The U.S. Navy hosted the world’s largest maritime exercise, in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii, between June 29 and August 4, 2022.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise, also known as RIMPAC, had 26 countries participating this year. It included, apart from the US, forces from Britain, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, India, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tonga.
38 surface ships, 4 submarines, national armies of 9 countries, more than 170 aircraft, and about 25,000 military personnel trained and operated together in and around the Hawaiian Islands and southern California. It was a massive show of military collaboration and coordination, led by the US, and clearly directed against China.
The US led military RIMPAC exercises have been conducted every 2 years, on even-numbered years, since 1971. It started as a military exercise of US, Australia and Canada. From 1974, it has been including other countries. The last time the exercise was conducted on a full scale was in 2018. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, RIMPAC was an on-sea only exercise in 2020.
Earlier China too had been invited to the RIMPAC. China participated in the RIMPAC exercises in 2014 and 2016. In May 2018, the Pentagon first invited and later cancelled the invitation to China to participate in RIMPAC that year. This reflects the decision of the US to openly target China, which it views as the main roadblock to its aim of establishing its domination over Asia. The justification given for this was China’s increasing military presence in the South China Sea, in contention with the territorial claims of certain other Asian countries.
In December 2021, the two houses of the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022, with the Biden administration recommending that Taiwan be invited to the RIMPAC, as a clear provocation against China. However, Taiwan was finally not invited to RIMPAC 2022, thus avoiding further exacerbation of the US confrontation with China.
But it may be noted that even as RIMPAC 2022 exercises were going on, in mid-July this year, the US carried out a military provocation against China, by sending its warships through the Taiwan straits, along the coast line of China.
India had observer status in the RIMPAC exercises since 2006. India first participated in RIMPAC 2014 and has been taking part every two years since then. INS Sahyadri and INS Satpura have taken part in these operations. In addition to these, in RIMPAC 2022 the Indian armed forces participated with the P-8I long-range, multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by Boeing for the Indian Navy. P-81 is reported to have advanced capabilities for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (AsuW), intelligence, maritime patrol, and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The RIMPAC 2022 exercises have to be seen in the light of the strategy pursued by the US to establish its domination over this entire region. The US wants to block the advance of China, which has risen as a major challenge to US in recent years. The deployment of US military forces in the South China Sea have increased in scope and frequency, with repeated deliberate acts of provocation against China. The US has also been instigating India and other countries against China.
The US views India as an important player, in its efforts to secure its domination in the Indo-Pacific region. Towards this end, the US imperialists have been building and strengthening a military strategic alliance with the Indian ruling class. The US wants to use the territory and people of India against people of other countries of Asia, to realise its aim of bringing the whole of Asia under its domination.
The militarisation of the Indo Pacific by the US imperialists is dangerous to the cause of peace in the region. The Indian people must oppose this militarisation and demand that India breaks its military alliance with the US.