By Vice Adm. Nora Tyson
Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet
Commander, Rim of the Pacific’s Combined Task Force
It’s hard to imagine that when RIMPAC began in 1971, only five nations participated – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since then, it’s grown to become the world’s largest international maritime exercise.
This year marks the 25th RIMPAC, and we have more nations participating than ever before. Twenty-six countries, more than 40 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 people will be working together over the next month, demonstrating how “Capable, Adaptive, Partners” help preserve peace and prevent conflict.
It’s great to see so many RIMPAC alumni here. We are thrilled to welcome first-time participants, Denmark, Germany, and Italy, and we also have observers from Cambodia, Israel, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, and Vietnam.
Our economies, our lives, and our mutual interests are more intertwined now than ever. Freedom of movement in the maritime domain is essential to a healthy and prosperous region, and the economic prosperity in the Indo-Asia Pacific region can largely be attributed to the security and stability that exists at sea. During RIMPAC, participating forces train to ensure the ability to deter disruptions to global supply chains and threats to lines of communication and commerce.
The maritime environment is too large for any one nation to protect. Exercises like RIMPAC provide an environment to strengthen regional partnerships and improve multinational interoperability.
RIMPAC also allows us to work together to demonstrate the proficiency and flexibility of maritime forces. We live in the most connected and globalized time in the history of humankind. As we’ve seen in the past, during disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 tsunami that ravaged Japan, Typhoon Yolanda that pummeled the Philippines in 2013, or Hurricane Katrina which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, and I could go on and on, nations across the world band together to help our fellow man.
Through multinational exercises, like RIMPAC, we build relationships that allow us to work together more effectively. Humanitarian assistance/disaster relief is just one area we will be exercising during RIMPAC. We will also conduct maritime security operations, complex warfighting scenarios, amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and diving and salvage operations.
The Department of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet yearlong initiative will also play a major role in RIMPAC. The initiative highlights global operations using energy conservation measures and alternative fuel blends to demonstrate how optimizing energy use increases resiliency and operational readiness. During RIMPAC, almost all participating units will operate using an approved alternate-fuel blend.
We have some exciting firsts this RIMPAC, including a submarine rescue exercise and flexing the command and control structure for several at-sea events. Maritime forces in the Southern California operating area will conduct amphibious operations, a U.S. Navy littoral combat ship will conduct a harpoon missile shoot, and the Trident Warrior experimentation series will highlight fleet innovation.
We are thrilled to be getting started, and when the 25th RIMPAC concludes next month, we will have collectively improved our ability to operate alongside our partners, build professional relationships that will last throughout our careers, and will remember the experience for a lifetime.
Editor’s notes: For more information on RIMPAC 2016, visit the following links:
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