Home » Budget Industry » Senator Wants Navy Freedom of Navigation Operation Past Mischief Reef


Senator Wants Navy Freedom of Navigation Operation Past Mischief Reef

Aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) in the South China Sea. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) in the South China Sea. US Navy Photo

A vocal member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for the U.S. Navy to challenge Chinese claims to artificial islands soon near the Philippines following a decision from an international tribunal that ruled against several Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

Specifically, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) called on the Obama administration to send Navy assets to contest Chinese territorial claims around their artificial island on Mischief Reef via a freedom of navigation operation.

“In the coming weeks the U.S. Navy should conduct a FON op at Mischief Reef, which the Hauge tribunal has determined is a low-tide elevation,” he said speaking at Center of Strategic and International Studies conference on the South China Sea on Tuesday.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

As part of the extensive ruling, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Arbitration Tribunal through the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague declared Mischief Reef a low tide elevation that does not, “generate entitlement to a territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”

In the last three South China Sea FON ops conducted by U.S. guided missile destroyers, the U.S. ships transited by Chinese claims via innocent passage – a legal right in which a warship can quickly transit within a 12 nautical mile territorial sea without conducting any military operations.

However, the status of Mischief Reef – according to the ruling – would allow more than just an expeditious transit, Sullivan said.
“In Mischief Reef’s case that would allow military maneuver, a FON op beyond simple innocent passage and we need to look at all the options and I’m confident that our admirals are doing that,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be going through with just innocent passage. These FON ops should be based on what the international law allows.”

Navy officials said on Tuesday morning they could not discuss future operations. Currently, the Navy’s forward-deployed Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is operating in the South China Sea.

While the service is loathe to broadcast FON ops before they occur, USNI News understands that U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris in the past has pushed for a FON op past Mischief Reef. Unlike other Chinese territorial claims in the Spratly Island chain, there is little ambiguity to the legal status of the island allowing a FON op to send a clear message to Beijing.

Sullivan, along with SASC chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), were both vocal in publically pushing the Obama administration to undertake more South China Sea FON ops following the innocent passage of a Chinese flotilla through U.S. territorial waters in Alaska in September.

“Early on in the administration, the FON ops seemed to be something that our administration was reluctant to undertake. It was clear there was some distention between different leaders in the Obama administration,” Sullivan said on Tuesday.

The U.S. has conducted three FON ops past Chinese holdings in the South China Sea since late October.

In late October, USS Lassen (DDG-84) conducted a FON op past the Chinese artificial holding on Subi Reef in the Spratlys. In January, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) came within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese installation on Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain near Vietnam. In May USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) came within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese installation on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Island chain.

All three of the operations have met with fierce rhetoric from Beijing accusing the U.S. of violating Chinese territorial sovereignty.

In his speech at CSIS, Sullivan also called for the U.S. to examine basing two carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific and stepping up U.S. surface and aviation operations in the region.

  • Andre

    There is no reason for the United States to respect China’s outrageous claims, but undertaking military operations near Mischief Reef would be provocative. What about landing Marines on Mischief Reef? What about sending soldiers to Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Crimea? Why not send soldiers to South Sudan to keep the peace and prevent Sudanese meddling?

    Basically, there are many territorial disputes that the United States can inject itself into, but Dan Sullivan seems intent on singling-out China.

    • Curtis Conway

      The United States must maintain clear and unobstructed Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOCs) to preserve our economic engine. That is why the US Navy exist. The United Stated maintains superiority in the area of maritime operations, even in today’s depleted state.

      China has declared capricious and wishful desires in ownership of the entire South China Sea based on claims that in some cases go back over 400 years. It is as if WWII didn’t happen, and China did not sign United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). If China’s signature on UNCLOS means nothing, and in effect is not binding, and holds no weight in governing their actions, what does that say about any other internationally binding agreement in which China participates?

      The clear objective on china’s part is to dominate the entirety of the South China Sea to the detriment of their lesser neighbors. In any culture on the face of the planet, throughout all time, that kind of behavior has a definition, and that is the actions of a Bully or a Tyrant! All free nations stand against that, as does the Charter of the United Nations.

      • Andre

        Yes, but how has China obstructed US SLOCs?

        Even if China built naval and air facilities throughout the Spratlys and Paracels, how would this obstruct the United States? For instance: Iran has militarized its side of the Strait of Hormuz: Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia could jointly or separately choke off Malacca; and the Panama Canal could easily be obstructed by a non-state actor.

