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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Canadians to hold key positions in RIMPAC; while U.S. politicians want to ban China from military exercise

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

RIMPAC 16 gets underway June 30 and runs until August 4 in the Hawaiian and Southern California area. The Canadian Forces says it is sending the following:
  • A maritime component comprised of four ships (HMCS Calgary, HMCS Vancouver, HMCS Saskatoon and HMCS Yellowknife), a RCN team of clearance divers, and a forward logistics team;
  • A Land Component comprised of a Company Group based on a Rifle Company from the Third Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, based out of Valcartier, Quebec;
  • An Air Task Force comprised of several aircraft (six CF-188 Hornets, one CC-130 Hercules, one CC-150 Polaris and one CP-140 Aurora), a Maritime Helicopter Detachment, and a Tactical Aviation Detachment consisting of four CH-146 Griffons and two CH-147 Chinooks;
  • More than 1,500 sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen; and Several command, staff and support personnel.
The Canadian Forces noted that some of its personnel will once again hold key leadership positions during RIMPAC 2016. They include Rear-Admiral Scott Bishop, who will serve as the Deputy Commander of the Combined Task Force; and Brigadier-General Blaise Frawley, will serve as the Air Component Commander.

RIMPAC is held every two years. This year it will include 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel from the armed forces of 27 nations.

Training is varied and will include everything from counter-piracy to amphibious operations.

Besides the U.S., the participating nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy and China.

China first joined RIMPAC in 2014. It sent four ships but in addition one of its spy vessels also shadowed the exercise off Hawaii.

Some U.S. lawmakers have called for China to be banned from RIMPAC.

They are upset with what they see as China’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea. As part of its strategy in the region, China has been building artificial islands to act as military bases.

U.S. congressman Mark Takai, of Hawaii, has asked U.S. defense secretary Ash Carter to ban China from RIMPAC. “I guess my question is why then should we reward China for this aggressive behavior by including them in an event meant for allies and partners?” Takai asked Carter during a meeting in March.