During the COVID-19 pandemic, not only will the U.S. military have the largest maritime military maneuvers in the world, with Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) coming to the waters off Hawaii August 17-31, 2020 bringing 26 nations, 25,000 military personnel, up to 50 ships and submarines and hundreds of aircraft in midst of a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, but the U.S. Army is having a 6,000 person war game in June 2020 in Poland. The State of Hawaii has the most stringent measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in Hawaii — returning residents as well as visitors. This quarantine is required until at least June 30, 2020.
If these weren’t too many military operations during an epidemic in which personnel on 40 U.S. Navy ships have come down with the hyper-contagious COVID-19 and military personnel and their families have been told not to travel, plans are underway for a U.S. Army division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific region in less than a year — in 2021. Known as Defender 2021, the U.S. Army has requested $364 million to conduct the war exercises throughout Asian and Pacific countries.
The pivot to the Pacific, begun under the Obama administration, and now under the Trump administration, is reflected in a U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) that sees the world as “a great power competition rather than counter-terrorism and has formulated its strategy to confront China as a long-term, strategic competitor.”
This month, May 2020, the U.S. Navy in support of the Pentagon’s “free and open Indo-Pacific ” policy aimed at countering China’s expansionism in the South China Sea and as a show of force to counter ideas that the capabilities of U.S. Navy forces have been reduced by COVID-19, sent at least seven submarines, including all four Guam-based attack submarines, several Hawaii-based ships and the San Diego-based USS Alexandria to the Western Pacific in what the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force announced publicly that all of its forward-deployed subs were simultaneously conducting “contingency response operations.”
The U.S. military force structure in the Pacific will be changed to meet the National Defense Strategy’s perceived threat from China,