The United States Navy joined 20 navies from around the globe in the return of the Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo (MNEK) in and around Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia June 4-8.

The exercise allowed for several exchanges that support multilateral cooperation in the maritime environment across the Indo-Pacific.

During the event, Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander U.S. 7th Fleet, spoke about the importance of relationships and working together to be able to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“A multilateral relief effort doesn’t just happen. It is cultivated through exercises, exchanges, conferences, and dialogues. During efforts like Komodo, relationships between navies are forged such that during times of adversity our linkages will bear the strain – whenever and wherever it may occur,” said Thomas.
“One of the U.S. Navy’s primary missions is to ensure that these sea lanes remain free and open, that they continue to connect nations and serve as the lifeblood of a vibrant global economy… after a disaster, those same sea lanes serve as a conduit by which lifesaving aid is delivered to remote and often inaccessible locations.”

Originating as a biennial exercise series in 2014, Komodo 2023 will be the first iteration since 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s MNEK theme was “Partnership to recover and to rise stronger.” Under the theme, the Indonesian Navy has invited the participating nations to work together to contribute to responding to humanitarian problems and deal with potential natural disasters in the region.

“Komodo 2023 is a fantastic venue for building on our long-standing relationship with Indonesia by enhancing our coordination efforts, strengthening partnerships, and deepening collaboration,” said Capt. Tim LaBenz, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7. “It’s an honor to participate in such dynamic outreach opportunities with so many of our friends and partners in the region.”

MNEK 2023 is unique compared to other multilateral naval exercises in the region since it emphasizes non-warfighting aspects of operational-level exercises. The exercise included a shore phase with engineering and medical civic action programs, international maritime security symposium, community outreach, military sports engagements, and an international fleet review..

U.S. Navy personnel from DESRON 7, Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Manchester (LCS 14) with attached MH-60R Seahawk participated in the exercise.

“Readiness and cooperation are a top priority operation in this region,” said Cmdr. Colleen Moore, commanding officer, Manchester, “This exercise allows our Sailors to showcase their skills as we operate with navies throughout the region.”