U.S., Allies Kick Off Exercise Valiant Shield 2024

June 7, 2024 6:16 PM
An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Royal Maces’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27, lands on the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), during flight operations in support of Valiant Shield 2024 in the Philippine Sea, June 7, 2024. US Navy Photo

The U.S military, along with allied and partner forces, began exercise Valiant Shield 2024 on Friday on Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex. The exercise will end on June 18th. Meanwhile, Marine Rotational Force-Darwin is conducting joint amphibious training with the Australian Defence Force, while Chinese ships and a drone have been operating around Japan’s southwest islands.

​VS24 is a multinational, biennial field training exercise focused on interoperability in a multidomain environment, with this year’s iteration being the tenth since it began in 2006. “Exercises such as VS24 allow forces across the Indo-Pacific the opportunity to integrate Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force, and partner nations to train in precise, lethal, and overwhelming multi-axis, multi-domain effects that demonstrate the strength and versatility of the Joint and Combined Force,” stated a Pacific Fleet release.

“It takes all of us to maintain a safe, stable, and secure Indo-Pacific, as we flex our joint and combined capabilities to advance multi-domain operations,” said Adm. Stephen T. Koehler, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in the release.

The release did not state the units or nations participating in the exercise, but the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is participating in the exercise, based on images posted on DVIDS. Japan’s Ministry of Defense stated that 10 F-22 Raptor fighters and 180 personnel from the U.S. Air Force 18th Wing based at Kadena Air Base and 5 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and 130 personnel from the U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138 “Yellow Jackets” based at Misawa Air Base will conduct training in Guam from Friday to June 18. F-22 fighters from the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons, homebased at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, arrived at Kadena Air Base on March 28 for a deployment, while F-22 fighters from the 27th Fighter Squadron, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis , arrived on Apr. 20.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force said on May 29 submarine JS Hakugei (SS-514) would be carrying out training with the U.S. in the vicinity of Guam from June 5 to July 10.

The Marine Corps said more than 600 U.S. service members will conduct training across the Palau island chain for VS24 with Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, headquartered at Camp Pendleton, California, leading the joint contingent in Palau. Additional units include elements of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the U.S. Army’s 3rd Multi-Domain Task Force , the U.S. Air Force 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 27th Fighter Squadron and the U.S. Navy’s 30th Naval Construction Regiment, according to the release.

The release also stated that aircraft and naval vessels participating in the exercise will conduct their live-fire training in international waters east of Palau and that 3d MDTF will fire an Autonomous Multi-domain Launcher, an unmanned rocket launcher based on the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, from Palau International Airport. Japan had announced on May 24 that it would take part in the VS24 exercise and part of the exercise would take place in Japan, but neither Japan nor the U.S. has released any statements on the Japanese part of VS24.

Meanwhile, in Australia, U.S. Marines and sailors with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) 24.3 Marine Air-Ground Task Force have embarked on Royal Australian Navy (RAN) amphibious assault ship HMAS Adelaide (L01) alongside Australian forces to participate in the Wet and Dry Exercise Rehearsal (WADER), transiting from Darwin to Townsville from June 2 to 20, according to a MRF-D release.

The WADER exercise will see MRF-D working with the Australian Defence Force to conduct a series of training activities designed to enhance joint operational capabilities. The early stages of WADER include MV-22B Osprey deck landing qualifications executed by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (Reinforced), and a Combat Marksmanship Program live-fire deck shoot conducted by Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (Reinforced). On June 15, the ADF will initiate a ship-to-shore movement using landing craft, incorporating vehicles and logistics personnel from Combat Logistics Battalion 5 (Reinforced).

“Embarking aboard HMAS Adelaide for the WADER exercise is a significant opportunity for our forces to demonstrate and enhance our amphibious capabilities. This exercise not only strengthens our operational readiness, but also reinforces the strong partnership between U.S. and Australian forces, ensuring we are prepared to respond to regional crises together,” said Col. Brian Mulvihill, commanding officer of MRF-D 24.3 MAGTF, in the release.

In other developments, Japan’s Joint Staff Office reported on Tuesday that on the morning of that day, a Chinese military TB-001 reconnaissance and attack drone flew in from the East China Sea, passed between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island, reached the Pacific Ocean, and flew over the Pacific Ocean south of Okinawa Island to the coast of the island of Amami Oshima before turning around and passing between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island again to return to East China Sea. In response, fighter jets from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Southwestern Air Defense Force were scrambled to respond

On Thursday, the JSO reported that at 10 a.m. on Sunday, People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer CNS Zhengzhou (151) was sighted sailing south in an area 50 miles northwest of Uotsuri Island and subsequently at noon, frigate CNS Huanggang (577) was sighted also sailing south. The two PLAN ships then sailed south in the waters 43 miles west of Uotsuri Island and then sailed in the waters between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan. On Thursday, the two PLAN ships were sighted sailing north through the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyako Island to return to the East China Sea. JMSDF destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD-152) and JMSDF P-1 maritime patrol aircrafts of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on the main island of Kyushu shadowed the PLAN ships, according to the release.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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