The Canadian Army will send four warships and 800 soldiers, sailors and airmen to Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) this summer, the largest naval warfare exercise in the world.
The decision was finalized at a meeting earlier this month in San Diego attended by senior defense officials from Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore.
Two Canadian Navy frigates from British Columbia – HMCS Vancouver and HMCS Winnipeg – will be joined by Cyclone helicopters, an Aurora patrol aircraft and two coastal defense vessels, HMCS Brandon and HMCS Edmonton, during exercise this summer off Hawaii and California.
The Department of National Defense has said the ongoing war in Ukraine, which has drawn Canadian frigates from Halifax to Europe in support of NATO deterrent measures against Russia, will not affect the planned naval training in the Pacific region.
“Planning for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) participation in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) continues as originally planned despite events in Ukraine,” said the National Defense spokesperson, Véronique Sabourin, in an email.
“Our operational readiness management programs ensure the readiness of the CAF to conduct simultaneous operations through the participation and execution of specific exercises and training events in Canada and the world. abroad with allies and partners,” added Mr. Sabourin.
Canada will take key leadership roles in this year’s exercise. Rear Admiral Angus Topshee will serve as Deputy Combined Task Force Commander, Brigadier General. Mark Goulden will command the air component for the exercise and Cmdr. Doug Layton will serve as deputy commander of maritime forces.
25,000 STAFF FROM 27 COUNTRIES
The RIMPAC biennium was last held in 2020, when Canada sent a smaller contingent than originally planned due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The exercise itself was cut to two weeks from the usual six and was held exclusively at sea after the US Navy canceled shore-based training that had been part of RIMPAC since its inception.
The 2022 exercise is expected to be a return to all-force interoperability training with approximately 25,000 military personnel, 41 ships, four submarines and more than 170 aircraft from 27 nations participating.
The list of participating nations likely won’t be released until June when the exercise begins, according to a spokesperson for the US Navy’s Third Fleet, which hosts the event.
The big question for many military observers is whether the United States will invite Taiwan to the exercise for the first time, as a participant or an observer.
In December, US President Joe Biden signed into law defense spending bill which included a recommendation to conduct “practical training and military exercises with Taiwan, including, if appropriate, inviting Taiwan to participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercise conducted in 2022”.
The invitation was offered by the US Congress to counter “the People’s Republic of China’s increasingly coercive and aggressive behavior towards Taiwan”, according to the National Defense Authorization Act.
RIMPAC began as an annual exercise in 1971 before being moved to every two years due to its large size. Canada is one of the founding nations of the exercise, alongside the United States and Australia.
National Defense describes its participation in the war exercise as a key opportunity to build multinational relationships and strengthen peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.