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US Military Power 2012

July, 2013

Report on U.S. Military Power 2012
China Strategic Culture Promotion Association

Chapter Six - Military Exercises

U.S. military exercises include exercises conducted by the U.S. Armed Forces alone and those conducted jointly by the U.S Armed Forces and other militaries. In 2012, the number of U.S. military exercises, the countries participating in the exercises, and weaponry and equipment and personnel involved in the exercises are all on the rise.

I. Military Exercises Conducted by the U.S. Military Alone

Exercise Red Flag-Alaska 2012. From 7thto 22ndJune, the U.S. Air Force conducted Red Flag-Alaska 2012, an exercise of simulated air combats. Different from previous drills, the Opposition Force employed advanced jet planes, surface-to-air missiles and satellite jamming devices, with F-15 and F-16 fighters painted to represent Russian Federation Air Force fighters. As revealed by the U.S. Air Force officials, there was a specially designed program of attacking underground targets, the purpose of which was to train pilots for bombing missions against underground nuclear facilities in Iran and DPRK.

Schriever Wargame 2012 International Game (SW12IG). The 7thin a series of Air Force Space Command wargames conducted at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada on April 20th, SW12IG was the first game in the series history that used a combined team led by NATO and Australia. The SW12 IG scenario depicted NATO/Australian combined counter-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa. The scale and scope of SW series have kept on expanding since 2001.

Exercise Internal Look. From mid-February to the beginning of March, the Central Command secretly conducted Exercise Internal Look to assess the likely impact of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Two results came out of the exercise: first, Iran launches a missile against a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf, killing around 200 U.S. sailors; the U.S takes revenge, thus involving itself in the war; second, Iran is unwilling to confront the U.S. directly; instead, it uses Afghan armed groups as proxies to launch attacks on U.S. and NATO forces. "Internal Look" is one of the most important wargames conducted by the Central Command, usually twice a year. In recent years, they have been used to rehearse DoD's Middle East operational plans.

II. Exercises Conducted by the U.S.Armed Forces and Other Militaries

Joint anti-submarine exercise by the U.S. and the ROK. From 20thto 24thFebruary, the ROK and the U.S. carried out an anti-submarine drill off the western coast of ROK in response to DPRK's submarine threats. The drill is aimed at improving coordinated operations of the two militaries in order to tackle the threats posed by DPRK's submarines in the disputed Western Waters.

Key Resolve 2012, a joint US-ROK exercise. From February 27thto March 9th, over 2,100 U.S. military personnel and around 200,000 ROK soldiers took part in Key Resolve 2012, an annual joint exercise. The exercise focused on defense operations, making preparations for the handover of wartime operational command from the U.S. to the ROK. The two countries also conducted a joint field maneuver drill, code named Foal Eagle, from March 1stto April 30th. Around 11,000 U.S. and ROK soldiers participated in the exercise with a focus on landing operations.

Joint US-ROK Air Force Exercises. From May, 7thto 18th, units from the ROK Air Force and the U.S. 7thAir Force conducted an air defense exercise based on the U.S.-led multinational Red Flag air exercise. Under the leadership of the ROK Air Force and set in the west of the Korean Peninsula, the exercise was the largest ever air defense exercise with 60 military aircraft.

The Joint Yellow-Sea Exercises. From June 23rdto 25th, the U.S. and the ROK conducted a regular exercise in the Yellow Sea, involving USS George Washington and over ten warships and submarines, including King Sejong the Great-class Aegis destroyer from the ROK Navy. The aim of the exercise is to improve coordination within the U.S. carrier strike group and joint operations between U.S. carrier-born fighters and ROK fighters.

Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012. From August 20thto 31st, the U.S. and the ROK carried out Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012 in the ROK. The exercise, for which the Combined Forces Command is responsible, involved 56,000 ROK soldiers and over 30,000 U.S. soldiers. As an annual defense-oriented exercise, it is a comprehensive test of the joint operations capabilities of the two militaries. Ulchi Freedom Guardian is the new name of the military exercise previously known as Ulchi-Focus Lens, a combined exercise between the U.S. and the ROK held annually since 1975.

Exercise Carat 2012. From July 2ndto 11th, a joint U.S.-Philippines maritime military exercise, code-named Carat, was carried out in southern Philippines. About 950 sailors and coast guards participated in the exercise which includes such subjects as maritime interdiction, diving, maritime firing, and maritime search and rescue. The purpose of the exercise is to improve maritime security capabilities and foster coordination among units involved in the exercise.

Philippines-U.S. Balikatan Expercise 2012. From April 16thto 28th, 2,300 Philippine soldiers and 4,500 U.S. soldiers took part in a 12-day joint exercise in Luzon and Palawan. Training subjects include evacuation, live-ammunition firing, landing assault using small boats, amphibious landing, and so on. Military observers from Japan, the ROK, and Australia were invited for the first time.

