Navy’s Aman drill grows to host 45 countries

Published February 9, 2021
REAR Admiral Naveed Ashraf speaking to journalists during a press conference on Monday.—PPI
REAR Admiral Naveed Ashraf speaking to journalists during a press conference on Monday.—PPI

KARACHI: The seventh edition of the multinational maritime exercise Aman-2021 will be held in Karachi and in Pakistan waters from Feb 11 to 16.

It was announced by Pakistan Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Naveed Ashraf during a media briefing held at the Pakistan Navy Fleet Headquarters here on Monday.

“With a resolve against terrorism and piracy, carrying high the slogan of ‘Together for Peace’, the Aman Exercise is conducted by the Pakistan Navy after every two years in the form of a collaboration between the navies of various countries to maintain a safe and sustainable maritime realm and, above all, enhance interoperability between regional and extra-regional navies,” said Rear Admiral Ashraf.

With around 45 countries participating in the exercise along with their surface and air assets, special operation forces/ marine teams, senior officers and observers, Aman-2021 will have two phases: a harbour phase and a sea phase.

Fleet commander says the weeklong maritime exercise is all about bridging gaps for peace

“Harbour activities would include seminars, discussions, demonstrations and international get-togethers, while the sea phase would demonstrate tactical manoeuvres on anti-piracy, counterterrorism, gunnery firing and search and rescue missions. The hallmark of the sea phase would be the international fleet review, which will be witnessed by national and foreign dignitaries from one of Pakistan Navy’s bigger ships,” he said.

“Like any maritime nation, Pakistan has substantial stakes in the maritime domain. Our interest in safer and crime-free seas is rooted into three conspicuous realities — our extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade, making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project operational and our strategic location astride the global energy highway,” the Pakistan Fleet Commander pointed out.

“Together, these realities make maritime stability an important agenda of our national security. Maritime security is not only important for Pakistan, but also for all other countries whose prosperity and progress are strongly bonded with the seas. While operating together, we must be mindful that contemporary global maritime environment remains fraught with traditional and non-traditional challenges which require collaborative response by friendly navies. No country can single-handedly tackle the diverse threats that exist in the seas,” he said.

Rear Admiral Ashraf also highlighted that Pakistan Navy being a firm believer in the concept of having collaborative maritime security had been actively participating in maritime and counter-piracy operations along with other partner navies since 2004.

“Since 2018, Pakistan Navy has been undertaking regional maritime security patrols, in which our ships maintain near permanent presence in vital sea areas in the Indian Ocean Region to contribute towards maintaining good order at sea.

“Aman Exercise provides enormous opportunities to the participants for contriving the contours of such a collective response. In this regard, Aman-2021 is an effort to foster regional camaraderie, boost interoperability and exhibit a ‘united resolve against multifaceted threats,” he said, adding that Aman-2021 would provide a common forum for information-sharing, mutual understanding and identifying of areas of common interest for all participating navies to achieve the mutual goal of maintaining stability, peace and prosperity at sea.

“The exercise is a reflection that nations can play a constructive role in building new ties, establishing innovative relationships while strengthening existing ones.”

He also underlined that the Aman Exercise, through the years, had been all about bridging gaps and making it possible to operate together in pursuance of common objectives. Hence the motto: ‘Together for Peace’.

In reply to a question about the Covid-19 pandemic and if it has deterred any country from taking part in the exercise this time, the Pakistan Fleet Commander said the Aman Exercise had only grown in participation and the pandemic had not stopped that this time as well.

“In 2007, when the first edition was held, we started with 32 countries and now we are 45,” he said while mentioning some of the countries such as Russia, the US, the UK and other countries from Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, which had confirmed their participation. “Some countries also send late confirmations so we are expecting more,” he added.

As for the pandemic, he said they had gone to great lengths in view of everyone’s remaining safe and healthy. “Care will be taken to enforce all standard operating procedures. To ensure requisite distance, the events will be held at outdoor venues,” he added.

Answering another question about Russia’s participation this time, Rear Admiral Ashraf said they would be participating with three ships this time. “The Black Sea Fleet is heading here right now,” he said.

“We already have the Arabian Monsoon Exercise with Russia, which is a bilateral exercise,” he added.

China and Turkey were other countries with which Pakistan enjoyed good country-to-country and navy-to-navy relations, he said. “We have got ships, submarines and sensors from China. Some ships and units have come here from China and some are being constructed in collaboration with China at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Limited here,” he said.

“Similarly, with Turkey we also have joint exercises, bilateral visits and ship building collaborations,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2021

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