        The issue is not capability, but actions, and so far there is no indication that China wants anything other than the SCS’s fish and energy resources.

        • sferrin

          “Yes, but how has China obstructed US SLOCs?”

          It’s not just about the US. The US has allies. China is trying to take their territory by coercion and intimidation. Surely you see this.

          “no indication that China wants anything other than the SCS’s fish and energy resources.”

          That they have no claim to.

          • Andre

            Firstly, China has not attempted to seize maritime features that are occupied by any US allies, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or the Philippines. China (Mischief Reef, Johnson South Reef), Malaysia and Vietnam have occupied various features in the West Philippine Sea that are within the Philippines’ EEZ , however, the Philippines has also occupied features beyond its EEZ (e.g. Panata, Kota, Pagasa). Territory or territorial waters are not the concern here: the issue is economic exclusivity.

            Secondly, China does want more than its fair share of fish, oil and gas.

            Thirdly, attempting to not treat China like a great power and giving it legal equality with the Philippines or Malaysia, will never work. The PCA ruling is the first step in what will be a negotiation over resource-sharing.

          • incredulous1

            You need to review the facts as many of these statements are incorrect.

          • Andre

            Which ones bud?

          • life form

            Well, this is false:
            “Firstly, China has not attempted to seize maritime features that are
            occupied by any US allies, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or the
            Philippines.”

            Consider the Scarborough Shoal. The prohibition of Philippine vessels from fishing in their EEZ or resupplying that grounded hulk.
            (edit, the “grounded hulk” is at the Second Thomas Shoal)

          • Andre

            Well by “seize” I meant by force, as China did with Vietnam in the Paracels. The Philippines was blocked from Scarborough but China has not occupied the features. The grounded Philippine ship is not at Scarborough but in the Spratlys: Second Thomas Shoal I believe.

          • life form

            Yes, thanks for the correction on the grounded boat.
            But it certainly is true that for the last four years, China has kept Filipino fishermen from fishing in their own waters, and kept the Filipinos from resupplying their Second Thomas Shoal people. The ship is surrounded by grey hulls. Grey hulls threaten fishermen all the time.

            Certainly that is seizure by force projection.

          • Andre

            Well it’s harassment to be sure, but at a threshold short of military conflict. The Philippines still has the capabilities to maintain its presence on Philippine-occupied features (which in several instances are outside of any EEZ), and China would have to start a shooting war to stop this.

        • Curtis Conway

          One is “Proactive” or “Reactive”. After saving the planet from itself (TWICE) the US has set up the combatant commands (COCOM) where we, in league with our Allies in the regions, maintain a presence so that there is no negative effect. The Cops on the Beat. Otherwise one creates a vacuum, and then guess what happens? Saw it in the Middle East, Africa, and more importantly in Europe. This is ‘maintaining liberty’ business, and once lost only the expenditure of human capital (Blood) can get it back. I for one, am tired of me and mine paying the price at great cost, then having the politicians giving it away to make a point . . . that has to be reclaimed at the expenditure of more blood. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and love thy neighbor as thyself for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

          • Andre

            Ah where do I begin?

            The American “maintenance” of liberty is highly selective, as many people in the developing world know.

            The biggest American bloodletting was during the Civil War, and no war since has come close to the scale of those casualties. In both World Wars, the United States fought as part of coalitions and did not face the same existential threats or suffer the same casualties or destruction as its allies.

            Now, the United States was essential in the defeat of National Socialist Germany and Imperial Japan, but how does this relate to an EEZ dispute where even in the event of a conflict between claimants, the US would only get involved if Taiwan Island or the Philippine home islands were directly attacked?

          • Curtis Conway

            “The biggest American bloodletting was during the Civil War…” and we solved the problem of slavery in our country for all time, except there are those who just can’t live with the responsibility of liberty, self-determination, and accounting for one’s own actions. So they blame all their problems on everyone else. But that is a separate issue from “saving the planet from itself (TWICE) in WWI & WWII. Stick to the argument.
            “…the defeat of National Socialist Germany and Imperial Japan…” let to the creation of this little organization that you MAY have heard of called the United Nations. They held a convention and most all attendees signed the agreement we call United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and China is among the signatories. That agreement is what was quoted in the judgements rendered today, so if you actually read it, the meaning is clear, and the Philippines HAVE clearly been wronged for some of these ‘features’ claimed by China as [now constructed] sovereign territory is within the Philippine EEZ.
            As for fishing, context is everything. The poorest, smallest, least capable nations to take advantage of expending resources and creating their own food, fish for sustenance . . . in the South China Sea. The Chinese fishing fleet protected by the Chinese Coast Guard has been poaching fishing grounds in other countries EEZs for decades. Now they have a 10,000 ton Coast Guard Cutter to help with the intimidation. Can you imagine being in your little fishing boat trying to make a living, and here comes this towering 10,000 ton Coast Guard Cutter steaming up to you and asked why you are fishing in Chinese waters, when you are miles from your own coast line, and 600 miles from China? This has been the Philippine dilemma for over a decade.

