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U.S. 7th Fleet Would Support ASEAN South China Sea Patrols

Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73). US Navy Photo

Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73). US Navy Photo

The head of U.S. naval forces in the Western Pacific said the U.S. would support an emerging plan to create multi-national patrols in the South China Sea that could bear similarities to anti-piracy patrols in the Strait of Malacca.

During a meeting this week with naval leaders from Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Robert Thomas said the U.S. would back a combined ASEAN maritime patrol in the hotly contested region.

“Perhaps easier said than done, from both a policy and organization perspective, such an initiative could help crystallize the operational objectives in the training events that ASEAN navies want to pursue,” Thomas said at a panel session with navy chiefs quoted by news service Bloomberg.
“If ASEAN members were to take the lead in organizing something along those lines, trust me, the U.S. 7th Fleet would be ready to support.”

Pentagon officials gave the plan a tacit endorsement in a Friday statement to USNI News. “The Department welcomes collaborative efforts to bolster maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, including ASEAN-led efforts. We believe that close cooperation between and among ASEAN member-states is critical to sustaining peace and prosperity in the region,” Pentagon spokeswoman Henrietta Levin said in a statement.
“However, at this time, we are not aware of any specific plans or proposals by ASEAN countries to develop a combined maritime force.”

Any maritime patrol force with U.S. involvement or approval would certainly flare Chinese tempers.

The South China Sea contested territorial claims have been a constant issue between ASEAN countries and China.

A map of China's shifting definition of the so-called Nine-Dash Line. US State Dept. Image

A map of China’s shifting definition of the so-called Nine-Dash Line. US State Dept. Image

Both the Philippines and Vietnam have clashed with China politically over claims to the Spratley and Paracel Island chains and has conducted extensive reclamation work for military facilities.

A regional code of conduct between China and ASEAN countries has been in the works since 2013 but has largely been stalled.

As to the patrols, there is some precedent for combined ASEAN operations.

The scheme could be based on the existing model of combined ASEAN forces anti-piracy patrol in the Strait of Malacca near Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, according to press reports in the Philippines quoting Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Jesus Millan.

“Vice Adm. Millan [said] that for this ‘resource intensive initiative’ to work, all countries concerned should agree in working together in protecting the ‘Freedom of Navigation’ or the safety and security of seaborne trade and international shipping,” read the online report from radio station DWDD.

The plan follows comments from 7th Fleet’s Thomas in January that suggested Japan should consider surface and air patrols in the South China Sea, which quickly drew the ire of the Chinese.

“Countries outside this region should respect efforts made by countries in the region to maintain peace and stability,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying in late January.

On Thursday a group of Senate leaders expressed their own concerns over the South China Sea on Thursday.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees expressed concern over Chinese reclamation efforts in the Spratleys.

“For the international community to continue benefiting from the rules-based international order that has brought stability and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific region for the last seven decades, the Unidted States must work together with like-minded parternes and allies to develop and employ a strategy that aims to shape China’s coercive peacetime behavior,” read the letter signed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    The U.S., especially military leaders, should pull in their horns & let Asians settle an ASEAN problem. We have no business getting involved in the SCS dispute, since our nearest land mass is Guam, over 1500 miles away. To try & reign in China, given our past & current history in military adventurism, is hypocritical on our part. What we need to do is pull the majority of our forces/bases back to the 2nd Island Chain, maintain a robust training & exercise program with everyone we can, keep 3 x MEUs deployed in the Pacific AOR (2 deployed on the Pacific side & 1 deployed on the IO side), & allow the nations bordering or laying claims to the SCS to work their disputes out one way or another. It Is Not Our Problem, nor should we get involved if they go to war, unless it directly threatens out national security. The root causes of this problem goes back to at least 1937 & arguably earlier, so let them solve their own problems & get it out of their system…

    • tagahuron

      You sound like the US Pacifists prior to WWII. Leave Hitler alone, let Europe handle its own problem kind of thing, right? It’s not a US problem. Honestly, you live in a Utopian world. How can you say that China will not threaten the US? If it attacks its Asean neighbors, what makes you think it will not attack Guam or Hawaii, or the mainland in the future? Think how it will affect the global trade. Your mindset is very narrow.

