Navy officer at the centre of RIMPAC planning

With the safe and successful execution of the world’s largest Navy exercise comes a huge planning effort involving thousands of personnel from 26 participant nations.

CAPTION: Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 coordinator Lieutenant Commander James Dobson on the wharf at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. Story by Lieutenant Max Logan. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

The key player behind that planning was Lieutenant Commander James Dobson – the embedded Royal Australian Navy officer at the United States Third Fleet.

Third Fleet were the lead force for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 and Lieutenant Commander Dobson was the coordinator for all 26 participant nations.

Lieutenant Commander Dobson said the safe and successful completion of RIMPAC was the culmination of an 18-month process comprising four different planning conferences and a lot of hard work in between.

“Some of the biggest challenges that I’ve had in helping coordinate and plan RIMPAC were the language barriers and the sheer number of people that we interacted with to try and get the exercise both built, and then finally executed,” he said.

“There are a lot of learning objectives and national objectives that nations wanted to get out of the exercise – it’s an incredibly long way to come.

“And overall, throughout the execution of the exercise, we’ve not seen anything significant that has impacted either the training objectives of any nation or any hurdles that specific nations have had to get through in order to be able to successfully partake.”

The effective planning of RIMPAC became evident as ships converged on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii, ready to conduct realistic, relevant training that increased participants’ abilities to plan, communicate and conduct complex maritime operations within a multinational force.

“Our theme in RIMPAC 2022 is ‘capable adaptive partners’ – being able to draw all 26 nations together to really understand what the exercise is about and be able to get them to work together was absolutely incredible,” Lieutenant Commander Dobson said.

“A significant highlight I got out of RIMPAC was meeting and interacting with some countries that as the Royal Australian Navy, we don’t interact with on a regular basis.”

Another highlight for both planners and participants of RIMPAC was enjoying periods of leave ashore in Hawaii, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, which restricted many of Navy’s overseas port visits in the last few years.

“It has been really heartening to see all of the participant nations being able to get ashore,” Lieutenant Commander Dobson said.

“Hawaii offers a unique training environment where we can conduct RIMPAC as well as a plethora of activities that people can get after including hiking, snorkelling, and diving.

“At a personal level, it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to integrate with these nations, to be able to hear what they’ve thoroughly enjoyed about the exercise, and to hear their enthusiasm about attending future RIMPACs.”





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