US to hold mammoth naval exercise in Pacific
Updated: 2006-02-15 13:49
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military has said it is to hold one of its
biggest naval exercises in the Asia Pacific this summer. The large-scale
operations will involve several carrier strike groups, each of which includes at
least three warships, an attack submarine and a support ship.
Four carriers would be involved in three military maritime exercises -- one
of them touted as the world's largest -- between June and August in the region,
Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Gary Roughead said in Washington.
A US Navy sailor
onboard the USS Decatur in this undated file photo. The US military
has said it is to hold one of its biggest naval exercises in the Asia
Pacific this summer. [AFP]
Two of the exercises are expected to be largely confined to US forces and
held in the Western Pacific while the third involving navies from at least eight
countries, including Australia, Chile, Japan, South Korea and Peru, would occur
near the Hawaiian Islands.
While the war games would boost bilateral and multilateral cooperation and
improve military preparedness, it "also provides a deterrent for anyone who
would wish us ill," Roughead told a forum organized by the US-based Asia
Society, which aims to bridge ties between the two sides of the Pacific.
The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) of the Pentagon, conducted every four
years, said a key goal for the US military in the coming years will be to "shape
the choices of countries at a strategic crossroads."
It has been at least 10 years since four aircraft carriers have operated in
the Pacific Ocean at one time, the Hawaii-based Roughead said, adding that the
increased activity was in line with findings of the QDR released on February 6.
His spokesman Navy Captain Matt Brown said it could be the largest combined
aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific since the Vietnam War.
Aside from the Japan-based Kitty Hawk, the other carriers to be involved in
the exercises are the San Diego-based Ronald Reagan and one more each from the
Pacific and Atlantic fleets.
"I think for an East Coast carrier to be operating in the Pacific -- probably
Vietnam was the last time we had East Coast ships operating up in the Western
Pacific," he explained.
Elaborating on the exercises, Brown said, "As the QDR mentioned, it is
important for us to be focusing on the Pacific, to be working with friends and
allies in the Pacific.
"And we think that the carriers are a capable multimission platform for
gaining familiarisation for forces operating in the Western Pacific."
Citing the massive US-led tsunami relief operations last year in Asia, Brown
said, "Our leaders in Hawaii were able to pick up the phone and call
counterparts in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi and rapidly exchange
information because they knew each other.
"In a situation where there is a disagreement, wouldn't it be nice to pick up
the phone and refer back to rely upon a long term established relationship to
hopefully prevent that conflict," he asked.
Brown also said that the US military hospital ship "Mercy," deployed last
year to help tsunami-hit Indonesia, will leave this spring on a five-month
mission to Southeast Asia.
"We are still working on the locations," he said. "This is follow on to the
tsunami experience because we found that it was important and the people
benefited and is good to do it again," he said. Mercy is one of two American