      • Be Way

        You have a lot of “ifs” inferior complex mentality. As if U.S is the only country that is concerned with global trade when you failed to realize that China even beat U.S in terms of global world trade. Please don’t attempt to deceive the world anymore that U.S is a constructive peacemaker when in reality U.S has been instigating bloody conflicts everywhere in this world for the last half century. How many more millions of innocent people need to be sacrificed in order to quench America’s thirst for more blood. How much more massive destruction does U.S need to undertake before it crumbles itself into abyss.

        • tagahuron

          Oh, you believe the commie manipulations of their economy? And GET REAL my friend. The Middles East is burning precisely becoz of LACK of US leadership! When the US bases was still in Subic, China DID NOT occupy territories that belonged to the Philippines. It was shortly after the US withdrew in 1992 that China started to claim Mischief Reef and built “temporary” structures for their fishermen in 1995. Now the reef is now a full fledge military garrison. And following that, they’re now undergoing construction of a number of structures for military purposes in the same vicinity. And you still think this is not a threat to peace in the region? And what is China’s purpose of building their naval power to match or even surpass the US? WHO is threatening them? These are the kinds of questions that you need to think through prudently. And whether you want to admit it or not, there is no other world power unlike the US who has the capability to lead for the sake of peace and stability of the whole world. The UN is a big sham and you don’t have to look any further than just look at the record.

          • Zendi Zong

            U.S created chaos and put their nose into the Middle East and created chaos. All the American want is want more and more. Doing so bring suffering and corruption made by the U.S and the lack of knowledge of American people that don’t see beyond the borders. Same can be said in Asia as we realized the real threat are the U.S itself from the historical past that teach us the aggressor.

          • tagahuron

            Oh, a PLA operative on the block…

          • Be Way

            “The Middles East is burning precisely becoz of LACK of US leadership”

            It’s a sick joke no doubt. The burning of Middle East is exactly due to both U.S and Israel dirty geopolitical power play. From the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and the inhumane bombing of Libya as well as colluding with Al-Qaeda in the attack of Syria, U.S makes a big bloody mess of the whole place. You are mentally retarded to claim U.S plays no part in all these havoc.

            China makes the right move to claim South China Sea is exactly due to the provocation of U.S when it keep on sending spy planes right to the coastal region of China. After WW2 is over, Western Imperialist especially U.S has never left the seas off the coastal region of China and South East Asia. It’s building its military forces right in Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Singapore and the Philippines. Remember the tens of millions of Koreans, Vietnamese, Pinoy, Laotians, Cambodians had been sacrificed under the bloody hands of the Americans. Millions were left homeless, living under miserable lives. It’s a real testimony of the evil of America for committing such heinous crimes against Asians. To claim America as some kind of saint protecting Asia is one of the most sickening joke perpetrated. Just go away, Yankees. You are not wanted in Asia nor everywhere in the world.

          • publius_maximus_III

            But, but… we da world police, Be Way.

          • tagahuron

            You know very well that hadn’t US troops been withdrawn from Iraq, these Islamists will not be rampaging in Iraq. So don’t blame this on the past. You’re just making a scapegoat for this mistake.

          • Secundius

            @ tagahuron.

            The problem is, if we don’t. We’ll just be repeating the Same Mistaikes…

      • Teodoro Tan Fabiaña Jr.

        you got it right. this person(fedup) should not be in this time of life.

    • Zendi Zong

      I can agree with you on this one. As a Laotian. Our country was ravage and destroyed by the U.S and its crony leaderships during the Secret War in Laos. How on earth can the American Government has the voice to support and welcome itself back into South East Asia without them directing fixing their own problems and not the Asean? Asean isn’t the problems to fix on what the U.S has already done. It is the U.S problems to fix it directly without the outsider support.

      • ibcalif

        But the “imported from the West” Marxism you have no problem with? Must be it’s inherent authoritarian nature that appeals.

  • Zendi Zong

    Asean shouldn’t support this notion for the fact that Asean or South East Asia could be at risk of a future war and social instability. We should learned from our past from the real threat of U.S on Japan Atomic bombing and the Millions of gulf size bombs littered across Laos and IndoChina since the end of the Vietnam War. It would be reckless for Asean since the community organization and the people of Asean aren’t all aline with each other. This notion of war mongering from the U.S is nothing more then to bring more chaos that they have done against some of its Asean members country and left out in the dark for decades. Not all Asean will agree with this and will be an Asean internal future problems as the U.S already built chaos behind close doors a decades ago without fixing their own problems. Many die and suffer because of these leaderships from the U.S and using CIA against those wasn’t at war with the American. The War was brought against us. Not them! Wake up Asean. We are being played. We must play smart!

