27 Jul 22. Rimpac’s Got Impact. The 2022 Rim of the Pacific exercise — Rimpac, for short — is underway in and around Hawaii and Southern California. Rimpac is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, with more than two dozen nations participating to strengthen their collective forces and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
38 Surface Ships
30+ Unmanned Systems
This year’s theme is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” and participants are exercising a wide range of capabilities, demonstrating the flexibility of maritime forces.
2022 marks the 28th edition of Rimpac, a biennial event first conducted in 1971. (Source: US DoD)
27 Jul 22. Australia, Tonga pair up for urban warfare training. Personnel from the two nations have combined to hone close combat skills in an urban warfare environment.
Australian and Tongan infantry have conducted joint urban close combat training at the United States Marine Corps Training Area Bellows as part of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.
The forces were tasked with seizing control of a fictional village captured by an adversary, supported by counterparts from the United States, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
“Australian and Tongan teams have been training together for almost two months now. Their camaraderie and cohesiveness really shows on the battlefield in an exercise like this,” Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tutton said.
“Urban close combat is perhaps the most difficult and dynamic infantry operating environment. It’s a three-dimensional battlespace, 360 degrees and operating 24/7.
“In any one moment in time, our members will be providing humanitarian assistance, conducting peacekeeping operations and fighting a lethal battle all within the same day. It’s complex; your ethical decision making is really tested.”
The Tongan forces were led by HMAF Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Filise Siale.
“The boys went through clear and secure tasks throughout a complex urban area for the first time with live enemies and role players. The sound effects made the environment more confusing and interesting,” Lieutenant Siale said.
“It was a great experience for the boys, which adds to their individual skills and on the other hand, shows where there is room for improvement.”
The exercise followed a military transport drill, where forces from Australia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and United States embarked on HMAS Canberra, before disembarking aboard United States Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.
Personnel were called in by a team of Australian Army and United States Marine Corps reconnaissance soldiers.
The reconnaissance team led the multinational force through the jungle toward the village, after which they secured the area for the close combat training excise between Australian and Tongan forces.
This latest drill follows Exercise Air Shark, where personnel from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR) took part in Exercise Air Shark, which tested force readiness.
The Bravo Company platoon was deployed from Gallipoli Barracks, travelling in three protected mobility vehicles and a G-wagon before arriving at RAAF Base Amberley.
Upon arrival, the troops loaded all equipment onto a C-17A Globemaster transport aircraft bound for Toowoomba. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Jul 22. An MQ-9B SeaGuardian® Unmanned Aircraft System from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is under contract with the U.S. Navy to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 exercise. RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, started in late June and continues until early August in Hawaii and Southern California operations areas.
GA-ASI’s SeaGuardian is a maritime derivative of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian® and remains the first UAS that offers multi-domain Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (ISR&T) as an internal payload that can search the ocean surface and the depths in support of Fleet Operations. The UAS is also providing real-time ISR data feeds to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Command Center using Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) parametrics and full-motion video to the watch floor and intelligence centers for real-time, dynamic tasking.
As of July 25, 2022, 11 flights totaling over 80 hours have been flown by SeaGuardian showcasing all operational payloads, which includes Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT), Automatic Identification System (AIS), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) monitor and control of sonobuoys, GA-ASI developed Lynx® Multi-mode Maritime Radar, high-definition Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) imaging system and Link 16.
SeaGuardian’s multi-domain capabilities allows it to flex from mission to mission and pass real-time sensor data directly to the Fleet through Link 16 and satellite feeds to the shore-based command and intelligence centers. During RIMPAC, the MQ-9B has effectively passed ISR&T information to various surface and air units, such as the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Guided Missile Destroyers, Littoral Combat Ships, frigates, patrol boats, P-8s, P-3s and a litany of other U.S. and foreign units taking part in the exercise.
25 Jul 22. Pentagon reviews removing Morocco as host of largest military exercise in Africa. The Defense Department is looking at alternative locations for the largest military exercise in Africa amid Senate pressure to bump Morocco from its position as an annual host for the drills.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, has led the charge against having Morocco host the African Lion exercise to push back against its control of the disputed Western Sahara.
