The eighth edition of the five-day AMAN-23 multinational naval exercises kicked off in the Arabian Sea on Friday. The event, which is hosted by Pakistan, included naval vessels, aircraft, special operations forces, marines, and sailors from around 50 countries participating. Held every two years, this event is focused on promoting maritime security with the assistance of regional and international partners to confront piracy and terrorism, but also to stop the flow of narcotics and arms trafficking, and further confront climate change. Its motto is “Together for Peace” – as AMAN means “Peace” in Sanskrit and Urdu.
While this year’s exercise includes vessels and other elements from the navies of the United States, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Sir Lanka, Bangladesh, and numerous African Union nations, this year it also saw an element of China’s People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) take part. Beijing deployed the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Nanning, along with a vessel-borne helicopter and dozens of marines.
“In this exercise, we are mainly participating in tactical exchanges in the harbor, ship exhibition, live-fire shooting, counterterrorism, anti-piracy operations, and search and rescue, among other tactical courses,” Qiu Maoxuan, captain of the Nanning, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the exercise.
The exercises, which run through Tuesday, were meant to feature two components with harbor and sea phases – with the former featuring seminars, operational discussions, demonstrations, and pre-sail planning, while the second has included tactical maneuvers related to maritime security including anti-piracy and counter-terrorism drills, as well as search and rescue operations. AMAN-23 further helps to demonstrate a unified resolve against maritime terrorism and other prevalent illicit activities at sea.
Closer Ties Between China and Pakistan
The inclusion of a Chinese warship in the AMAN-23 exercises was not unexpected, as China and Pakistan have maintained close naval and maritime exchanges and cooperation in recent years.
Pakistan is also procuring four advanced Type 054A/P frigates from Beijing, and the first two vessels – the PNS Tughril and PNS Taimur – were commissioned into the Pakistan Navy in December 2021 and June 2022 respectively, while the remaining two warships will join the fleet later this year.
“China is our best friend and an essential power to guarantee peace and security for the sea in the future,” said a Pakistani liaison officer of the exercise, before the official beginning of the exercise. “China-Pakistan friendship will make the sea more peaceful and secure. The Pakistan Navy (PN) has been in cooperation with its Chinese counterpart, and the trend will be strengthened in the future.”
The exercises are also unique in that they include both U.S. Navy officials in observance, while a Chinese warship is taking part. Tensions remain high between Washington and Beijing following the U.S. Air Force shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this month, while at least three more similar objects were also shot down this past weekend. In addition, the U.S. has been holding naval drills in the South China Sea.
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.