Royal Navy Head: UK pledged to operate more in the Indo-Pacific with the US and its allies

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HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) first visits West Scotland on March 20, 2021. Photo by the Royal Navy

WASHINGTON, DC – The UK plans to have a larger British presence in the Indo-Pacific region as it endorses a recent security assessment that calls for a pivot to Asia, the Senior Admiral said on Wednesday. of the Royal Navy.

While the United States has for several years emphasized a focused strategy on the Indo-Pacific and a military threat from China, the United Kingdom in March released a strategic document that calls for its own passage in region and specifically identifies China as a competitor.

“I think we have been very clear in our integrated review that, from a security perspective, we see Russia as a separate threat and we see China as a challenge and a competitor,” the First Sea Lord Adm. Tony Radakin. at the US Navy Museum.

“And I think when we talk about a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific, it’s about recognizing the economic weight of the Indo-Pacific. By 2040 to 2050, 40% of global GDP will be hosted in this region. We are therefore an outward-looking maritime trading nation with interests all over the world. And therefore, we reach out and follow those interests. And that to me – it’s incredibly normal. It is part of our country’s history and trade traditions. And that’s what’s happening with the Indo-Pacific.

Radakin is in Washington, DC, as the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS queen elizabeth (R08) launches its first deployment, which will mark a growing British presence in the region.

Chief of Maritime Staff Adm. Hiroshi Yamamura, left, Senior Sea Lord Adm. Tony Radakin, and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday sign a trilateral Joint Chief of Navy statement on board from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), ​​near Annapolis, Md., November 20, 2019. US Navy Photo

“There will certainly be an increased naval presence in the Indo-Pacific, but we will continue to be strong in the Euro-Atlantic area. We will continue to assume our responsibilities in the Falklands, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Gulf. But as our integrated review indicated, the UK is leaning more towards the Indo-Pacific, ”Radakin told reporters.

“And that straddles the whole defense, and for the [U.K.] Navy, that is to say at the western end of the Indian Ocean, we are looking to have a group ready for the coastline, therefore our navies, operating at this end of the Indian Ocean so that we can strengthen our partnership with India, ”he continued. “We are reaching out to our Gulf countries. We use our territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean – the British Indian Ocean territories in Diego Garcia – and go down to East Africa. But then we also go further east and build on the relationships we already have.

The UK review not only underscored the importance of the Indo-Pacific, but also used 2030 as a time horizon, as the US Marine Corps did with its force design initiative. .

“The intensification of competition between the great powers is unlikely to mean a return to Cold War-type blocs. Instead, the influence of middle powers is likely to grow in the 2020s, especially when they act together, ”the review read. “In this context, the Indo-Pacific will have growing geopolitical and economic importance, with multiple regional powers with significant weight and influence, both alone and together. Competition will be played out there in regional militarization, maritime tensions and a competition over rules and standards related to trade and technology.

queen elizabethThe first deployment includes a mixed air wing of US and UK Marine F-35Bs and a multinational strike group heading to the Indo-Pacific.

US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 Wake Island Avengers and Royal Air Force 617 Squadron “The Dambusters” aboard the aircraft carrier constitute the largest F-35 deployment to date.

“We’re going to learn a lot about how we use this fifth generation ability in ways that we may not have even imagined yet. Every time we have a pilot doing an sortie in one of these planes, he comes back with more information on how we can use them with the fourth generation, for example, how we can use them with allies. and partners ”. said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday.

“And so I think there is of course an element of interoperability to that, but also, I think, an element of interchangeability in the future, in terms of the how. . . planes from both Marines and the Marine Corps work together. “

The United States and United Kingdom have placed an emphasis on interoperability and interchangeability between their militaries leading to the deployment of queen elizabeththe multinational carrier strike group, which includes the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) and the destroyer USS of the US Navy The Sullivans (DDG-68).

HMS Vigilant (S30). Royal Navy Photo

“We use the term interoperability, so that we have shared communication systems. We can share information in the battlespace. We can use each other’s business units. When we talk about interchangeability, it’s on another level again, ”Radakin said. “And it’s not only with jets, aircraft carriers and escort ships, but also our nuclear submarines – that we have shared missions in the North Atlantic, where it could be ‘a US Navy submarine, it could be a Royal Navy submarine.

The partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom extends to the United States Coast Guard. While the Coast Guard is already working with the British in the Caribbean on anti-drug operations, the service has also recently operated with the UK in the Arctic, where US officials are concerned about Russian and Chinese activities. .

“We were recently in the Arctic with our North Star. We had two British Royal Navy sailors from HMS Protective (A173) on board, we therefore share our interest in the high latitudes, the polar regions, ”the commander of the US Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schultz, told reporters. “And we have an exchange program – an engineering exchange program. We have Coast Guard engineers serving in the fleet, they are going to be part of the carrier strike group.

Soon the Coast Guard will re-launch an air exchange with the British, Schultz said.

“We had this for many years and then when the Royal Navy left the search and rescue business it fell apart in 2016,” Schultz said. “But we report it and we’ll use the airborne force for law enforcement missions – we’re going to sign that next week, I believe, here in Washington.”

Gilday said the US Navy has been sailing the Arctic region more frequently recently, and often does so with the UK, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

“It is not uncommon for a British ship to escort an American flagged vessel through the Strait of Hormuz or the Bab el-Mandeb. And so, we do it for each other quite often. In the Indo-Pacific, our relationships with our allies and partners – we sail and sail together every day. So not a week goes by when we don’t do half a dozen exercises or operations with allies and partners.



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