Joint exercise involving the U.S., the ROK, and Japan. From June 21st to 22nd, the U.S., the ROK, and Japan conducted a joint maritime military exercise in the waters south of the Korean Peninsula. Destroyers, logistics support ships, anti-submarine helicopters from the ROK and the U.S. navies and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force took part in maritime search and rescue and interdiction drills. Such trilateral exercises were conducted many times in either Hawaii or Japan, but this is the first time when it was conducted off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.

Exercise Cope North 2012: From February 11th to 24th, the U.S. Air Force, JASDF, and the Royal Australian Air Force conducted "Cope North 2012", a joint exercise in the Pacific. It is the first time when Australian Air Force took part in "Cope North" series which used to be hosted in the Anderson AFB and participated by air units from USAF and JASDF. F-16 fighters from the 18th Aggressor Squadron of the Eielson AFB played the Opposition Force, B-52 bombers from the 23rd Bomber Squadron of the Minot AFB played the role of both the friendly force and the enemy. The training subjects in the exercise include humanitarian disaster relief efforts, air combat involving various planes, land attack, and so on. From these subjects it is easy to infer that the exercise is targeted at potential rivals in Northeast Asia.

Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC)2012: The world's largest international maritime exercise led by the U.S. was carried out in and around Hawaii from June 29thto August 3rd. 42 warships, six submarines, over 200 military planes and 25,000 military personnel from 22 countries were involved in the joint action. The scale of the RIMPAC series keeps on increasing, with only eight countries in 2006, 14 in 2010, and 22 in 2012. The main subjects include amphibious landing, artillery firing, missile attack, anti-submarine operations, air defense, anti-piracy, mine sweeping, explosive ordnance disposal, surface and underwater rescue, humanitarian aid, and so on. During RIMPAC 2012, U.S. military did not take up all the command and control; except that Rear Admiral Gerald Beaman, commander of the Third Fleet acted as Command in Chief, all key commanding roles were taken up by non-U.S. officers. It is of note here that among the new participants of the exercise, there are not only the ROK, a traditional U.S. ally, but also India and Russia. China, as a majorAsia-Pacific power, was not invited.

Exercise Gold Cobra 2012. From February 7th to 17th, Exercise Gold Cobra 2012, a multinational joint exercise was held in Thailand. 13,000 service members from the U.S., Thailand, Japan, the ROK, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Malaysia took part in the exercise. Australia, France, Canada, U.K., Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Vietnam were invited to work out the scenario of the exercise. New Zealand, Brunei, China, Laos, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, East Timor, UAE, and Myanmar were invited to send observers. The Third Expeditionary Force of the U.S. Marine Corps, which is stationed in Okinawa, played a major role in the exercise which staged such subjects as live-ammunition firing and evacuation of non-combatants.

Exercise Eager Lion 2012: From May 7th to 30th, Exercise Eager Lion 2012, a multinational joint military exercise led by the U.S. took place in Southern Jordan. 12,000 military personnel from 19 countries participated in the exercise which is the largest ever military drill in the past decade in the Middle East.

Exercise Initial Link: the U.S. joined many Middle Eastern countries in Exercise Initial Link from April 8th to April 18th. The exercise was aimed at fostering defense cooperation among participating countries.

Mine-sweeping drill in the Persian Gulf. From September 16th to 27th, the U.S., together with some 20 other countries, conducted a large-scale mine-sweeping drill in the Persian Gulf. The scenario of the drill is that extremist groups have placed huge numbers of underwater mines in the strategic waters in the Middle East, namely, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Gulf of Oman. Eight mine-sweeping ships from the U.S. took part in the exercise, together with USS Ponce, a logistics and support ship. four MH-53 Sea Stallions were also involved in the exercise.

These exercises demonstrate new characteristics when compared with previous ones:

First, the scale of some of the exercises is unprecedented. Take the RIMPAC series as an example. In 2006, there were only eight participating countries. In 2010, that number rose to 14. In 2012, the number rose again to a record high of 22. 42 surface warships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft, and 25,000 military personnel took part in the 36-day exercise, making it the largest and longest of the RIMPAC series so far.

Second, training subjects in these exercises cover both non-traditional and traditional security issues. Multinational joint exercises led by the U.S. used to include mainly non-traditional security subjects such as maritime search and rescue, anti-piracy, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian relief. The 2012 exercises focus more on traditional subjects such as air combat, air defense, ground attack, close-air support, landing operations, anti-submarine operations, and maritime mine-sweeping, emphasizing joint efforts against military crises.

Third, exercises prepared against the so-called A2/AD threats are clearly targeting China and Iran. Exercises such as Internal Look 2012 and Austere Challenge 2012 are clearly aimed at Iran, while exercises such as Gold Cobra 2012, Balikatan 2012, RIMPAC 2012 are clearly targeting China. The exercises which were large in scale, high in frequency and intensity, and especially those that took place when tension in the region rose, naturally caused concern and anxiety, which in turn further intensified the situation, exerting a negative impact on world peace, stability, cooperation, and development.

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