ASEAN Nations Kick Off Navy Drills with the United States
Eight warships, four aircraft and more than 1,000 personnel from the
US and 10 Southeast Asian countries joined maritime drills kicking off on Monday, as part of a joint exercise extending into the flashpoint South China Sea. The first Asean-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX) between the regional bloc and Washington lasts for five days, starting at the Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand and ending in Singapore, AFP via South China Morning Post reported.
Co-led by the US and Royal Thai navies, the exercises will stretch into "international waters in Southeast Asia, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea" before concluding in Singapore, according to a statement from the US embassy in Bangkok.
"AUMX builds greater maritime security on the strength of ASEAN, the strength of our navy-to-navy bonds, and the strength of our shared belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Rear Admiral Joey Tynch, who oversees the US Navy's security cooperation in Southeast Asia.
All 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will take part in the exercises which include the boarding of target vessels to simulate search and seizure.
“The exercise is not focused or dedicated against or towards anyone else. It’s to enhance the skills of Asean and the US working together,” he told reporters in a telephone briefing Tuesday, as quoted by Inquirer.
“The challenges we face in the maritime domain extend beyond what any single nation can handle, and that’s where partners and allies are force multipliers for peace and interoperability,” he said. “That’s an unparalleled advantage that no competitor or rival can match. I fully believe we are stronger when we sail together.”