Peace group says Pitch Black war exercises do not foster closer Asia-Pacific ties

August 21, 2022
Six Eurofighter Typhoons are being used in the war games. Photo: Asia Pacific Defence Reporter

Military exercises, such as Exercise Pitch Black, pitch Australia closer to war rather than increasing regional security and fostering closer ties in the Indo-Pacific region, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) said on August 20.

Exercise Pitch Black began in the Northern Territory, with a display at Mindil Beach, close to Darwin CBD, and an “Open Day” at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin on August 19. It runs until September 8.

“These exercises are about simulating threats in a war setting and involve a huge level of resources and greenhouse emissions,” IPAN spokesperson Vince Scappatura said. “Every dollar spent on war or practising war, is a dollar taken away from working for peace.”

The biennial warfare training, hosted by the RAAF, is mainly conducted from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal.

The operation is aimed at practicing military exercises in a simulated war environment. Some exercises will also be conducted at RAAF Base Amberley, 40 kilometres south-west of Brisbane.

IPAN is concerned the war games are provocative and entrench Australia with the United States. It is concerned that the greenhouse gas emissions from these exercises won’t be counted in Australia’s national inventory.

RAAF argues that they increase regional security and foster closer ties the Indo-Pacific region.

Pitch Black involves up to 2500 personnel and up to 100 aircraft from around the globe, including Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Britain, the Philippines, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Netherlands, Malaysia, New Zealand and the US.

Significantly, Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea will be participating fully for the first time.

The German Air Force is deploying six Eurofighter Typhoons, three A330 multi-role tanker transports and an A400M transport aircraft to the Pacific. It is aiming to show that these weapons can be in Singapore within a day.

The war exercises also disrupt local communities as they include day and night flying. Prior to the official start, military aircraft were observed flying later than the 11pm curfew. As Darwin airport is located in the city, noise levels are extreme.

Anti-war activists are concerned that Northern Australia is developing into a US military colony. Scappatura, who teaches at politics and international relations at Macquarie University, called on the federal government to “focus on diplomacy and peace and to be more mindful of the environment in this time of climate crisis”.

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