PHILIPPINE SEA -- Naval forces from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.S. concluded a nine-day multilateral, multinational annual exercise (ANNUALEX) in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 30, 2021.
Led by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), this year’s ANNUALEX concluded with a joint press conference with Vice Adm. Hideki Yuasa, chief of the JMSDF Fleet, and Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, hosted on Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
"Throughout ANNUALEX, the JMSDF have improved our bilateral response capability and interoperability with the U.S. Navy, as well as deepened our mutual understanding and cooperation with the Australian, Canadian and German navies,” said Vice Adm. Hideki Yuasa, Commander in Chief, Self Defense Fleet, JMSDF. “The relationship between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy has never been stronger, which contributes to our strengthening the response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance while building a global partnership.”
During ANNUALEX 2021, the five participating international navies included the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), German Navy (GMN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and U.S. Navy.
“The foundational success of ANNUALEX is rooted in our alliances and partnerships,” said Thomas. “Cooperation among like-minded countries and regional partners underscores our commitment to high seas freedoms and the rule of law, which is imperative to ensure a free and open regional order. We look forward to further strengthening the bonds between our nations and our navies.”
The focus of this year’s ANNUALEX was strengthening collective readiness and maritime superiority, with unique opportunities for interoperability, advanced integrated training and high-end fighting strategies. Training conducted during the exercise included enhanced planning, advanced maritime communication operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, live-fire gunnery events, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations and maritime interdiction operations.
“These operations are part of the U.S. Navy’s routine presence throughout the Indo-Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1. “Regularly exercising and operating with our allies and partners strengthens our relationships and fortifies our trust in one another. As a multinational team, we can deter aggression, guarantee regional peace and stability, and remain a skilled and ready force, able to respond to any regional crisis or contingency.”
This year’s ANNUALEX also included the exercise’s first-ever combined information warfare (IW) events during which the navies worked together on integrated command and control systems, collaborative threat and environmental assessments, and electromagnetic emission control measures.
The IW events kicked off with a pre-sail IW conference between JMSDF and U.S. IW leaders, conducted on JMSDF Izumo-class multi-purpose Destroyer Izumo (DDH 183).
"We have been conducting [information warfare] IW between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy, but the exercise was the first time for Japan and the U.S. to conduct bilateral IW activities,” said Capt. Takahashi, JMSDF IW commander. `“The Japanese and U.S. IW teams share the same IW fighting style, and we were able to conduct a smooth bilateral exercise. In the future, Japan and the U.S. will work even more closely together to enhance the effectiveness of IW and to build a stronger alliance.
Capt. Tony Butera, IW commander for CSG 1, said that ANNUALEX 2021 would not be the last time the two navies will work so closely together on IW.
“Our navies and nations are committed to sharing best information warfare practices, not just during exercises, but constantly," said Butera. “As we employ high-end, multi-domain warfighting tactics in the maritime environment, we are more and more focused on enhancing a shared tactical operating picture and assured secure communications within a competitive battlespace. The U.S. Navy and JMSDF fully understand the growing importance of IW and its role in modern warfare.”
Since arriving in the U.S. 7th Fleet region in early September, CSG 1 units have participated in several multi-carrier and multi-national operations and exercises including MALABAR 2021 Phase II and Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) 2021.
CSG 1 is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.