          • Andre

            1. The United States did not “save the world” twice

            2. The UN is only slightly better than the LON at effecting international order

            3. The PRC signed on to UNCLOS with reservations

            4. The UNSC is the prime arbiter of the UN and any resolution to enforce the PCA ruling will be vetoed

            5. The US lost to Nicaragua at the ICJ in 1986 and there were no consequences

            6. China is a bully, but does that mean the US should take the lead on provoking China without an objective in mind or even a plan to resolve the tensions in the area?

          • incredulous1

            So now we see that you are simply anti-US, That would explain everything, in which case I am not going to argue in a pointless discussion.

          • Andre

            That’s rich, considering that I spend most of my time combating irrational anti-Americanism…

          • Curtis Conway

            1. Take the US out of the equation in either war and different HiStories would exist, and in the second case, we would probably be speaking German . . . once the nuclear fall-out dispersed.
            2. I’m no fan of the UN but that is all we got, except for unilateral action, which the US does on a regular basis based upon principle, at least until recently.
            3. Reservations or no, they signed the agreement. They refused to go to arbitration (belligerent big thing they are), and then lie about there not being a problem in the first place with every neighboring country in the South China Sea bolstering their defense spending, and seeking help from others like Australia, Japan, India, and even the US.
            4. So that makes it right . . . right? That attitude would have let Hitler take over the planet.
            5. I don’t care. The US Government decided it wasn’t worth the cost, hate and discontent, which is an example the Chinese should consider. The Chinese accuse the US of the very activity they are guilty of . . . creating a hegemony in the region. We are there to preserve and defend self determination by the local powers, and giant China is there to COERCE everyone with their opinion and desires.
            6. Your observation is based upon a false assumption. The US Government generally, and the US Navy specifically has a goal and plans with our Allies in the region.

          • Andre

            RE:

            1. Actually, the US would have defeated Japan much sooner and still developed atomic weapons first, Germany would have been contained and the Soviet Union would have been much weaker and truncated. The most substantial negative impacts would have been for German-occupied continental Europe and the Soviet Union.

            2. Each time the US acts unilaterally, it undermines the international order and encourages revisionist states.

            3. See the UNCLOS document. China is arguing sovereignty not a revision of UNCLOS provisions. Having said that, the PCA ruled on sovereignty and economic exclusivity.

            4. The alternative is for the US to form a separate collective security organization with democratic states, which would result in the same problems that plagued the LON

            5. China sees unilateral action in opposition to the UN part of the perks of great power status. When the US was a “young” great power, it certainly did not act in the interests of its neighbors’ self-determination, if you recall.

            6. What I am saying is that there is no benefit to excessively confronting China. Now if China declares an ADIZ or a maritime exclusion zone, constructs military facilities in the Spratlys, or deploys military assets to the Spratlys, that should elicit a response. The only allies in the SCS are the Philippines and Taiwan, neither of which can meaningfully project power into the region.

            I think that we can all agree that the disputed area of the SCS has until recently been uninhabited, has few if any habitable islands, has been subject to use, claims and administration by a multitude of states throughout history, and has great swathes that are well beyond the scope of any country’s rightful EEZ under UNCLOS. Therefore, the Sea needs to be shared equitably, and whether China is the most powerful claimant or not, or is a bully or not, is immaterial given that all of the claimants have gone beyond international norms or laws in one form or another, from land reclamation to military occupation to settlement.

            In that context, the US should be wary of extending its protection beyond sovereign and recognized Taiwanese and Philippine territory, and being drawn into the dispute. The US has not taken a side in either the ECS or SCS disputes other than to encourage multilateral resolution and discourage use of force. When Germany gave Austria-Hungary a “blank cheque” to invade and occupy Serbia, it brought itself into conflict with Russia, and ultimately the Entente Cordiale. When Great Britain and France allowed Germany to militarize the Rhineland, annex Austria and annex the Sudetenland, subsequent Anglo-French deterrence was of little value to Poland, Denmark and Norway.

