The Pentagon has unveiled what's being described as "the biggest US naval exercise in a generation" to be held in late summer and which will simulate readiness for a future "possible conflict with China or Russia," according to a new report in Military.com.
Expected to include 25,000 sailors and Marines, it comes amid a broader shift in Pentagon strategy which seeks readiness for 'great power conflict' as opposed the more limited nature of 'war on terror' missions which has defined the last two decades.
To include aircraft carriers, planes, and submarines, the "Large Scale Exercise 2021" will be held across seven time zones, linking up multiple global command centers with personnel from the US, Europe, Africa and the Pacific.
While exact locations of the deployed exercises are uncertain at this point, the report says that 'live forces' will operation in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, likely to include amphibious landing scenarios - the kind one might expect in a theoretical future conflict in the South China Sea.
"The sailors and Marines participating will test several concepts they're likely to encounter in a possible conflict with China," the report says. "Scenarios will test the sailors and Marines' ability to conduct distributed operations; expeditionary advanced-base operations; littoral operations in a contested environment; and command and control in a contested environment."
Lt. Cmdr. Tabitha Klingensmith of US Fleet Forces Command was cited in the report as saying that "training events are growing in scope and complexity" - again reflecting the move away from Mideast-focused missions and back to WWII-style scenarios of front warfare as well as major theaters.
It comes as under President Biden tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea continue to remain on edge, given also this year alone the US Navy has conducted almost a half-dozen sail-throughs of the contested Taiwan Strait, which China has condemned as "undermining stability" in the region and "illegally" signaling Taiwan independence forces.