By Vice Adm. Kenneth E. Floyd
Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet; Commander, RIMPAC Combined Task Force
Today, we kick off the 24th Rim of the Pacific exercise in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and I can tell you that there are more than 25,000 Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Soldiers from 22 nations here that are very excited to begin the world’s largest international maritime exercise.
The RIMPAC series of exercises first started in 1971, and though the goal of the exercise hasn’t changed – helping forces from different countries work together better at sea – with each edition the exercise evolves to include new partners, new concepts, new ships and new technologies. With more than 50 ships and submarines and more than 200 aircraft, RIMPAC 2014 is the biggest ever.
There really is no other exercise in the world quite like RIMPAC. Forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States have gathered to work together in Hawaii and the waters nearby, as well as in Southern California. Their training includes everything from disaster relief and maritime security to complex warfighting.
In addition to two countries participating for the first time at RIMPAC, Brunei and China, we have hospital ships taking part in the exercise for the first time. We have added a Special Operations component commander, which is another first. And we will be using some new equipment, like the Independence variant of the Littoral Combat Ship, with LCS-2 operating in the waters near Hawaii and LCS-4 off the coast of San Diego.
The training at RIMPAC is realistic and relevant. The relationships that are forged at RIMPAC span oceans and years. Ask any veteran of RIMPACs past, and they will tell you that what stands out most in their memory is the chance to work alongside sailors of different navies and ships of different nations, improving their skills and building trust so that when we are called upon to respond to a crisis or disaster, we are ready to respond as a team.
The global maritime environment is too large and too complex for any one nation to safeguard, and countries in the Pacific region have experienced economic prosperity largely because of the security and stability that exists at sea. Our economies, lives and mutual interest are more intertwined now than ever before, and RIMPAC provides the opportunity for participating forces to train to ensure the ability to deter disruptions to global supply chains and threats to lines of communication and commerce.
We have put together a strong team for RIMPAC 2014, and I am looking forward to what is certain to be a great exercise.
Editor’s note: Want to know more about RIMPAC? Follow the hashtag #RIMPAC2014 on social media.