            The US must walk a fine line between preventing China from coercing or attacking other countries, and ensuring that it is an honest broker rather than a champion of their interests.

          • Curtis Conway

            “…constructs military facilities in the Spratlys…”. What is Fiery Cross with its 10,000’ runway, and the HF radar site on Cuarteron Reef at the South end of the claimed territory? How about the new ASW Helo base on Duncan Island, and the expansion on Woody Island, that has already had expeditionary fighter and bomber traffic?

            “I think that we can all agree that the disputed area of the SCS has until recently been uninhabited,…” The South China Sea is a veritable plethora of fishing grounds distributed amongst the shoal waters and reefs, and has been traditional fishing grounds by resident states around the periphery of the SCS, for literally centuries, until recently. The Chinese have fished their local fisheries to nothing, and encroached slowly on everyone else over the last two decades. Now they use their Coast Guard to shew everyone away so the Chinese fishing fleet can get its fill.

            I agree . . . let’s share the fisheries equitably. THAT is not what the Chinese are doing. They moved in and claimed it all. They have been buying silence in the surrounding governments until the associated economies of those nations started suffering, and fishing is more than just economic activity for most involved. It’s how most all feed their populations, which is also true of China, and that is why the Chinese fishing fleet ranges from the East Coast of Africa to Alaskan waters.

            “Each time the US acts unilaterally, it undermines the international order and encourages revisionist states.” Here is the rub. Far too much HiStory gives rights to those of influence and money without regard to those most affected. In this case the Bully (China) is affecting a lot of people in more than one country, in more ways than one. All of the ASEAN states are investing significant amounts of treasure in defense spending when they should be supporting economic development (one of the missions of COCOMs that are supposed to prevent this), and they do it out of necessity driven by Chinese adventurism in the SCS. This activity is good for the Military Industrial Complex . . . perhaps that is what this is all about!

          • Andre

            1. Thus far, the runway on Fiery Cross is civilian. Developments on Cuarteron Reef are clearly military in nature and there should be weekly FONs around that one…

            2. Duncan and Wood Islands are in the Paracels, which are already militarized, and which only concern Vietnam and China.

            3. Lots of countries over-fish, including many US allies. Remember the Cod Wars of the North Atlantic? It’s not worth deploying a Carrier Strike Group for

          • Curtis Conway

            You know Andre, you should just write-off the South China Sea and stop commenting. You don’t care about those people anyway. Have you ever been there? I have. You should really spend some time with the Philippine fishing fleet on the SCS side of Palawan Island, and listen to their stories of what has been going on for decades.

          • Andre

            And you should visit the fields of eastern Ukraine and learn about how Russia has tried to dominate Ukraine for centuries…And we can visit Syria together where Assad ignores the ceasefire and ethnically cleanses via artillery shell and barrel bomb…or we can go to Africa, where if only the US got a little involved, we could sort out the Great Lakes conflict, replace Mugabe with a democratic regime and oust Bashir from Khartoum…

            The US cannot make hard-done by Filipino fisherman the hinge of its grand strategy in the Asia-Pacific…

          • Curtis Conway

            Well . . . that is in progress if you like it or not. AFRICOM was stood up for a reason, and as long as this administration is in charge we will see nothing happen there save fighting viruses.

          • Andre

            One has to pick one’s battles. GWB pursued operations in Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan, high-end capabilities, confronting China’s post-2009 “assertiveness” and Russia’s invasion of Georgia (outside of expelling Georgian forces from S. Ossetia). He was successful with non-proliferation efforts in Libya and N. Korea (temporarily), but Obama has approached foreign policy (when not weighing in on race relations) from a global view. How do I know Obama’s foreign policy has been relatively successful? No one’s happy. The Russians and Chinese feel that the US is too aggressive, American allies feel supported but still responsible for their own defense, and US officials on the ground are asking for more. It’s called compromise. If all of the US hawks had their way, the US would be fighting wars in Crimea, Iran and the South China Sea right now…

            We need hawks to draw attention to critical issues and approach their issues with passion. But we need someone balanced and dispassionate at the helm.

