WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 54 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
SPECIAL REPORT / PARTNERS IN GLOBAL PRESENCE
“Year to year, it’s more about [relationships],” he
said. “We haven’t really collaborated in a particularly important way on humanitarian relief that I can
remember, and with any luck we won’t have a huge
international disaster in the next few years that leads
us to reap the benefits [of RIMPAC collaboration].
“It almost doesn’t matter what kind of benign
kinetic military operation we’re postulating,” he said.
“There has to be some sort of credible potential bene-
fits. I think it is important to ground it in some kind of
militarily meaningful benefit.”
However, organizations like Military Sealift
Command (MSC) see it as highly valuable from an
operational standpoint, because it is no simple task to
communicate with other navies even if you speak their
Rick Appling, deputy operations officer for MSC
Pacific, said the command is involved in the exercise
by operating combat logistics force ships that will help
support the combined forces during RIMPAC. They
will be charged with providing fuel and consumables
like fresh fruit and vegetables or repair parts. In addition, they will be in charge of towing decommissioned
ships in for live-fire exercises.
By participating in RIMPAC, Sailors get real-world
experience, and the command is better prepared to
respond to a crisis where other countries are involved
should it happen in the Pacific, Appling said.
“What we’re doing in RIMPAC is what we do every
day, but the difference and the true value and, really, the
impetus behind RIMPAC itself is that we are operating
in a combined environment with multiple different
nationalities of navies,” he said. “It’s not something you
do normally every day in peacetime. The true value to
us is then operating in that combined fleet maritime
component commander environment.”
It is not just language differences or even cultural
differences. The reality is that navies are run in a very
specific fashion, so combining a bunch of different
navies in one exercise, all with their own codes and
processes, is not something you want to figure out on
the fly during a real disaster, Appling said.
“While there is an international standard and international rules, navies have adopted their own practices
and their own methods,” he said. “Not everybody
approaches it in the same way.
“The time you find yourselves having to operate
together, you do not want that to be your first event,”
Sailors from the People’s Liberation Army Navy ship Yueyang board the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal to
perform a visit, board, search and seizure drill during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. While the United
States and China are at a very delicate point in their relationship, China is expected to participate in RIMPAC 2016.