The Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) has been underway in Hawaii since last month.
KHON2 spent the day at Marine Corps Base Hawaii to witness one of RIMPAC’s final exercises, including a simulated land, air, and sea assault.
It’s the largest international maritime exercise in the world, and it happens every two years in Hawaii. This year, brought some firsts, including four new participating countries and two new commanding forces at sea.
“To me, [RIMPAC], having participated five times before, is really the epitome of major Pacific exercises,” said Air Commodore Craig Heap of the Australian Defense Force. “It’s also one of the exercise where so many nations come together to build relationships, understanding, and from that comes cooperation and really trust among all those nations that are here.”
So far, RIMPAC 2018 has held 25 exercises. Sunday’s 26th exercise involved an amphibious assault, landing forces on a potentially hostile shore.
Bystanders at the event got to see five waves of assault amphibious vehicles storm the shore, equipped with grenade launchers and a .50 caliber machine gun. If troops need more equipment, a CH 53E helicopter capable of carrying 36,000 pounds helps secure the hostile area.
This exercise is considered the main event for the Marines at RIMPAC and involves seven countries and about 300 personnel.
Officials say amphibious raids, in real-life scenarios, could be used to destroy terrorists, capture pirates, rescue hostages, or to secure and remove materials that include weapons of mass destruction.
“Overall, this is a very complex operation to get ships, Amtrak, and aviators and planes into one spot in a very tight area. We’ve been planning this for a number of weeks and at the end of the day, I think it went very well and all the countries participating today learned quite a bit,” said Col. Michael Styskal, Commander 3rd Marine Regiment.
Another benefit to RIMPAC exercises is “they can now trust them empathically, and also understand what those services, what those countries and nations are capable of when they come to a major operation,” Air Commodore Heap added.
In all, RIMPAC 2018 featured 25 nations, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel. RIMPAC will wrap up on Aug. 2.