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OAHU, Hawaii - Rim of the Pacific 2016 participants from eight nations showcased their amphibious landing and beach assault capabilities at Pyramid Rock Beach, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Bellows Beach, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 30.
Part of the “free play” phase of RIMPAC 2016, amphibious and air assaults culminated a month’s worth of interoperability training involving multinational land, sea and air assets.
Rim of the Pacific Combined Exercise Control Group Director Rear Adm. Russell Allen said the exercise control group helped set the stage for the invasion scenarios, slowly building a road to crisis in an imaginary group of islands based roughly on the Hawaiian Islands.
“We use our opposing forces ships, submarines and air assets in an attempt to prevent RIMPAC forces from achieving their goals. While the schedule of events phase is highly-scripted, the “free play” phase at the end of RIMPAC creates a more reactionary environment and drives a more real-world response to real-time exercise events,” said Allen.
As the command and control platform for the amphibious task force, amphibious assault ship USS America’s (LHA 6) embarked leadership coordinated with ground forces and shipboard operators to insert roughly 200 U.S. Marines ashore via CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters and MV-22B Ospreys.
Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces RIMPAC 16, U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Ray Descheneaux, said careful planning, progressive training and a combined effort to overcome communication barriers and variations in tactics among participating forces ensured successful mission execution.
“Collectively, that communication piece was the foundation,” Descheneaux said. “Building on that communication piece with common tactics, techniques and proficiencies was absolutely pivotal, and it really set the success here in Hawaii…”
During the invasion scenario, land, sea and air forces, consisting of more than 2,000 U.S. Marines and Sailors, and armed forces from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, loaded into aircraft, landing craft air cushion, assault amphibious vehicles, and combat rubber raiding craft and headed ashore; their mission, to secure the area and stop opposing forces.
Commander of the Australian RIMPAC contingent, Commodore Mal Wise, said the Australian Army’s Amphibious Ready Element, Royal Australian Navy Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152) and Royal Australian Navy Canberra Class amphibious ship HMAS Canberra (L02) progressed through a complex and graduated training program, culminating in the final landing and assault.
“The amphibious activity marks the end of a training program where Army personnel have been working with United States, New Zealand, Tongan and Malaysian soldiers as an integrated unit at both Island of Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii training ranges.
“HMAS Canberra has also refined and tested its ability to deploy these Army personnel to shore including demonstrating the ability to launch and recover different aircraft types and landing craft,” Wise said.
As amphibious vehicles departed amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and transited ashore, U.S., Australian and Canadian aircraft, including MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161, Australian AP-3C Orions, Canadian FA-18s, AH-1W Cobra helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367 and FA-18s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 115 conducted reconnaissance and simulated close-air support against enemy positions in the objective area and near the beach landing site.
Landing forces rolled ashore aboard AAVs, LCACs and CRRC. The allied forces then consolidated on the beach and prepared for follow-on offensive operations.
San Diego Commanding Officer Capt. Carl Meuser praised the effectiveness of the international team.
"We took a diverse, international team who had never worked together before and completed a sophisticated operation in a compressed timeline while accomplishing a number of first ever evolutions with our international partners. This was a win at every level," said Meuser.
RIMPAC 2016 is the world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.