Eighth Exercise AMAN to Boost Cooperation with World Navies

Pakistan Navy (PN) in order to strengthen cooperation, interoperability, and to display united resolve against asymmetric and traditional threats, would be conducting eighth Multinational Naval Exercise” AMAN” (Together for Peace) from 10 to 14 Feb in the North Arabian Sea. fifty two navies of the world prominent include USA, from Europe, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherland, Turkiye from Far East, China, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, from Africa, Cameron, Ivory coast, Kenya, Djibouti, Morocco, and almost all the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Iran, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are taking part. It is considered as a Blue Diplomacy move by the Pakistan Navy bringing together maritime nations in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond and calling for galvanizing efforts to maintain strong correlations at sea. This time maiden International Maritime Expo and tenth International Maritime Conference (IMEC-23) are being held at Expo Center Karachi in tandem with AMAN. The exercise has been designed to provide a common platform for information sharing, mutual understanding and identifying areas of common interest. Intermixing of multinationals with representation of their respective cultures during cultural shows / food galas. Developing and practicing response tactics, techniques and procedures against traditional and nontraditional threats during sea phase of the exercise.

               The known non-traditional security challenges are terrorism, piracy, human & narcotics trafficking, goods and ammunition smuggling, pollution and ecosystem loss. Environmental threats include climate change, increasing acidity in sea water and its negative effects on marine life, the rise of sea level and its temperature due to global warming. These need collaborative response. Pakistan Navy has always contributed towards peace and stability in the region. PN is participating in US mandated Combine Task Force 150 and 151 since 2004 and 2009 respectively. Similarly, bilateral exercises are regularly carried out with regional and extra regional navies.  

               Indian ocean (IO) is the third largest in the world, hub of major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. These vital sea lanes, facilitate maritime trade in the IO region, carry more than half of the world’s sea-borne oil and host 23 of the world’s top 100 container ports.  China, USA, Japan, South Korea, Europe, Pakistan, and many other nations import substantial amount of their requirements of energy and merchandise imports and exports through this Ocean. Seven choke points in the region, include, Strait of Hormuz, Bab el Mandeb, Suez Canal, Malacca straits, Lombok strait, Sunda strait, and Mozambique channel. Strait of Hormuz is of strategic importance because it provides no alternate route to Gulf, the major source of oil and gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that about 30% of the world’s crude oil and other liquids, as well as 30% of global LNG trade, is moved through this strait. The disruption of any of these choke points have overwhelming effects on the prices of oil and the food security of the world particularly strait of Hormuz and Malacca straits. Pakistan, specifically, Gwadar port occupies strategic location overlooking the Strait of Hormuz and the North Arabian Sea. Pakistan’s 95% of imports / exports and 99% of oil and gas is through sea. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has further enhanced its importance not only for Pakistan but also for China, and other land locked countries like Afghanistan and Central Asian states. Therefore, Pakistan is one of the important stake holders in IO security frame work. The PN, regularly carries out Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP) to safeguard EEZ, other areas of interest and sea lanes which are life line of the trade. Similarly, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) and Coast Guards keep the areas of interest under constant surveillance.

To demonstrate Pakistan’s commitment to peace, project positive image of Pakistan as a country contributing towards regional peace and stability, consolidate PN’s position in the regional maritime arena and to enhance interoperability with regional and extra regional navies, Pakistan Navy took an initiative of holding Multinational Exercise in 2007, which is being conducted biennially. In AMAN-07, 14 x ships from Bangladesh, China, France, Italy, Malaysia, UK and USA navies participated. Overall, 28 countries participated in the exercise with aforesaid assets and 29 observers. The participation of the countries has been increasing in subsequent exercises. In the last AMAN conducted in Feb 2021, 42 countries including USA, UK, China, Russia, and other regional and extra regional countries having otherwise diverse objective participated. This year fifty two navies of the world are taking part. The exercise is divided into Harbor and Sea Phases. Harbor phase include, opening ceremony at PN Dockyard, wreath laying at the mausoleum of the Quaid, friendly sport matches, International Band Display and International Cultural Display and Food Gala will be held. The professional events scheduled are Maritime Counter Terrorism Demonstration by SSG (N) / Pak Marines and Table Top Discussions (TTDs) on professional topics.    Activities at sea include, various exercises to practice response against maritime security threats in multinational environment. In addition, an International Fleet Review (IFR) will be conducted during which several operational activities such as underway replenishment, rocket and depth charge firing, surface firing, fly past by the air units of PN and PAF, and finally man and cheer ship in the honor of the chief guest will be carried out.

This mega multinational exercise AMAN 2023, organized by PN in which countries having diverse objectives otherwise like USA and China are participating is a distinctive occasion. It corroborates Blue Diplomacy move by the Pakistan Navy bringing together maritime nations of the Indian Ocean Region and beyond on a common platform.  It validates the profuse confidence in the professionalism of PN by the regional and extra navies.  The participation of large number of navies endorses peaceful, secure and safe environments in Pakistan. It also postulates that Pakistan enjoys a very respectable status in the comity of nations.

Dr. Anjum Sarfraz
Dr. Anjum Sarfraz
the author is Cdre (retd) former Senior Research Fellow, at NIMA And SVI Islamabad