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2 Aircraft Carriers, F-35s and Warships: The Valiant Shield 22 Drill is a Warning to China

F/A-18 on Aircraft Carrier Deck.
A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet launches with after burners aglow from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) operating in the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 15, 2004. The Hornet is with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232.

Valiant Shield 22, Explained – As tensions with China over Taiwan continue to build, the U.S. military is holding a large-scale training event in the Indo-Pacific with an eye toward Beijing. 

The drill has everything. From F-35 Lighting II stealth fighter jets to carrier strike operations to antisubmarine warfare to cyber and space warfare, Valiant Shield 22 is one of the biggest maritime and aviation exercises in the Indo-Pacific. 

Valiant Shield 22

From June 6 to June 17, the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet, which is responsible for the Indo-Pacific area of operations, is holding the Valiant Shield 22 exercise in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex.

Valiant Shield 22 is focused on two Carrier Strike Groups: the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). 

In total, Valiant Shield 22 includes 15 surface warfare ships, more than 200 fighter, attack, reconnaissance, and support fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, and around 13,000 troops from the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Space Force. 

“VS22 is a U.S.-only, biennial field training exercise (FTX) focused on the integration of joint training in a multi-domain environment. This training builds real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. Exercises like VS22 allow forces across the Indo-Pacific the opportunity to integrate Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Space Force, and Special Operations to train in precise, lethal, and overwhelming multi-axis, multi-domain effects that demonstrate the strength and versatility of the Joint Force,” the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet said in a press release

In addition to the two aircraft carriers, the USS Tripoli amphibious landing ship, the I and III Marine Expeditionary Forces, the Air Force’s 36th Wing, and the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) are participating in the training event.

Exercise Valiant Shield first began in 2006, and this is the ninth iteration of the large-scale drill. 

“VS22 FTX prepares the Joint Force to rapidly respond to crises and contingencies across the spectrum of operations from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to armed conflict. VS22 assists U.S. forces in developing regional and global power projection capabilities. Integrated training provides a full range of options to succeed in defense of U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners around the world,” the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet added. 

The Chinese Factor 

Over the past few years, the Chinese military has really ramped up the pressure in the Indo-Pacific, especially against Taiwan. This is a result of a sweeping modernization effort that seeks to make the Chinese military the regional power in the waters and skies of the Indo-Pacific. Although Beijing is still some way off that goal, it is reaching it in strides. 

Exercises like Valiant Shield 22 offer realistic opportunities to test and develop concepts and tactics, techniques, and procedures to be used in real combat. 

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

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