2:00 P.M. EDT
THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MR. STRIKE: Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Today we have Vice Admiral Kenneth Floyd, the RIMPAC 2014 Combined Task Force Commander, who is here to deliver a teleconference briefing on RIMPAC 2014: a multinational maritime exercise. Without further ado, here is the Admiral.
VADM FLOYD: Hey. Well, good morning, everybody, and thanks for that, Andy. Kenny Floyd here. In my day job, I’m the 3rd Fleet commander, but for two years – for every couple of years, I’m the – I get to come be the RIMPAC commander. We’ve been planning for RIMPAC 2014 now for just about two years. And I got to say, I’m pretty excited to go ahead and get this thing underway here in the next week or so. We’re doing a lot of work here in port – briefings, getting to know each other, schedule of events, this kind of work – and then all the ships will get underway next year – next week. I’m already thinking down the road for the next RIMPAC.
At any rate, I wanted to – I did want to tell you about my staff, the leadership team for RIMPAC this year. I, of course, will serve as the commander for the overall exercise. My vice commander is Rear Admiral Yasuki Nakahata from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. My deputy commander is Rear Admiral Simon Cullen from the Royal Australian Navy. Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier is the – is from the Royal Canadian Navy, and he will lead the maritime component. Air Commodore Chris Westwood from the Royal Australian Air Force is the air component commander. Major General Richard Simcock from the United States Marine Corps will lead the land component. We have Captain Will Stevens here who’s a U.S. Navy SEAL, and he’s going to lead the first-ever special operations component here at RIMPAC.
And I stood up a new commander this year that – I call it task force energy and environment. And that’s Rear Admiral Rick Williams here at – he’s the normal – his day job is the regional commander here in Hawaii.
So we still have a lot of work ahead of us. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve already started here in port and we’ll get underway next week. There’s still a lot of hard work yet to go, but overall when we’re – at the end of the day, we’re going to have completed some valuable training. And personally, I’m really honored to have the opportunity to lead 25,000 sailors and – well, really, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsmen from 22 different countries that make up our team this year.
So with that, I’ll give the time back over to you, Andy. And I’m more interested in what’s on your all’s minds this morning.
MR. STRIKE: Okay, folks, it’s time – we can move over to the Q and A portion of the event. Please press *1 to get yourself into the question queue.
QUESTION: Have the question?
MR. STRIKE: Oh, actually, we’ll take one – I’ll take our first question here from People’s Daily of China here in the room with us in Washington. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hello, sir. My name’s [Zhengjun] Liao with People’s Daily of China. I have a few question with – for you. The – I mean, as we know, China is the first time to participate in RIMPAC. And my question to you is like: What would be the significance for this RIMPAC exercise?
And second one is: Would you mind to give us a brief introduction the – what areas would China participating?
And the third one is like: What kind of cooperation the U.S. side want to have with China through this exercise? Thank you so much.
VADM FLOYD: Okay, yeah. Thanks for that question. We’re – I’m always happy to have new countries show up at RIMPAC. This year we have, of course, China, as you well know. We also have Brunei is here. They’ve brought two of their ships as well.
To your question of what significance, it’s absolutely significant. I think the whole world is watching RIMPAC this year. And it’s about our cooperation, as you mention.
The specific areas, I can probably get you a little bit more on that. But China is going to be participating in medical exchanges. That’s going on right now. Actually, in fact, I think it started this morning with their – with the hospital ship, Peace Ark, working kind of as the basis with our – the U.S. hospital ship, Mercy. I was down on Peace Ark a couple of days ago. It’s a beautiful ship, really great capability. And I believe they brought over – that China has brought over 40 doctors to participate in this. And then there’s doctors and medical staff from all the other 22 nations that are participating in the medical exchange going on now.
Now, as part of the medical exchange, they’ll talk about humanitarian assistance, disaster relief. That’s probably the – that’s the most likely areas that we will drop in together and operate in the future, I think, in the real world.
And then once we get out to sea, they will do some gunnery exercises. We’ll work some counter-piracy. They also have their explosive ordinance disposal. Their dive teams are here. So there is really a pretty well-rounded list of things that China is participating in over the – gosh, there’s over 2,000 different events, I think, and they’re in a pretty good chunk of them.
QUESTION: And what kind of cooperation you think the U.S. side would want to have through this exercise?
VADM FLOYD: Well, I like to say that it’s all about building relationships. And the relationships span the – span oceans and span years. And so all of the – all of the youngsters that are here today from the People’s Republic of China, Brunei, as well as the other 20 nations, they’re going to go away and they’re going to remember RIMPAC and that they got to know each other.
And then in the future when we meet each other on the high seas, we might recognize faces, but we’ll certainly recognize – or remember how we work together, and I think that will serve us well in the future.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
MR. STRIKE: Okay. Let’s take our next question from Jane’s.
Apologies. It looks like Jane’s has dropped off. We’ll take our next question from China Daily. Please go ahead, China Daily.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Amy [He, China Daily, China]. I was wondering: What do you think China’s participation here has for military cooperation implications for the U.S., China going forward? Thank you.