“For more than five decades, the Sahrawi people have been subjected to repeated broken promises and vicious attacks by the Moroccan government,” Inhofe said last week at a confirmation hearing for the nominees to lead Africa Command and Special Operations Command.
“I have pushed [the Defense Department] to look at alternative locations for the annual African Lion military exercise that’s been hosted in Morocco previously,” Inhofe added. “I’m pleased that [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] is in agreement with me on this issue.”
Inhofe’s office told Defense News he secured a commitment from Austin in a private meeting to look at alternative locations for the annual exercise, which the United States and 10 partner countries conduct jointly in Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.
The report accompanying the Senate’s version of the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act also directs Austin to “develop a plan to rotate the hosting arrangements and locations” of all multilateral exercises, including African Lion, within AFRICOM’s purview and submit a report by December.
Lt. Gen. Michael Langley and Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton, the nominees to head AFRICOM and SOCOM respectively, told Inhofe during their confirmation hearing they agreed with finding alternative locations for the African Lion exercises.
“I will follow up on this serious issue,” said Langley. “I know the Department of Defense has been looking at it. I think it’s time to see if Morocco’s making progress.”
Inhofe has long been critical of Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara, which pits Rabat against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front — a Sahrawi independence movement.
He called it “shocking and deeply disappointing” when former President Donald Trump upended decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara at the same time Morocco signed onto the Abraham Accords normalizing ties with Israel. President Joe Biden has left Trump’s policy intact.
Former Moroccan prime minister Saadeddine Othmani tweeted last year the African Lion exercise, which has been held for nearly two decades, “marks the consecration of American recognition of the Moroccan Sahara.” Othamni tweeted at the time that part of the 2021 drills would be held in the Western Sahara, but deleted the tweet after AFRICOM denied the exercise would be held in the disputed territory.
After that, the Senate added a provision to the 2022 NDAA banning U.S. forces from participating in multilateral exercises hosted in Morocco unless the defense secretary certifies the country is “committed to seeking a mutually acceptable political solution in the Western Sahara.”
Austin did not make that certification for this year’s exercises, which took place last month, and instead submitted a national security waiver permissible under the 2022 NDAA to allow the drills to proceed.
“U.S. Africa Command continues to explore alternatives to further diversify the locations of multilateral exercises and continues to consult closely with the Department of Defense and Department of State to ensure full compliance with future requirements as directed by the NDAA,” a Defense Department spokesman told Defense News in a statement.
Neither the Senate nor House versions of the 2023 NDAA contain the language banning Morocco from hosting U.S.-led exercises that Congress added to last year’s bill. However, the Senate report accompanying this year’s bill authorizes $10 m for AFRICOM to “assess alternative locations and host arrangements for multilateral exercises with African partners.”
“The committee further believes that diversifying the hosts and locations of these exercises may help the [Defense Department] expand partnerships in Africa, increase the capabilities of African partners and further U.S. access and influence on the continent,” states the report.
Other AFRICOM-led exercises include the Navy’s Cutlass Express near the Horn of Africa, Obangame Express on the west African coast and Phoenix Express in the Mediterranean.
With Inhofe retiring at the end of the year, the Sahrawis will lose one of their most powerful advocates on Capitol Hill. But Morocco’s status as a key host in the African Lion exercise may remain in peril.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., also sits on the Armed Services Committee and indicated at last week’s confirmation hearing he intends to continue pushing Morocco on its Western Sahara policy. He expressed concern the long-simmering conflict with the Polisario Front could once again devolve into open war.
“This could be a powder keg,” said Rounds. “With other outside interests priming the pump, should we not get this issue resolved, it could be another one of these hot spots that does not go away and a little bit of attention right now may go a long way.” (Source: Defense News)
22 Jul 22. Inzpire reveals value of DASA prototype gunnery simulator project. Inzpire was awarded a GBP346,024 (USD414,049) contract from the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) in June to develop a prototype mixed-reality deployable simulator.