          • Curtis Conway

            “If all of the US hawks had their way, the US would be fighting wars in Crimea, Iran and the South China Sea right now…” No one has a ‘perfect crystal ball’. However, I agree that Hawks would have had us in a shooting war in Georgia, and in my opinion rightly so, for we made a promise to those people and didn’t keep it.
            I don’t think anyone wants to fight IN Iran. Conducting a strike against Iran is certainly within the realm of the reasonable based solely on their behavior, as compared to their words. Iran is already engaged across the globe and most people don’t even know it, or recognize it. The Iranians are very talented.
            As for the South China sea, we are reaping what we did not sew. Presence was withdrawn and tacitly gave China a pass on island building, and did nothing about it during most of the building process, much to the detriment to our Allies in the region. It is all about resources, and the Philippines has not shown a propensity to develop them, except for fishing which is having the greatest effect on the population. No, the United States has not done enough in the South China Sea in the past, is trying to play catch-up, and a ‘fait accompli’ (built islands) is already in effect. Can’t un-ring the bell, like you can’t bring a dead and buried coral reef back to life. However, the Chinese activities in the SCS is part of a greater construct with larger implications and it all ends at Taiwan. The intent is to surround Taiwan to the extent possible, and they are succeeding with our tacit (passive) help.
            Liberty, once lost, can only be regained by the shedding of blood.
            Your statement about “But we need someone balanced and dispassionate at the helm” could not be more accurate . . . and it is not true today. This administration has an agenda, and what it sees as its objective falls far short of what reality requires.

          • life form

            Some of what you wrote seems reasonable to me but I have to part company with you after this post.

            China’s goals in the SCS are often stated, (ble national soil, indisputable sovereignty, Chinese lake, etc.) and if you seriously assert that the fiery Cross runway is civilian, i have to disagree. What civilian planes have landed at Fiery Cross?

            Maybe the CCPPD position is that the Paracels concern only Vietnam and China, because the CCP keeps trying to insist on only bi lateral negotiations, where China can push around smaller nations one by one. Well, all that’s water under the bridge now.

            I think the CCP is surprised that it was not able to continue to divide and conquer. i think the CCP is surprised at how quickly Vietnam. Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Brunei the PH, and Australia aligned with each other, and the US and Japan.

          • Andre

            From what I recall 2 civilian planes have landed on Fiery Cross. The point is not that China is a bully, the point is that the threshold for American intervention in what is someone else’s fight (there are many disputes and aggressions ongoing throughout the world) should be restricted to the Philippine home islands. Having said that, the US could and should arm Manila with AShMs and SAMs which can cover the disputed area from the home islands. Therefore, if China wants to seize Scarborough Shoal, it would need to attack the Philippines itself, therefore precipitating an American response.

        • incredulous1

          Do you honestly want to wait to see how this plays out? Do you honestly think China cares about nav aids and light houses? Once they complete the strategic triangle to effect control of the entire area, they will not only establish another ADIZ -given the SAM sites they have installed, but they will also institute yet another blockade as they have against the Philippines whom we are obligated to defend. AND, there is plenty of evidence indicating that they want more than fish and mineral access.
          We cannot permit that or anything even close to it for our own self-interest as you describe, but also to our trading partners and treaty allies, including Japan.

          • Andre

            1. The US cannot prevent China from installing SAMs and AShCMs on its occupied features in the SCS, short of war. However, the US can ensure that the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are provided with offsetting capabilities. While the US may not be able to keep the SCS de-militarized, it can certainly transform it into a no-man’s land where all military assets from all claimants are at risk.

            2. China may blockade Philippine-occupied features, but the US can provide logistical support to isolated garrisons.

            3. As far as blockades of trade are concerned, Chinese developments in the SCS do not impact the US-led coalition’s ability to enforce a maritime blockade on China. Nor does China require the SCS to become a “Chinese lake” in order to blockade the Philippines.

            4. The US is not obligated to defend Manila’s disputed territorial claims or economic rights beyond its existing territorial land, waters and airspace.

            5. Japan is not involved in the SCS dispute.

        • Curtis Conway

          This very statement is made from the position of understanding that one can trust the regional power that ‘claims control’ over the waterway (International Waters). HiStory is replete with examples of such situations where the desired result did not transpire, and blood was shed to prove the point, and regain the right to International Waters (e.g., FONOPS). Pro-activity is required and that is why the COCOMs exist. The comment is like the ‘Blind leading the blind’, without consideration for the reality on the ground (or water in this case).

          • Andre

            Again, per my unanswered reply to incredulous1:

            1. The US cannot prevent China from installing SAMs and AShCMs on its occupied features in the SCS, short of war. However, the US can ensure that the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are provided with offsetting capabilities. While the US may not be able to keep the SCS de-militarized, it can certainly transform it into a no-man’s land where all military assets from all claimants are at risk.

