The eighth Valiant Shield naval war games will be held off the coast of Guam between September 14 and 25 and will feature more than 11,000 personnel and more than 100 aircraft, the US Navy said in a Friday news release.
Participants will include Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the first-in-class amphibious assault ship USS America, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown, along with multiple other surface vessels. The exercise will also feature elements from the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps.
“Exercises such as Valiant Shield allow US forces the opportunity to integrate warfighting concepts such as all-domain strike group operations in a joint high end warfare training environment to continuously improve joint lethality,” Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, director of maritime operations for the US Pacific Fleet, said Friday.
“It is vitally important that we demonstrate to our allies and partners our strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The drill comes just weeks after the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises held off the coast of Hawaii that featured navies from nearly a dozen nations. RIMPAC’s scope was significantly subdued compared to past years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Navy noted in the release that “in coordination with military medical personnel and public health personnel, every aspect of Valiant Shield 2020 has been analyzed to ensure the appropriate mitigation measures are taken against COVID-19.”
The US also held several naval drills in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea in recent months involving three different aircraft carriers - a clear message to China that the US intends to back up its objections to Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea with force. Washington has also stepped up maritime bomber patrols and flown multiple daily spy plane missions in the waters off China’s coast.