Pakistan Navy is all set to hold the sixth Aman-19 exercise in February 2019 in the North Arabian Sea. AMAN is an Urdu word meaning “Peace” and slogan of AMAN exercise is “Together for Peace”. It signifies Pakistan’s endeavor for peace in the region, along with its friends, allies, and partners, while remaining fully prepared otherwise. The concept behind these exercises is to share information, enhance mutual understanding and identifying the areas of common interests for the navies participating in the exercise with emphasis on maritime security operations, counter-terrorism operations and humanitarian assistance operations in order to develop and practice response tactics techniques and procedures for maritime infrastructures, assets and forces against traditional & non-traditional threats and Intermingling of multinationals with depiction of their respective cultures.
Pakistan Navy started a series of exercises in 2007 with a view to promote regional cooperation and stability, interoperability and to display a united resolve against terrorism and crimes including piracy in maritime domain. The exercises are aimed to play an important role in the formation of joint strategy for global maritime security by including professional expertise in capability of joint operations and regional peace and security. The first Aman exercise held in March 2007 was attended by 28 countries with 14 ships from China, UK, USA, Italy, France, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The second Aman exercise was held in March 2009, in which 24 countries participated with 14 ships from China, UK, USA, France, Malaysia, Australia and Bangladesh and two P-3C aircrafts from Japan. The third round held in March 2011 was attended by 28 countries with 11 ships from Australia, France, China, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and USA and three aircrafts from Australia and Japan. The fourth Aman exercise in March 2013 was attended by 29 countries along with 12 ships and two aircrafts. Aman 17 hosted 35 countries with 12 ships and two aircrafts. All previous naval exercises of the AMAN series have been highly successful and were participated wholeheartedly by navies of friendly countries, ushering goodwill to Pakistan. The Aman exercise hoped to be held in February 2019 has the highest turnout with more than 40 countries participating along with two aircrafts from Japan, two seas King helicopter and naval ships whose number is not yet confirmed.
Pakistan Navy has inducted its first upgraded ATR aircraft and Sea King helicopters in its fleet to augment effectiveness and enhance its operational capability. The ATR aircraft widely operated turboprop platform has been retrofitted with state of the art weapons and sensors, which will substantially enhance Fleet Air Arm’s operational capability commensurate with contemporary Maritime Warfare requirements. Similarly, two Mk 3A/ Mk 4 Sea King helicopters acquired from UK into its existing fleet will further enhance PN fleet operational capability particularly to troops transfer. Two Japanese Naval P3C aircraft of Deployed Maritime Force for Anti-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE) also reached PNS MEHRAN for Pre AMAN-19 exercise. Japanese aircrafts is indeed a hallmark of Maritime Partnership between Pakistan Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defence Force. It is believed that JMSDF aircraft visit to Pakistan will further foster Navy to Navy relations and will go long way in improving friendly relations and give impetus to diplomatic & military ties between Pakistan & Japan.
The Sea Activities include an International Fleet Review, which includes various operational activities like Fly Past by Air Units, RAS (L) Token, Anti-Piracy Demonstration by PN MSW Team, Surface Firing on KILLER TOMATO (Floating Balloon Target), Man and Cheer Ship and Formation AMAN/ PHOTEX. Additionally, numerous other sea activities have been planned, which include simple maneuvers), surface practice firing with main armament and search and rescue operations amongst others.
The importance of these exercises could be apprehended by the theory of Alfred Thayer Mahan, according to which, “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century, the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters”. Strategically it is important for Pakistan to make allies, increase naval power and project this power in order to counter the enemy’s blue water navy. It is no secret that India and USA have teamed against CPEC specially the development of strategic deep water port of Gawadar. Since the port is located close to the Gulf of Hormuz from where thirty-five percent of the world’s oil supply flows to the west, both the US and India, perceive it as a threat, since it technically gives China the capability of choking the world’s oil supply. The rise in the number of participants in exercise bears testimony to Pakistan’s rising relevance to the international pitch. Exercise Aman-19 is expected to bring honor to Pakistan and will raise the morale of PN for hosting a major multi-nation operational exercise and strengthen the confidence of the nation in the capabilities of the maritime guardians of Pakistan.