U.S., allies complete Pacific military training

Sunday, August 1, 2010

HONOLULU -- Monthlong military drills in the Pacific, which conclude this weekend, were intended only as training exercises to combat terrorism and piracy -- and were not meant to send a message to North Korea, the commander of the drills says.

Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt said the biennial 14-nation Rim of the Pacific military exercises had been planned for two years and were not a reaction to North Korea's accusation earlier last month that the U.S. and South Korea were plotting to attack.

Hunt said Pacific nations will be better able to combat terrorism, piracy and violent extremism as a result of the exercises. The military drills that end Sunday brought together 20,000 personnel, 32 ships, five submarines and more than 170 aircraft in waters surrounding Hawaii.

"What we are trying to accomplish with RIMPAC is training for ourself, not necessarily sending a message," Hunt said. "Trying to read current events into it would be inappropriate, and is certainly not something that was part of the structure or the intent of the exercise."

He said the exercises improved tactical coordination and built relationships that will improve security throughout the Pacific.

"These are very important parts of maritime security," said Japan Rear Adm. Kazuki Yamashita.

Participating countries practiced amphibious landings, mine search and clearance, live-fire missile shooting, air defense exercises, submarine hunting and more during the drills that began June 23.

For the U.S. Marines, the gathering was an opportunity for troops to train on water as well as land, said Brig. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow.

"We've been heavily committed as a ground force primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. This exercise has allowed us to ... get back to those key amphibious roots that are very important to us."

Participating countries included Australia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, France, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

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