    • Curtis Conway

      And while you keep stirring the pot in the Pacific, and keeping everyone divided so they cannot stand united against the threat, the snake crawls through the grass and takes their fisheries. Your mindset is conquest, and ignores HiStory. Japan has been rebuilt, has a more vibrant economy, power and prospects that it did before. A true peer amongst free nations, and a trusted friend in the region. Only conquering belligerents think otherwise. Time to grow up.

      • Zendi Zong

        In your fantasy world it is your dream of dividing the world up. Look at the Middle East,Africa,Europe to South America. You don’t a brilliant scientist to figure out U.S notion throughout history. Japan is another thing since they been raped and molested by U.S marines along with the Korean for decades. U.S reality don’t trust Japanese or support them to build their own military power over the pacific because majority of the American still see Japanese as a product of threat and should be tell what to do like dogs. That’s how American treat Japan overall notion. And of course, time is everything. Even wiping the secret war under the carpet as if it never happened and the sanction of country that the American government set upon against the moral of humanity. South East Asia never found peace when the first U.S set its foot in there. Remember the Vietnam war and the Secret War in Laos. Asean should seek a better option then face the true barbarian from across the ocean stirring turmoil all over Asia.

        • Curtis Conway

          “majority of the American still see Japanese as a product of threat ”

          My final post.

          The United States has assisted Japan in every way we can. They are now a true power in the Pacific. That is why we have asked them to assume greater security responsibilities in the Pacific, and much to your chagrin, they are accepting the challenge. We will assist them, and ASEAN, in their efforts, and not steal their fish from their fisheries, or build artificial islands in their exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

          • Zendi Zong

            I see hypocritical foreign policy there. I’m sure the Japanese in the future would be happy to build their own Pacific military build up to protect from the true threat of American encroachment into Japan rightful place in the Pacific region. The Atomic bomb laid wasted of Japan and the rapping of Japanese for decades should be considered and will not be let go so easily as it is the moral of the Japanese culture and its revenge.

          • Secundius

            @ Zendi Zong.

            Didn’t do Konam, Korea (Now North Korea) any good either in 12 August 1945. When Imperial Japan Exploded a Uranium-235 Atomic Bomb, killing ~70,000-Korean’s…

          • Zendi Zong

            I am not an expert on Korean and Japanese relation. But I am an expert in South East Asia and Laos because that is where my homeland is at. And the longest history there.

          • Be Way

            Oh fish, Oh fish, the Americans are angry that the Chinese are catching you for food. Never mind then millions of human died under the hands of the Americans in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Korea and Philippines as well as millions of Indonesians and Filipino were murdered under American backed tyrants like Suharto and Marcos. Fish ye, Oh fish ye, the Americans are fighting on your behalf now. You are now being used as propaganda of lies, deceit and filth as a excuse to create another bloody war in East Asia and South East Asia.

          • remied

            Be Way, Zendi Zong and who else
            China claim is a fairytale only children can believe. That is how they teach their fake glorious history. Get them young, If any logical person look at the map they know that it is the SCS belong to no one. How can one country claim all and up to other countries shoreline literally? THINK for yourself not because your chinese

          • Zendi Zong

            If you looked into Vietnam and Philippine. And the overall region in SCS. China has the longest history of seafarer in the regions. There was no such thing as Philippine or Vietnam during this early history of SCS.

            And speaking about the hypocrite of Vietnam. They invaded and destroyed rich and vibrant kingdom that once native along Vietnam coastal regions. If this kingdom was still standing today.

            They would have the right of SCS and the native historical lineage with the Philippine. Because of this. Vietnam and Philippine erase its own past historical history of these ethnic natives people, for the sake of being loyal to the Chinese elites and to the empire.
            During this early times in SCS and South East Asia land history. Vietnamese people existed nor did the Philippine until later on in history. Both of these country are just too young and has no history just as old.

          • tagahuron

            Yeah right… so China now owns the SCS. The cow tounge was drawn by a bunch of drunkard Chinese commies.

          • remied


          • Zendi Zong

            I see that you are laughing maybe because you didn’t do your home work. I hope you do see the logic in this a bit deeper.

          • remied

            They are not letting me comment.

