BEIJING: The US held more than 100 large-scale military exercises near China last year, practicing and validating several new war concepts as the Pentagon ramped up military deployment in the region to contain Beijing, an official think-tank here said.
Based on publicly available information, the US military conducted 95 exercises in and near the disputed South China Sea in 2021, with the actual number exceeding 100, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said in a report released on Sunday.
Among the 95 drills, 14 consisted solely of arms of the US military, including the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard, state-run Global Times reported on Monday.
They featured training courses including anti-ship, anti-submarine, anti-sea mine, amphibious, cyberspace and maritime situational awareness missions.
The other 81 were joint exercises with other countries including those along the coastlines of the South China Sea as well as those from outside the region including Japan, the UK, Australia, India, France and Canada, the SCSPI report said, noting that both the frequency and scale of the drills reached new highs.
The US significantly increased its presence in the region with frequent transit of its air and naval vessels through the disputed South China Sea to assert the freedom of navigation and to debunk China's expansive claims over the area.
China's claims over the South China Sea were disputed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.
Also, the US pressed more of its naval vessels through the Taiwan Straits amid aggressive military moves by China to take over Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan as part of its mainland and vows to integrate it.
The SCSPI report said in 2021, the US military successively sent strategic platforms including four carrier strike groups, two amphibious ready groups, 11 nuclear-powered attack submarines and carried out 22 bombers sorties.
This was in addition to conducting at least 1,200 aerial close-in reconnaissance sorties with large spy aircraft and 419 ship days of maritime survey and surveillance with spy ships to the South China Sea, with an obvious intent to deter China, it said.
The US also tried to validate some of its new war concepts like multi-domain operations, expeditionary advanced base operations, distributed maritime operations and littoral operations in a contested environment, as the US now acknowledges that China has the edge in the air and sea within the first island chain, the SCSPI said, citing US documents on the Indo-Pacific Strategy.
New technologies, including standoff hypersonic weapons, antiballistic missile technologies, precision strike and missile defence systems, new maritime combat systems, directed energy weapons, next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines and destroyers are all under development by the US, the SCSPI said.