ADM FLOYD: Okay, yeah. Thanks for the question. The – that’s what RIMPAC is all about, is cooperating with each other. And we’re lucky this year to have 22 nations. And I think that – as I talked about just a second ago, I think that in the future we will know each other better, having operated in a group of nations, and that when we meet on the high seas, we’ll be able to recognize faces, and we’ll remember the times we spent at RIMPAC, and I think that it’ll just make for better cooperation in the future at sea.
MR. STRIKE: Okay. We’ll take our next question from Jiji Press of Japan.
QUESTION: Thanks, Andy. Can you guys hear me?
MR. STRIKE: Yep.
QUESTION: Thanks, Admiral. [Nico Pandi, JiJi Press, Japan] I was wondering if you could describe the atmosphere of this year’s exercise, with China being there, as it compares with previous RIMPACs. Is there like a heightened sense of excitement or pressure? If you could just describe, like, the feeling there now in Hawaii as it gets underway, for those of us who can’t be there.
VADM FLOYD: Well, you know, every RIMPAC’s different, I guess. My impression this time is that it’s going very well. There’s been a lot of get-togethers, or there’s usually some kind of a reception every night that everyone is participating in – lots of smiles, lots of handshakes, lots of ball caps and whatnot going back and forth. And as I mentioned earlier, I’m always excited to have new countries participate in RIMPAC, but it – I’m also very happy to have the ones such as Canada and Australia that have been with us forever, or since the beginning of the exercise, and then Japan is the next, I think, for the longest-serving, and thus, Admiral Nakahata as part of the leadership this year.
So I would say the atmosphere is great, actually. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I’m really looking forward to getting underway and doing some work out at sea.
MR. STRIKE: Okay. We’ll take our next question from China Review of Hong Kong. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. My name is Donghui Yu with China Review News Agency, [Hong Kong]. Last October, eight congressmen wrote a letter to Secretary Hagel asking to include Taiwan into RIMPAC. What’s the Pentagon’s and the U.S. military position on this issue? Thank you.
VADM FLOYD: I think that both maintaining and deepening our unofficial relations with Taiwan is an important part of how the United States engages in Asia. It’s certainly a region of great and growing importance to our country. Taiwan has not previously observed or participated in RIMPAC, and the decision this year to continue focusing really on other venues for supporting Taiwan’s development of defensive capabilities was made independently, really, of the decision to extend an invitation to the People’s Republic of China.
MR. STRIKE: Okay. Now I’ll guess we’ll go to Jane’s. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thanks, Andy. Good morning, Admiral. My name’s Kelvin [Wong]. I’m from IHS Jane’s, International Defense Review. I have at least a two-parter question for you.
First up, will the U.S. Navy be showcasing any new or novel technologies during this particular RIMPAC exercise? And the second part is, in RIMPAC 2012, the Great Green Fleet demonstrated that biofuel blends and energy-efficient technologies can be employed in an operational setting. Will RIMPAC 2014 feature similar energy-saving technologies?
VADM FLOYD: Okay, thanks for that. Great questions, and I’m glad you asked it, because I probably should have said earlier that part of RIMPAC this year is going on off the coast of California, as well.
We have nine ships and six countries participating off the coast of Southern California, doing largely some mine – some mine countermeasures and some diving. But this year we’re going to showcase the littoral combat ship, USS Independence. LCS-2 is en route to Honolulu right now and will participate as part of the – of the exercise. And we’re really looking forward to that. Back to the – off the coast, we have one of our new MLP ships, a Mobile Landing Platform ship, participating via off of Camp Pendleton. We’ll do some – do some work there.
We have a series of experiments that we call Trident Warrior. You may have heard that term before. It’s an annual set of – I wouldn’t really say experiments, but it’s kind of exercising our new equipment and new ideas. And we do that in combination with the Naval Warfare Development Command. And I think there’s over 30 different initiatives that we’re going to – that we’re going to showcase here at RIMPAC. And that is across the spectrum of naval warfare, everything from – gosh, I don’t know – air defense to computer defense.
The Marine Corps Warfare Lab is also here. They’re – and they’re doing a number of experiments. And command and control is the only one that’s really coming to me right now. But there’s a number of things going on there as well. To the second part of your question, I mentioned when we first got started that I’d set up a commander this year to do – I’m calling it task force energy and environment. And it’s being led by Rear Admiral Rick Williams, the regional commander here in San Diego.
As you mentioned, we did biofuels, we kind of did – we called it the Great Green Fleet back in 2012, and in 2016, we’re going to be – we’re working towards doing a deployment with the Great Green Fleet. So in the meantime, we wanted to continue to do some work with energy and efficiency at sea, biofuels and whatnot, as well as shipboard energy conservation. So Rick will be running a series of events that looks at how we would – how we might get even better at what we’re doing as far as that goes.
So it’s – I think there’s a lot going on in the realm of experimentation both in technology as well as energy. And of course, we’re – the Navy really cares about the environment not only here in Hawaii but everywhere, so that’s part of Rick’s bailiwick as well.
OPERATOR: Okay, I’m showing about a half dozen callers still on the line, but there’s no one currently in the question queue. If you’d like to ask a question, please press *1 and get in the queue. Thank you.
Okay, let’s let this be a last call for questions. If you’d like to participate in this teleconference, please ask your question now.
Okay, if there are no more questions, this event is now concluded. Thank you for attending.
ADM FLOYD: Thank you very much, Andy.
MR. STRIKE: Thank you.
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