Chilean Army and Navy Participate in RIMPAC 2016 Exercise
By Carolina Contreras/ Diálogo September 14, 2016The Chilean Army and Navy honed their military skills in Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC 2016, the largest multinational naval exercise in the world. The training took place off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California between June 30th and August 5th, and was hosted by the U.S. Navy. During RIMPAC, the Chilean Navy participated with its FF Frigate Admiral Cochrane, a Cougar helicopter from their Naval Aviation's Attack Helicopter Squadron, as well as 23 commissioned and non-commissioned officers. "This is an opportunity to be a part of a multinational exercise with high professional standards, which also fosters cooperation among allied naval forces," said Chilean Navy Commander Juan Pablo Marín, commander of the Chilean Army’s frigate FF Admiral Cochrane. RIMPAC has taken place every other year since 1971. Its main setting is the Pacific Rim, one of the principal commercial routes along the Asia-Pacific coast, and its goal is to protect that route from any security threats. In this 25th version of RIMPAC, there were a total of 28 participating countries, as well as 44 surface vessels, four submarines, over 200 aircraft and approximately 25,000 military personnel who conducted the exercise in a fictitious armed conflict, in which one enemy nation assaulted another, refusing to comply with United Nations resolutions. The naval forces of the participating countries put their abilities to the test, operating in combined task forces to improve interoperability and promote regional stability in maritime-ground maneuvers. Simulated exercises included humanitarian aid, maritime security, and crisis-management using war powers. "We know how to organize and conduct a large-scale multinational force, as well as the standardized procedures among the different participating nations," stressed Captain Pablo Niemann, the oldest member of the Chilean delegation participating in RIMPAC, who, for the second year in a row, was named Second Commander of the Combined Forces Maritime Component. "This is recognition of the work that the Chilean Navy has been conducting for the past two decades in this exercise," he said. In this command role, Capt. Niemann was accompanied by four members of the Chilean Joint Staff. In addition to learning more about the development of the exercise, they also aspire to "a position of greater importance in RIMPAC in the near future," he added. Invited by the United States, the Chilean Navy has participated in the exercise every year since 1996. First experience The Chilean Army participated in RIMPAC for the first time with a platoon of 28 paratroopers from the "Lautaro" Special Operations Brigade. The Chilean personnel completed joint tasks with the Canadian and United States armies, forming a Multinational Expeditionary Force whose mission was to assist a country in civil war with a humanitarian crisis. The first phase of the exercise was instruction and training at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, San Diego, with coast-to-coast operations and combat techniques in hostile areas. They also learned military operations in urban terrain and tactic and technique procedures Finally, during the execution phase, they conducted embarking, setting sail, and debarking of the expeditionary force on San Clemente Island, California. "Sharing and exchanging professional experiences was very relevant," said Chilean Army Lieutenant Colonel Raúl Rosas. The FF Admiral Cochrane frigate and its crew joined Task Force 170, which led the USS John Stennis aircraft carrier, participating in a visit, board, search and seizure exercise along with the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Shoup, and the Indian Navy frigate INS Saptura, among others. The Chilean vessel is essentially an anti-submarine unit which allows it to participate in units that can provide protection to a group of aircraft carriers, or wherever else the need may arise. Specifically, the fact that it has a flight deck able to handle an SH-32 aircraft, and therefore train using the most available methods. To get to RIMPAC 2016, the Chilean Navy personnel went through a training process at the Navy's Training Center. Preparing the participating group to lead the exercise began in 2015 with coordination and planning meetings, so that later, starting in early 2016, all of the participants could meet to understand and get involved in the various tasks to be developed. "It will allow us to be prepared to participate in a multinational force if that is required," said Capt. Niemann.