The United States Indo Pacific Strategy (IPS) promulgated by the White House – United States Presidential Office in February 2022, has a major component of expanding deterrence in tandem with allies and partners.
Indo Pacific Strategy
The IPS provides an overview of the Indo Pacific strategy approach, to, “Bolster Indo Pacific Security. This includes the concepts of expanding deterrence in tandem with Indo Pacific allies and partners and states, “Integrated deterrence will be the cornerstone of our (United States) approach. We will more tightly integrate our efforts across warfighting domains and the spectrum of conflict to ensure that the United States, alongside our allies and partners, can dissuade or defeat aggression in any form or domain. We will drive initiatives that reinforce deterrence and counter coercion, such as opposing efforts to alter territorial boundaries or undermine the rights of sovereign nations at sea”.
Towards this end the, ”United States will work with allies and partners to deepen our interoperability and develop and deploy advanced warfighting capabilities as we support them in defending their citizens and their sovereign interests,” as per the IPS.
In practice this amounts to the INDOPACOM or Indo Pacific Command which is the unified command of the United States Armed Forces in the Indian and the Pacific Ocean also deems promoting security cooperation in the region as one of the key elements for, “enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” and, “encouraging peaceful development…”
Towards this end, the INDOPACOM has been maintaining a high tempo of defence cooperation activity in the Indo Pacific.
This comes even as attention of the strategic community was focused on events around Taiwan in the Indo Pacific so far in the month of August, significant activities undertaken by the United States Indo Pacific Command needs mention given their expanse in engagement of multiple partners and types.
A survey of the news reports issued by the INDOPACOM on military to military activities from 01 to 15 August – a short period of a fortnight demonstrates the intensity of activity undertaken.
Importantly some of these such as Rim of the Pacific 2022 were large multi-national events while others which were bilateral as Super Garuda Shield with Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) was expanded in terms of numbers fielded as well as level of command participation.
Exercises were supplemented by high level visits and port calls. During such visits multiple local engagements were also conducted to add to the outreach.
Here is a review of some of these activities with, “strategic partners,” across the region from . Importantly activities conducted by INDOPACOM with strategic treaty allies such as Japan, South Korea and so on have not been covered as these would be on expected lines.
Rim of the Pacific 2022
Rim of the Pacific 2022 was indicated at the world’s largest international maritime exercise by INDOPACOM which concluded on August 4. Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, three submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft and over 25,000 personnel participated in the 28th edition of the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
This year’s exercise included units and personnel from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
One of the important events was the RIMPAC Amphibious Assault (Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Tonga and U.S.).
Super Garuda Shield
In Super Garuda Shield originally known as Garuda Shield held as a bilateral exercise between the US and Indonesia armed forces, 14 nations participated adding to another multinational exercise in the Indo Pacific region.
The United States Embassy in Indonesia in a press release stated that “Super Garuda Shield 2022 features a number of “firsts,” including the first ever tri-lateral airborne jump among the United States, Indonesia, and Japan”.
Search and Rescue
U.S. Coast Guard conducted a multilateral search and rescue drill alongside longtime partners from the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Palau in late July.
Disaster Management and Emergency Response
The U.S. deployed a U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Medical Support and health response team to Subang Air Base, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to promote interoperability of regional military, interagency and civilian emergency response and disaster management experts as part of Pacific Angel 22-2.
High level visits
Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command visited Brunei and Malaysia to key partners in the Indo Pacific during this period focusing on enhancing security cooperation between the United States and the two countries.
He also delivered a keynote address at the National Resilience College in Malaysia.
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. was in Singapore on Aug. 7-10 where he met with Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Singapore Minister for Defence; Army Lt. Gen. Melvyn Ong, Chief of Defence Force, Singapore Armed Forces; and Maj. Gen. Kelvin Khong, Chief of Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force. Brown also was conferred a Meritorious Service Medal (Military) and attended a celebration marking the 57th National Day of the Republic of Singapore.
The Emory S. Land-class submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) hosted several engagements with Indian Navy partners and outreach events during a scheduled port visit in Visakhapatnam, India as per the INDOPACOM Press release.
During the visit, the ship also hosted a tour of the ship for students from St. Joseph’s College for Women during a scheduled port visit to Visakhapatnam. The aim of the programme carried out under the “Z-gram 116”, based on the need to open opportunities for women in the Navy.
Ship Maintenance by Partners
India’s Ministry of Defence in a press release on heralded the arrival of US Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew at L&T’s Shipyard at Kattupalli, Chennai on August 07, 2022 for undertaking repairs and allied services.
The event saw participation by a host of Indian dignitaries including Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, Flag Officer Commanding Tamil Nadu & Puducherry Naval Area Rear Admiral S Venkat Raman, Consul General in Chennai Ms Judith Ravin and Defence Attaché at the US Embassy at New Delhi Rear Admiral Michael Baker.
Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar highlighted the importance of the maintenance of the ship in an Indian shipyard for expanding strategic partnership with the U.S.
Dr Ajay Kumar said, “We are indeed pleased to welcome US Naval Ship USNS Charles Drew to India, for making her voyage ready. India’s initiative also assumes special significance in furthering the strategic partnership between India and the US. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for deeper engagements”.
Importantly as per L & T, Marine Sealift Command (MSC) of the US Navy had selected the shipyard at Katupalli after “rigorous evaluation of select shipyards in India and cleared L&T for undertaking repairs on their vessel”, thus more such ships from the US Navy MSC are likely to be provided maintenance support.