This year’s US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises are “not aimed at China,” but are being conducted to hone skills and technologies that would be “most salient for potential conflict in the years ahead,” US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel Paparo said.
Paparo was discussing, among other subjects, the US military’s commitment to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in a Defense News story published online yesterday.
Started in 1977 and held every two years, RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise and is administered by US forces based at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Photo: AFP / US Navy / Dylan Kinee
This year’s iteration of the multilateral drills — to which China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy was not invited — began on June 29 and runs through Aug. 4.
Asked whether this year’s exercises are concerned with the eventuality that China could invade Taiwan after it completes its military modernization program in 2027, Paparo said the exercises would enhance skills that the international coalition would utilize in dealing with that scenario.
These skills and capabilities include long-range strikes, amphibious operations and fighting as “a more distributed, more survivable, more lethal force that’s harder to target,” he said.
Distributed lethality is increasingly a prevailing tactic in the US military and for many of its allies in the Pacific, he said.
Regarding the modernization of the PLA’s force, Paparo was quoted as saying that “it is quite concerning, the combat power that China is developing over the last few decades, and that includes power-projection capability ... beyond its borders and beyond its shores.”
“RIMPAC itself is not oriented against any particular nation state actor ... but it does demonstrate the solidarity of all its participants to the international rules-based order and the principles of sovereignty, of freedom of the seas, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and against what otherwise would be expansionist activities,” he said.
The 26 participating countries of RIMPAC have brought 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft, nine ground forces and 25,000 personnel to the exercises this year, the US Navy has said.
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