Exercise Aman – 2023: “Together for Peace and Security”
By Anoshka Johum
Oceans are a “global shared good” and a “lifeline” of international trade. Oceans are the key to current and future economic development, prosperity and, above all, security for all nations. It is estimated that more than three billion people worldwide, especially in developing countries, depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and well-being.
However, in the era of globalization and increasing non-traditional security challenges, the dynamics of international maritime security have changed. Today, the security of the maritime sector is undermined by unprecedented threats and challenges such as disputed navigation routes, depletion of natural resources, piracy and armed robbery, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, drugs, weapons and nuclear materials, migrant smuggling, illegal activities in the fishing industry and deliberate and illegal damage to the marine environment.
All of these issues pose acute challenges to global efforts to maintain international peace and security. In addition, maritime disputes between several countries, climate change and natural disasters also pose a major challenge in maintaining the availability and security of the world’s oceans for economic and development purposes.
With these growing challenges and the changing threat dynamics of the maritime sector, the emphasis on maintaining a strong naval force has increased manifold. Naval power plays a key role in enhancing the influence of coastal states. Very often overlooked or ignored is the fact that naval power, especially sustaining blue water navies, can play an important role in both conventional and unconventional deterrence.
The Navy performs important and diverse tasks in peacetime and non-war operations. Therefore, many states are increasing their naval presence near maritime economic centers and strategically important choke points to protect their economic, political and strategic interests.
Geographically located at the top of the Arabian Sea, close to the Strait of Hormuz, Pakistan is fortunate to have great geostrategic importance in the Indian Ocean, which has been the center of major economic and strategic activities for the past few decades. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is one of the world’s most important and busiest trade routes.
About 80% of the world’s oil supplies and one-third of bulk cargo are transported via the Indian Ocean Sea Line of Communication. It is home to more than 2.7 billion people. The IOR is rich in natural resources and is very significant due to its geological, political, economic and strategic features. Due to the increased geostrategic importance of the Indian Ocean not only for littoral but also for non-littoral states, there is an increase in the number of countries maintaining their maritime presence in the IOR.
The unprecedented increase in the level of insecurity in the Indian Ocean region, especially around the Persian Gulf, West Africa, the Strait of Malacca and the Arabian Sea, is worrying many littoral states. As a result, it became clear that no country could handle the magnitude of this current danger alone. Strengthening maritime security required strong international cooperation that would not only address these problems but also address their root causes such as poverty, lack of alternative livelihoods, insecurity and weak governance structures.
The growing and interconnected threats to maritime security required a truly global and integrated response, as the establishment of a coordinated maritime policy was imperative. As a result, maritime nations have turned to forming maritime alliances and conducting naval exercises to improve interoperability among the world’s navies and jointly mitigate maritime security challenges.
As a major stakeholder in the IOR, maintaining peace and security in the region is Pakistan’s top priority. Whereas, Pakistan Navy will hold its Multinational Naval Exercise “AMAN EXERCISE” in February 2023. The exercise will be the 8th in the series and more than 50 countries from different parts of the world are expected to participate. With the slogan “Together for Peace”, Exercise AMAN, as the name suggests, is primarily aimed at maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean.
Pakistan Navy organizes this mega event every two years to express Pakistan’s commitment to make seas safer for positive human activities while inviting regional and extra-regional navies. AMAN represents a “bridge” that allows several countries to meet and interact through their naval forces. AMAN is a manifestation of securitization through cooperation that emphasizes collectivism rather than states competing to maximize their own security without regard for others.
Since its inaugural meeting in 2007, the number of countries participating in the AMAN exercise has grown steadily from 28 in the first year to 43 in 2021, and this number is expected to reach 100 countries this year. Exercise AMAN has become a landmark in the Indian Ocean region as a symbol of sustainable peace and security.
The rising trajectory of participation signals acceptance of Pakistan’s message of peace and security. The frequent execution of AMAN exercises demonstrates Pakistan’s determination to fight crimes and terrorism in the maritime domain and also shows the professional excellence of the Pakistan Navy. The AMAN exercise reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment, will and expertise to promote international cooperation in maritime affairs to promote peace, security and prosperity in the region and beyond.
The exercise “AMAN – 2023” aims to strengthen and develop military cooperation between the countries participating in the maneuvers for the sake of security and stability at sea, as well as share experience in combating maritime piracy threats in the areas of heavy shipping and conducting. search and rescue operations at sea.
The event will help participating countries explore new avenues of common interest, maritime cooperation, regional maritime security and bilateral cooperation. AMAN 2023 aims to improve interoperability between regional and other navies. It serves as a global platform to enhance communication between participating naval fleets. In the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean, AMAN promotes a shared vision to strengthen maritime security.
The exercise is designed to ensure unrestricted and secure trade in the Indian Ocean region. The exercise was aimed at cementing the process of joint maritime security between countries around the world; demonstrate joint resolve against threats emanating from the maritime domain; improve interoperability between participating states; and achieve a common understanding of maritime security operations, counter-terrorism operations and humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
To achieve these goals, the exercise was designed to be divided into two phases; Port and sea. The port stage hosts activities such as friendly sports matches and international cultural performances. While in the maritime phase, the International Fleet Review is conducted along with various other exercises to practice responding to maritime security threats in a multinational environment. In addition, special forces teams from participating countries participate in anti-piracy operations to develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) for combined action against asymmetric threats at sea.
Apart from ensuring peace and security, AMAN EXERCISE provides an opportunity to observe the diverse cultures of participating countries, AMAN-2023 exercise will promote regional cooperation and stability, greater interoperability and united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain, AMAN exercise is a testament to Pakistan’s military multilateralism.
A large number of observers, foreign diplomats, personnel of the participating navies and senior officials of the Pakistan Armed Forces are expected to attend the event and witness rousing demonstrations.
The AMAN exercise will coincide with the first Pakistan International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (PIMEC) scheduled for February 2023. PIMEC aims to showcase our country’s maritime potential and explore new avenues of cooperation and blue economy.
Pakistan has always been a responsible state and its commitment to “peaceful existence” and desire for regional stability is evident from its participation in various international peacekeeping missions, Combined Task Force 150 and 151, various indigenous initiatives and multilateral exercises such as regional maritime security. Patrols (RMSP) and AMAN exercises.
Pakistan strongly favors cooperation as a tactical option when it comes to dealing with circumstances that threaten common human interests. According to its doctrine, the Pakistan Navy accepts the presence of a “cooperative continuum” that allows fleets to work together through regional and extra-regional coalitions to respond to both conventional and emerging maritime threats. In its quest for maritime security, the Pakistan Navy is keen to operate through its own initiated and maintained multilateral agreements.
Based on the principle of “proactive engagement”, the Pakistan Navy views maritime outreach as a chance to create and strengthen alliances that go beyond conventional interest-based strategy. AMAN is a reflection of Pakistan’s desire to engage in non-alienation, cross-barrier linkages and cooperation on competitiveness rather than a response to any regional maritime infrastructure. Therefore, AMAN is aptly referred to as the operational expression of Pakistan’s foreign policy.