The US Navy and Marine Corps launched a naval exercise this week that is being billed as the largest US amphibious exercise in 40 years. The Large Scale Exercise 2021 (LSE) launched August 3rd and will run until August 16th, spanning 17 time zones and involving five numbered fleets.
US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 6th Fleet said in a statement that the LSE is a return to similar Cold War exercises that were held in the 1980s. The drills are another example of the US military shifting its focus towards so-called “great power competition” with Russia and China.
“LSE 2021 provides our Navy-Marine Corps team the opportunity to plan, direct and establish full spectrum naval operations. We must build naval readiness and advance the art and science of naval warfare to be ready to fight tonight — the stakes could not be higher,” said Adm. Samuel Paparo, the commander of US Pacific Fleet.
At least 36 ships, 50 virtual units, and about 25,000 personnel are expected to participate in the LSE, and the drills will be held across the world. The idea is to send a message to China and Russia that the US could fight naval battles on multiple fronts. This year, the LSE will only involve US warships, but other countries might join in the future.
The US also kicked off a separate massive military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region that incorporates all domains, each branch of the US military, and will include the UK, Japan, and Australia. The similarly named Large Scale Global Exercise 21 started on Monday and will be held until August 27th.
“This all-domain exercise will take place across the Indo-Pacific region with our global partners in the form of field training, logistical support activities, amphibious landings, airborne and ground maneuvers, air operations, maritime operations, and special operations activities,” US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.