Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) is the world’s largest maritime military exercise that involves forces from many countries. RIMPAC is run every two years in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. Nations with an interest in the Pacific Rim region send ships, aircraft and troops to take part in the exercise.
Over 1 000 Canadian sailors, soldiers, and aviators are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to August 2, 2018. The exercise is being led by the United States Navy. It is taking place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
The Royal Canadian Navy is sending over 675 members to participate in RIMPAC. This includes two frigates, one interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship, and two maritime coastal defense vessels:
- HMCS Vancouver
- HMCS Ottawa
- MV Asterix
- HMCS Yellowknife
- HMCS Whitehorse
There will also be divers, and logistics and support personnel.
RIMPAC provides a training opportunity for nations to:
- enhance the way their forces work together
- enhance the way their forces work with other nations
- improve readiness for a wide range of possible military operations
- strengthen military-to-military partnerships
Canada has taken part in every RIMPAC since it began in 1971. The exercise is a training opportunity for all Canadian Armed forces (CAF) branches every two years. The Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force all take part. They train together (jointly) with joint allies and partners from other nations.
The joint forces that take part in RIMPAC are made up of CAF members and assets from across Canada. They may be drawn from any or all of the main CAF branches.
The CAF objectives during RIMPAC are to:
- develop and enact plans to enable the navy, army and air force to operate as a joint force within a coalition of other nations
- enhance the CAF’s ability to conduct missions with other nations, that fit with Canada’s federal objectives
- develop skills and procedures designed to foster military capabilities. These include:
- communications with partners
- crisis response
RIMPAC began in 1971 as an annual exercise. Since 1974, it has been scheduled every second year. Canada, the United States and Australia have taken part in every exercise since its inception. They are the only nations that have done this.
Some other nations that have taken part in RIMPAC include Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom.
The Pacific Rim region is a hub of international activity. It has great importance for commerce between countries. The area itself is too large for any one nation to monitor. This means that nations with shared goals need to work together to monitor the area and meet its unique challenges.
The Pacific Ocean remains an important area of Canadian interest. More Canadian trade occurs across the Pacific than across the Atlantic.
RIMPAC takes place in three phases:
- Harbour Phase
- Force Integration Training Phase
- Free Play Phase
Each phase offers a different experience to learn, each one becoming more complex than the last. This allows for service members to assume a wide variety of leadership positions.
The Harbour Phase is designed to build professional and personal relationships between military members from other nations. They meet face to face for briefings, training and detailed planning. The aim is to allow participants to:
- get to know their exercise colleagues
- finalize details of plans
- lay the foundation for professional and successful operations
The Force Integration Phase involves a structured and detailed training program. It develops the skills of the units that take part. It is aimed at enabling participants to operate at the task force level. It exercises each nation’s ability to operate in a robust command and control setting with other nations. This phase also includes a variety of live training at sea, underwater, on the ground, and in the air.
The Free Play Phase tests military unit skills during a scenario. Component commanders and subordinate units respond to scenarios that become more and more intense. These include realistic situations that nations could face in the Pacific Rim. As a result, military units and members that take part experience challenging, full-spectrum operations. These cover surface, submarine, air, and land threats.