USA: Sea Spirit at Rim of the Pacific 2012 Exercise

Sea Spirit at Rim of the Pacific 2012 Exercise

Eight nations took part in a joint operational planning training opportunity during Sea Spirit 2012, at the Ford Island Conference Center on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise.

Canadian Forces College senior instructors from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Royal Canadian Navy led more than 30 officers and senior enlisted members from Australia, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Thailand, and U.S. forces during the exercise by demonstrating how the Canadian Forces Operational Planning Process is designed at the operational level of warfare.

“Utilizing RIMPAC partner nation experts in their cognizant fields provided for a more dynamic and thoroughly developed plan in accomplishing Sea Spirit’s designed objectives,” said Lt. Cmdr. D. Matt Attaway, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet chief of plans and associate director of Sea Spirit.

Taking advantage of the training opportunities RIMPAC 2012 provides, representatives from participating nations formed a combined joint task forces (CJTF) operational planning team and focused on a multi-national force crisis response. Sea Spirit allowed the CJTF to broaden and share understanding of operational level planning using a fictional maritime scenario in the central Pacific Ocean.

“It’s a good opportunity to gain knowledge of the planning process and to cooperate with different militaries,” said Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews of the Chilean marines. “The language barrier can be challenging, but when you have a strong will to get everything done, it becomes easier.”

The group used a map that was modeled after the Spanish, British and French empires. Fictional nations and islands were printed on the map in place of existing countries. Participants actively walked on the map and moved wooden blocks representing ships, submarines and aircraft around to conceptualize military actions in the event of a real a life crisis.

“The map allows you to become really involved in the geography and landscape of the region,” said Australian Fleet Battle Staff Lt. Rebecca Wilson. “You can walk around and move military assets and analyze different courses of action.”

Sea Spirit was originally used by U.S. 3rd Fleet as an operational level of war education and training vehicle for RIMPAC 2010 utilizing the Australian Joint Military Appreciation Process.

After positive feedback from the CJTF in 2010, Sea Spirit was rewritten for RIMPAC 2012 using the Canadian Forces Operational Planning Process (CFOPP).

“It builds on the ‘Capable, Adaptive Partners’ theme of RIMPAC 2012 as an additional venue to engage our fellow nations in coordinating and developing an operational level of warfare (OLW) plan under a single nation planning process,” said Attaway.

The CJTF concluded Sea Spirit by discussing lessons learned within crisis planning scenario.

“In the end, we all walked away with an enhanced level of knowledge of the CFOPP, while working together as a coalition team,” said Attaway.

“As a principle warfare officer, the skills I’ve learned here are very relevant to my future job,” said Wilson. “It has really assisted me in understanding other navies and operating together.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3 in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Naval Today Staff, July 24, 2012; Image: US Navy