The United States has sent a spy plane and destroyer to an Asian multilateral exercise which kicked off in Brunei this week.
As I noted in a previous piece, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Maritime Security and Counterterrorism Field Training Exercise (MS & CT FX) will be co-hosted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) and will run from May 2 to May 12 (See: “Singapore, Brunei to Host Multilateral Military Exercise in May”).
ADMM-Plus, which groups 10 ASEAN states along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, is emerging as the premier venue for defense and security issues in the region.
The exercise begins with a harbor phase which includes board, search, and seizure (VBSS) skills exchanges, flight deck familiarization and a welcome reception hosted by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
The sea phase of the exercise will then see the Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) participate, according to a statement on U.S. involvement issued by Task Force 73, a U.S. Navy task force of the Seventh Fleet which coordinates exercises for Southeast Asia. That phase will feature a maritime security and counterterrorism scenario, both of which include cross-deck helicopter operations, VBSS training, divisional tactics and communications drills.
Participating ships will then move to Singapore, where the exercise will conclude with a land storming counterterrorism exercise. According to the Task Force 73 statement seen by The Diplomat, U.S. military units will include USS Stethem and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol craft, along with U.S. Army Pacific Command chemical, biological, radiological and explosives (CBRE) teams as well as staff from the U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Destroyer Squadron 7 and Task Force 73.
The P-8A Poseidon has received significant attention over the past few years due to its growing involvement in the South China Sea, from aerial incidents with China to rotational deployments in Singapore (See: “US, Singapore Agree Spy Plane Deployment Amid South China Sea Tensions”).
“We are looking forward to getting out to sea and training together with sailors from other regional navies,” Cmdr. Harry Marsh, commanding officer of the USS Stethem, said in the statement. “Our crew will be able to see first-hand how other navies operate and we can learn from them while sharing our own operational tactics and procedures.”
Approximately 3,000 personnel, 18 ships, 17 helicopters, two maritime patrol aircraft along with Special Forces from the 18 nations will be deployed during the exercise, which is intended to both facilitate collaboration in maritime security and counterterrorism as well as promote information-sharing in responding to various training scenarios.