science and technology project with Japan is the Marine Hydrodynamics Project (see this article on “Australia and Japan to Ink Submarine Deal“). The main work on this project will be conducted by Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and Japan’s Technical Research and Development Institute. Beyond closer defense cooperation, there are two other points to note:-

a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C firing a Harpoon missile during RIMPAC 2014.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C firing a Harpoon missile during RIMPAC 2014.

One, Australia has now been willingly enlisted as a close ‘ally’ to Japan (see also Remarks by the Japan’s Prime Minister Abe to the Australian Parliament on 8 July 2014). Abe’s speech to the Australian parliament started with his direct reference to address Japan’s World War II past and the pain it caused. Closer Japan-Australia relations may mean Australia is more at risk of siding with Japan against China, given the worsening strategic rivalry between the two Northeast Asian neighbors.

Two, Abe’s theme of continued adherence to international law, in this latest speech continues the themes of his prior speech at the Shangri La Dialogue {(a) uphold the rule of law in international affairs; (b) continue to strengthen US-Japan relationship; and, (c) work to deepen ties with other stakeholders in Asia}.

Abe’s advocacy of rule of law in territorial disputes is very much in line with Australian policy goals and Japan’s attempt to cultivate the bilateral relationship to the level of ‘best mates’. In this case, skilful diplomacy is built upon the recognition of convergence of interests, which is in turn different from a just a simple commonality of interests. Australia and the member states of ASEAN can seek to strengthen relations with Japan (via a convergence of interests), even if they do not share these same counterbalancing goals (via a simple commonality of interests).

Royal Australian Navy Collins class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) passes the historic United States Navy Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) as she makes her way into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.

Royal Australian Navy Collins class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) passes the historic United States Navy Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) as she makes her way into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.

Royal Australian Navy Rear Adm. Simon Cullen, CTF deputy commander, said RIMPAC helped international participants hone the skills that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.”

“This was an opportunity for the participating nations to take advantage of the excellent training infrastructure and ranges that are available in the Hawaiian Islands,” Cullen said. “It enabled individual units to conduct training that they could not otherwise have in their own waters.”

With the theme of “capable, adaptive partners” participating nations at RIMPAC 2014 demonstrated the flexibility of maritime forces to meet regional and global challenges for mutual benefit.

Modern military’s usually want to have the ability to fight in pretty much any environment. However, each environment presents different challenges and advantages to forces operating there. These different advantages and disadvantages may mean that a force may have to operate or move through more than one domain.

RIMPAC 2014: On the Ground:

A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during a training exercise at RIMPAC 14. All photos by Jake Burghart

A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during a training exercise at RIMPAC 14. All photos by Jake Burghart

In the final amphibious landing exercise, the first ground forces to hit the beach were commandos from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The commandos came ashore immediately following theoretical strikes on the beach from fixed-wing aircraft and a run from US Marine Corps attack helicopters.

An overflight from a MH-53, after dropping a Japanese reconnaissance element off shore.

In this exercise, the Japanese commandos were dropped into the sea, along with their boats, from MH-53 helicopters hovering just a few feet over the water. Inserting a force into the water from the air is relatively uncommon, at least compared to other shifts between operational environments, such as air assaults, beach landings, and so on. This kind of insertion is mostly limited to small, mobile units such as reconnaissance, commandos, or special forces.

An Australian soldier on the lookout for any opposing forces, just seconds after the assault from his AAV.

Following the reconnaissance and airstrikes, the first assault wave hits the beach in the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) shown in the background. These vehicles are not particularly heavily armed or armored, trades necessary to make them sufficiently buoyant to be an effective amphibious means of getting troops onto land. They can carry up to 25 armed marines to shore, where they disembark, engage any forces present, and establish a first, tentative perimeter.

An Australian soldier gives information to personnel who have just arrived in the second wave.

The Australian soldier shown above is relaying information to Australian and US personnel freshly arrived in the second assault. Each wave brings more infantry to the beach, supported by their AAVs.

Additional pushes continue further inland to establish a larger perimeter and bring more territory under their control. However, this beachhead is vulnerable to determined counterattack until heavier vehicles, such as tanks and artillery, can be moved ashore to support forces holding the area.

Tongan infantry working through the course at a US urban warfare training facility.

Once a beachhead has been secured, forces can move onshore en masse, allowing for the start of more traditional ground force warfighting activities, such as fighting in cities (known in US militaryspeak as Military Operations in Urban Terrain or MOUT).

While RIMPAC did involve some ground forces, as the main focus of the exercise is naval, most of these exercises were relatively restrained and focused heavily on practicing multilateral operations, rather than simulating major combat operations.

 

 

 Related:

 

Resources:

Naval Exercise, RIMPAC 2014

RIMPAC 2014 | Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

It Has BegunObama’s Pivot to Asia | lisa’s leaks

Navy will deploy its first directed energy weapon to the fleet

Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 – Coast Guard Compass

In Photos: The World’s Largest Naval Exercise, RIMPAC

Singapore Navy

Partnerships Matter: RIMPAC 2014 Gets Underway

RIMPAC Concludes with Enhanced Cooperation among 22 Nations

RIMPAC Exercise Emphasizes

Directed Energy and Fleet Defense: Implications for Naval

RIMPAC 2014: The Evolution of Cohesiveness

Signing of the Agreement between the Government of

Navy.mil The Official Website of the United States Navy

US Navy – USS Independence (LCS 2) Maneuvering

VA: Congressional concerns put Navy’s Littoral Combat

Events – Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare Systems

USS Independence (LCS 2) Maneuvering

MISSION PACKAGE = = – Navsea

US Navy’s LCS Is Unfit for the Asia-Pacific | The Diplomat

Directed Energy

admin | Defense Update: | Page 72

America’s China/RIMPAC mistake

Vietnam to Acquire Japanese Maritime Surveillance Ships

HADR-Challenge

Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) – The

Peace Ark: Onboard China’s Hospital Ship | USNI News

Hydrodynamics of High-Speed Marine Vehicles

ResearchMIT

The Bear And Dragon Goes To Sea Again: Russian And

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