As the Russo-Ukrainian war continues to rage on through its 100th day, things are getting frosty over with RIMPAC. Twenty-six countries headed by the United States will be conducting Exercise RIMPAC 2022 from June 29 to August 4 in what is the world’s biggest naval exercise to date.

It has been reported that the exercise will be composed of some 38 surface ships, four submarines, and 170 aircraft from all QUAD members, namely India, Japan, Australia, and the US, as well as five Southeast Asian nations that all have their scores to settle with China namely: the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. They will also be joined by Tonga, a country that has been engaging with China. Nine land forces comprising 25,000 personnel will also be part of the drill.

Here is the complete list of all countries participating:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of the Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Tonga
  • the United Kingdom
  • the United States

First held in 1971, today’s RIMPAC is important as a show of international solidarity as China continues to be aggressive in the region. With islands and areas continually being contested in the South China Sea, increased aggression against Taiwan in its pursuit to “reunify” it with the mainland, and a new security pact with the Solomon Islands, the exercise will primarily be about building stronger relationships and cooperation with allies in the Pacific, as well as around the world.

“As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s interconnected oceans,” says the US 3rd Fleet.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), foreground, steams with international Navy ships during a photo exercise off the coast of Hawaii during the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, July 26, 2018. Twenty-five nations, more than 45 ships, submarines, about 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel participate in RIMPAC from June 27 to August 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships between participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class ZA Landers/Released).

But we all know that the exercises aren’t just about fostering good relations with our allies. It will also act as a stern warning to China, showing them that the US, along with its allies, is prepared to rise to the occasion if tensions escalate.

China has increasingly been annoyed and angered by the US presence in the region, arguably the only naval force that has the capacity to keep China at bay with its expansionism. It is noteworthy that both the QUAD (Australia, India, Japan, and the US) and AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are part of the exercise as these groups are actively cooperating with one another to maintain regional stability in the Pacific, as well as to share resources and technology respectively.

China, who has been wary of the two groups, has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the groups, accusing the US of building an “Asian NATO” and engaging in Cold War-type tactics against China, describing the move as an “Anglo-Saxon clique.”