US sailors and marines across the globe are currently participating in Large Scale Exercise 2021 (LSE 2021) which kicked off on 3 August, and will run until 16 August. The exercises, which include the US Pacific Fleet, US Naval Forces Europe and US Fleet Forces Command are aimed at testing the navy’s ability to conduct coordinated operations at a global level and at proving the U.S. Navy and Marines’ warfighting concepts. Overall, the scale of the exercises spans 17 time zones. Held virtually and in real time under the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations, LSE 2021 is based on a series of fleet problems.
In an official announcement, the Navy listed distributed maritime operations, expeditionary advanced base operations, and littoral operations in a contested environment as some of the key concepts the exercise sets out to test. Command and control structures, specifically the links between commands and units, are another key focus. LSE 2021 is also said to include evaluations of a number of experimental technologies.
According to Admiral Christopher Grady of US Fleet Forces Command:
“We have shifted focus from the individual Carrier Strike Group to a larger fleet-centric approach, challenging fleet commanders’ abilities to make decisions at a speed and accuracy that outpaces the adversaries. […] LSE is more than just training; it is leveraging the integrated fighting power of multiple naval forces to share sensors, weapons, and platforms across all domains in contested environments, globally.”
Admiral Samuel Paparo of the US Pacific Fleet highlighted the importance of the exercises, noting:
“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.”
The exercise comes at the same time that China and Russia, clearly the main focus of LSE 2021, are conducting their own joint training exercise and while the US and South Korea forces are participating in separate war games. LSE 2021 is the first iteration of what is planned to be triennial exercise.