The great manoeuvres of 2017 and 2018 - a series

„A contemplation“ (3)

Horst Pleiner

In the West-Pacific-Far-East region the spheres of interest of the USA, the Peoples’ Republic of China and Russia collide, whereas admittedly slowly developing, but also disturbing factors play a considerable role, such as the nuclear aspects of North Korea, the permanent tensions concerning the status of Taiwan, the access of the Peoples’ Republic of China to the archipelago in the South Chinese Ocean, the differences between Japan and the Peoples’ Republic of China concerning the Senkaku Islands, as well as between Japan and Russia concerning one of the Curillin Islands. But also the subtle developments connected to the project of a new Silk Road with a transcontinental “railway line” and the efforts for the influence in the sea harbours at the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, do not only create enthusiasm. Additionally, the consequences of the decreasing economic growth of the Peoples’ Republic of China as well as the increasing total control of its population, together with a difficult social situation of a still “migrating” part of the population cannot be estimated, neither. While rapidly growing India with its population appears to endeavour after underpin a stronger position in its maritime periphery, the USA are measuring out major relevance to the strongholds between Djibouti and Okinawa, and behind them, in a second line in the region mentioned above. Inherent is the far eastern part of Russia, which appears to feel – at least subjectively – hassled, if not “encircled”, by the USA again. In the whole region, one can detect obvious rearmament, or at least a modernization of the services considered substantial, and the development of innovative missile systems for attacking mobile ship targets beyond the neighbouring archipelago has contributed to increase the intensity of military manoeuvres in 2017 already, and in most cases has given them a strategic background. The author describes a series of great manoeuvres in the Far East and South East Asian region of 2017/2018. Thus, for instance, the trilateral manoeuvre series “Malabar” of July 2017 and 2018, with the constellation of Indian, Japanese and American naval forces, near the eastern coast of southern India. Since 1971 already, every two years the manoeuvres “RIMPAC” have been taking place under the overall responsibility of the US Command of the Pacific Fleet. This latest one lasted from the end of June until the beginning of August 2018, took place in the extended ocean area around the Hawaiian Islands with traditional components of the U.S. Navy, the adjacent states of the Pacific, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. National Guard and the Royal Navy. First, a potential invasion of Taiwan by armed forces of the Peoples’ Republic of China was suspected by some media as the background of these manoeuvres, but officially nothing of the sort was expressed.

From the beginning of July until 18th September 2018, a manoeuvre called „Wostok 2018“ took place, with its climax between 11th and 18th September, under the command of the minister of defence Sergej Schoigu as well as of the Russian general staff Moscow with the staff of the “National Defence Centre”, covering the entire Far East theatre of war.