          • remied

            Natives in SCS became were fishing there before China . Chinese ancient maps were a copy of European map in Chinese this proof Chinese were not seafarer

          • remied

            If China is older then SCS countries, it does not give them right to SEA or others front yard. That logic is BIAS. If that bias is use for evidence then the Europeans should own America or oceans,etc. Better yet, the oldest country should own everything

          • remied

            I know your Chinese “disney” stories made you feel good when you were a child BUT you are older so think for yourself. Hey, if china feels fairytale is solid evidence, they are welcome to present it in court . HAHA

          • Michael Nunez

            This Post is S**t from the word go…….

          • Zendi Zong

            I always find it quite intriguing that your opinion all of the sudden flip around when the situation are high and the injection of your thought by spreading lies to lure people into a situation that isn’t promising. But compromised those that were lured into that promise as easy minder people. As I said it many times.” People are looking at the right hand. But the left hand is pulling all the string when you’re not looking.”

          • tagahuron

            Don’t give us this commie history…

  • Chinese of the east.

    As usual, US is always instigating countries with all sorts of trickeries to succumb to them. Us is so huge and still needs backing from smaller countries to follow behind them. So coward just like a man with a big body but with a small brainless head. US alone cannot take on China or Russia and needs allies to support them, what a shame calling themselves big brother..

    • tagahuron

      Another PLA operative on the block… arrogant just like their commie leaders.

  • China Lee

    I think it’s a terrible idea for two reasons.

    1. Further provocation of China will lead to a Chinese South China Sea ADIZ.

    2. The end-game is a formal SCO Sino-Russian military alliance.

    The “Pivot to Asia” was a bad idea. Don’t make things worse. You will push China into the Russian camp.

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  • James Sword

    Asians settle an ASEAN problem? No way Jose! ASEANS too scared of the big bully. It should be……ASEAN (Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam) vs the Big Bully in an arbitration court. That way the field is leveled. That one China is scared because the truth and evidence is real. China knows Nine dash line is nothing but a scam.

    Allow China to dominate and dictate half of the world’s commerce would be suicide for the US. ASEAN, the fastest growing market in the world besides China led by the Philippines the last 3 years, if given to be gobbled up by China will be another suicide for the US and the US might as well jump off the cliff.

    • Just me, Banlas

      U.S is already choked to death in Middle East and Ukraine.

      • James Sword

        Looks like you are not following the US Senators and what they plan to do. Too much interest to give up on SCS. Let us see whether they have balls or not. If they do, China will stop or be stopped.

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  • Secundius

    What Gerrymandering Territorial Lines, not working. So go to Plan B…

  • publius_maximus_III

    “…an emerging plan to create multi-national patrols in the South China Sea that could bear similarities to anti-piracy patrols in the Strait of Malacca.”
    So, the proposed *structure* of such South China Sea multi-national patrols would be that of anti-piracy patrols elsewhere. But the *goal* of the SCS patrols, at least with U.S. Navy involvement, would be nothing short of direct PRC provocation:
    “Any maritime patrol force with U.S. involvement or approval would certainly flare Chinese tempers.”

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  • Chris

    Where there is US troops, where there will be wars.
    The US has been pivoted in middle east for over several decades and made there mess, wars, poverty. Now the ASEAN is developing and prosperous here, the US troop come here to make here the same as the middle east.

  • Ricardo Macalisang

    China is a fucken idiot they do not know the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in every nation, in short China is a land grabber they wanted to take all the resources from other nations because they know that they are superior in terms of military equipment that is why they keep on bullying smaller nations that’s the reality and we are very much thankful for the US government to lead the G-7 group of nations to tell China to stop your illegal reclamation to be use as military garrison in the near future.

    • Secundius

      @ Ricardo Macalisang.

      Where does it STOP? What prevents the PRC, from extending their 200-nautical mile Economic Exclusion Zone’s. From the point of their already Newly Acquired Possessions. In other words, “Island Hopping All the Way To Our Territorial Door”…

  • Ricardo Macalisang

    If you are going to examine what the Chinese do to our resources is that they wanted to take it by force and even deprived my fellow countrymen for their source of livelihood just like what they did to the fishermen when they use water cannons to drive out our fishermen and take all the fish in the storage and destroyed the fishing net to our own territory what a shame and what kind of a people are you entering the exclusive economic zone to other countries and threatened our brothers to leave and vacate our own place. Maybe you have to educate yourself because what you have done is a clear manifestation for HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION.

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  • BASIS CHARTER SCHOOLS of China $ from SSF and PLA?