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First ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise successfully concludes: US 7th Fleet

Updated at Monday, 09 Sep 2019, 16:21
The Hanoitimes - AUMX is the perfect example of the benefits of training and working together at-sea during realistic scenarios.
The US Navy and maritime forces from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) successfully completed on September 6 the first ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX).
 
Officers of the US Navy and maritime forces of ASEAN states participate in the inauguration ceremony of the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise in Sattahip, Thailand on Sept 2. Photo: AP
Officers of the US Navy and maritime forces of ASEAN states participate in the inauguration ceremony of the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise in Sattahip, Thailand on Sept 2. Photo: AP

Co-led by the US and Royal Thai navies, AUMX included pre-sail activities in Thailand, Singapore and Brunei, followed by a sea phase in international waters in Southeast Asia, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, said US 7th Fleet.

AUMX, which marks the participation of nations include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam, promotes shared commitments to maritime partnerships, security and stability in Southeast Asia.

In all, AUMX includes eight warships and four aircraft from seven countries, and more than a thousand personnel representing all ten ASEAN member states and the US.

Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73, who oversees the US Navy’s security cooperation in Southeast Asia, said that AUMX was not a symbolic event, but indeed built capacity, as well as confidence.

“I fully believe we are stronger when we sail together,” Tynch said, noting that “The ASEAN-U.S. exercise is a significant event and a positive step toward building a more networked region. And that’s the key for maintaining stability and security in the maritime domain.”

Throughout the exercise, ASEAN member states and US forces operated together under a combined task force structure, training for realistic scenarios designed to reinforce interoperability in areas such as visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), maritime domain awareness, division tactics and maritime asset tracking, according to US 7th Fleet.

Commercial vessels, contracted by the US, served as simulated target vessels during the VBSS portion of the exercise, which focused on countering relevant maritime threats. Teams from multiple countries worked together to board and seize the ships under a variety of realistic scenarios, it said.

 
US Navy sailors and representatives of ASEAN member state maritime forces gather during the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX). Photo: US Navy
US Navy sailors and representatives of ASEAN member state maritime forces gather during the ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX). Photo: US Navy

“AUMX is the perfect example of the benefits of training and working together at-sea during realistic scenarios,” said Capt. Matt Jerbi, commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 and deputy commander of the AUMX Task Force. “AUMX was highly successful in strengthening multilateral proficiency, learning from each other and building the foundation to work together in the future.”

“The exercise is a useful platform for the navies of ASEAN member states to engage with the United States Navy to strengthen practical cooperation, enhance understanding and build confidence,” said Republic of Singapore Navy Colonel Lim Yu Chuan, commander of First Flotilla and commanding officer of 185 Squadron. “By working together to deal with maritime incidents at sea, it is important for navies to cooperate with each other to protect the key maritime trade routes and work towards safer seas for all.”

“The Navy will be benefited from this because they will be operating with other navies as far as maritime safety and security is concerned,” said Philippine Navy Chief of Naval Staff Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe “It also promotes exercise of freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded commerce.”

US assets included the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8), the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), three MH-60 helicopters, a P-8 Poseidon aircraft and staff assigned to DESRON 7 and CTF 73.

AUMX was first proposed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) in 2017 and confirmed during the 12th ADMM in October 2018.

While this was the first exercise of its kind with ASEAN, the US Navy has conducted engagements, exercises and port visits in Southeast Asia for decades. In 2019, the 25th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) bilateral exercise series commenced, along with the 18th Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) multilateral exercise.

The US Navy also participates routinely in ADMM-Plus maritime security exercises, to promote peace and stability throughout the region.
Linh Pham
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