Speaking to Janes at Farnborough Airshow on 20 July, Steven Pook, head of Mission Training Devices for Inzpire, said that the company was awarded a GBP346,024 contract from DASA in June – funded via Defence and Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) – to deliver a gunnery simulator.
The project, known as the ‘Synthetic Aviation Gunnery Equipment’ (SAGE), will involve the design, build, test, evaluation, and development of a prototype that will support 22 Squadron’s Crew Served Weapons Instructors (CSWIs) requirements for a live-training alternative, meeting the Joint Helicopter Command’s (JHC) Operational Shooting Policy, the company said in a separate announcement. Pook noted that the need to develop a new deployable gunnery simulator came out of a requirement from 22 CSWIs for a virtual trainer that is capable of delivering currency training – a capability, which the current 22 CSWIs simulators lack. (Source: Janes)
26 Jul 22. Exercise Shared Accord wrapping up. Exercise Shared Accord, which saw South African and United States military personnel hone humanitarian and other skills in support of peace support operations (PSOs), ends on Wednesday 27 July. A group of about 50 Americans, including dental and veterinary specialists, worked alongside SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) personnel in uMhlathuze and uMfolozi local municipalities in the Richards Bay district of KwaZulu-Natal. Their focus was on general health as well as dental and optometric diagnosis and care, along with veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations for pets.
On the tactical side, Americans attached to the US Army Southern European Task Force Africa (SETAF-AF) of the US Armed Forces, worked with SA Air Force (SAAF) pilots and cargo handling personnel on efficient loading, unloading and delivery of peace support equipment. Other taskings saw military police in action at roadblocks and inspection points and medevacs, and practice disaster management procedures, including chemical spills.
One drill saw military police working an accident scene simulation with provincial emergency medical service personnel. The simulation was the practical culmination of days of theoretical training. Other drills included tactical air landing, rollcall and its importance as well as working and caring for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps.
Wednesday’s closing ceremony will have demonstrations including high altitude low opening (HALO) parachutists, medevacs, handling potentially toxic spillages as well as joint police and traffic officer control of, among others, crowds and crashes.
The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) has it the Shared Accord exercise is staged to improve bilateral military interoperability in air support and peace support operations for landward forces as well as exercising provision of medical assistance and humanitarian relief to own forces and the local population. SAMHS together with the New York Army National Guard personnel were in the forefront of the community outreach programme.
25 Jul 22. U.S. helicopters hold first live-fire drills in S. Korea since 2019. U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters based in South Korea are holding live-fire drills with rockets and guns for the first time since 2019, as the allies step up military exercises amid tension with North Korea.
Training resumed at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex just south of the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) along the border, after having been cancelled in recent years when those living nearby complained about noise and safety concerns.
Over the past week, AH-64E v6 Apache helicopters engaged in certification drills, video images and photographs released by the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division showed.
“Crews are qualifying during both day and night on the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, Hydra 70 rocket and 30mm canon,” the division said on Twitter.
The drills come as the allies announced they would resume other live field training during joint exercises scaled back for several years because of COVID-19 and efforts to reduce tension with the North.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to “normalise” joint drills and boost deterrence against the North.
The Apache drills will also measure the level of noise they generate, in response to the complaints, a defence ministry official said.
U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lack of live-fire training had been a “big problem” for the U.S. pilots and crews, a former senior U.S. defence official said.
“They were less ready by the time they left (South Korea) than when they arrived,” he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military operations.
During the period of no live-fire drills, the Pentagon paid to send Apache crews back to the United States for qualification exercises every quarter, he added.
The problem was worsened when the U.S. military permanently stationed a previously rotational Apache unit in South Korea in February, he said.
The administration of former South Korean President Moon Jae-in had no interest in overcoming the political problems and resuming the drills, the former official said, predicting that Yoon was likely to make more progress. (Source: Reuters)
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