Capable, adaptive partners converge for RIMPAC 2020

Capable, adaptive partners converge for RIMPAC 2020

FORUM Staff

The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise kicked off in mid-August 2020 in waters around the Hawaiian islands with this year’s theme of “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”

“The growing security environment in the Pacific demands now more than ever that like-minded nations join forces to build trust and collective strength to ensure a continuing free and open Pacific for all nations,” Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT), wrote on the USPACFLT website. “It is my honor to be standing side-by-side with capable, adaptive partners hosting Rim of the Pacific 2020 exercise.”

This year’s iteration was developed as an at-sea-only exercise to ensure the safety of participating military forces and the public in Hawaii amid the coronavirus pandemic. The modified RIMPAC will include 22 ships, one submarine, multiple aircraft and approximately 5,300 personnel from Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. (Pictured: Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungmugong Yi Sun-Sin, Royal Australian Navy ship Arunta and U.S. Navy fleet replenishment oiler Henry J. Kaiser transit the Pacific Ocean during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2020.)

“Although not all nations invited were able to participate due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that began in the region, I am confident that all RIMPAC participants are committed to applying lessons learned from this year’s exercise and work with all like-minded nations throughout the year,” Aquilino said.

Originally, RIMPAC 2020 was to include up to 30 countries and 25,000 personnel, U.S. 3rd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Scott Conn said in a kickoff message. Conn said he’s confident RIMPAC will still meet its goal of building interoperability and trust among Pacific militaries. He added that it was important to bring as many navies together as possible as the region faces challenges ranging from fisheries management and law enforcement to territorial disputes with the People’s Republic of China.

“While we have the ability to surge ships and people, we cannot surge trust. In times of crisis — whether man-made or natural disasters — the time to establish interoperability and forge key relationships is not in the midst of crisis response,” Conn said. “We want to have those personal relationships and trust already well established. That is why we continue to conduct RIMPAC exercises every two years. That is why we made the calculated decision to proceed with RIMPAC 2020, to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that our navies have the resolve to come together in times of crisis.”

RIMPAC 2020 training events include live gunnery and missile firings, a sinking exercise, multinational anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air defense, replenishment at sea, maneuvering and maritime interdiction operations where all nations function as interoperable task forces.

The RIMPAC series began in 1971, and 2020 marks the 27th iteration. This year’s exercise runs August 17-31.

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