            2. China may blockade Philippine-occupied features, but the US can provide logistical support to isolated garrisons.

            3. As far as blockades of trade are concerned, Chinese developments in the SCS do not impact the US-led coalition’s ability to enforce a maritime blockade on China. Nor does China require the SCS to become a “Chinese lake” in order to blockade the Philippines (aircraft on Hainan Island, nearby warships and submarines).

            4. The US is not obligated to defend Manila’s disputed territorial claims or economic rights beyond its existing territorial land, waters and airspace.

            5. The US has an ADIZ and procedures for contact in the air and at sea that both Russian and China violate regularly without resulting in conflict.

            6. The very presence of one or more CSGs in the Western Pacific signals that the US is prepared to back its security commitments.

          • Curtis Conway

            1. “While the US may not be able to keep the SCS de-militarized, it can certainly transform it into a no-man’s land where all military assets from all claimants are at risk.” This is rich. Proactive Presence has an associated cost. That cost goes up 10X with your solution. Interested in the weapons sales are we? Then, if anything happens what of the blood shed. We see where this value system goes.
            2. “China may blockade Philippine-occupied features, but the US can provide logistical support to isolated garrisons.” We didn’t do that for the Philippine Marines on the old rusty ship, and we are not doing that for the Philippine Fishing Fleet in ‘their own waters’ today. However, Chinese activities have been curtailed with our presence, which should have been there all along to prevent this eventuality. Once again . . . investing in the future results? I would invest in it, but on the opposite side of this equation.
            3. I cannot help but think of the International Maritime Operations Center (IMOC) concept at this juncture. If China joins the activities, then we know their intentions to be peaceful. If they do not join, then that can only mean one thing.
            4. This is true. However, The Philippines is our Neighbor. We do unto others as we wish for them to do unto us. Our own jurisprudence convicts us if we stand by and let them be abused.
            5. The same is happening off the coast of China and Russia. There are international norms of conduct, and the Chinese and Russians are breaking the thresholds of those norms more aggressively, and on a more frequent basis lately. Message?
            6. The CSG is indeed a message, and has an associated cost. A Large-deck Aviation Platform, USS America (LHA-6) with an augmented Marine Air Group on board (F-35B strong) can accomplish the same mission for far less cost, send the same message, and in the case of conflict, hold the fort until the 7th Fleet Responds in force. A MAGTF in the Philippines perhaps?

    • Binhatter

      Further to another time and place ….. yes you have the same person. As a middle aged bloke from the Anglosphere who can see all our faults and failings, and that no issue is B&W. I am so surprised AT can allow such obnoxious, one eyed comments. Unless (of course) it’s better to monitor people who make putrid comments.
      Anyway, let’s lift a glass to mockery !

      • Andre

        Bite their legs off mate

    • Joseph Tan

      No reason? What till China give you a bloody nose, then you will regret of your statement. Look at the mess US had already created – Mid- East, Afghanistan, Libya, ISIS, and now the Black Sea? No reason again???? See what mess that US had created for her (as well as to her allies) !!!

  • sferrin

    Every time the US does one of these idiotic “innocent passages” all it does is lend credibility to China’s claims. We’re effectively saying, “we recognize your territorial claims and are performing an innocent passage”. These should have NEVER been “innocent passages” but Freedom of Navigation exercises, and they should have specifically been advertised as such.

    • incredulous1

      I actually have to agree with you about the ineffectual US FonOps. But that is Obama’s stupidity and compliance with backroom deals with XI Jinping to which no one will ever admit. Some things are just so obvious they needn’t be stated, so long as you subscribe to the Rational Actor Theory.

  • The Norseman

    Asia Pacific nations will be unwilling to challenge the Chinese governments illegal actions if they do not believe the USA will protect them. There are many US interests and many other countries interest at stake here. It’s a completely aggressive land & power grab by the communist dictatorship ruling over the Chinese right now that is causing all of this. This is why dictatorships are so bad.
    The USA can demonstrate it’s commitment to Asia Pacific nations and give them assurance by publicly challenging the Chinese governments expansionism and intimidation (aka enforcing international law).

    If the price of peace is letting a smooth criminal have his way with your possessions and sovereignty, then you are just a vassal state paying tribute on demand. It is not the victim that is warmongering when they engage in self-defense.

    • Curtis Conway

      “…then you are just a vassal state paying tribute on demand.” There is this legal term that describes said activity, and it’s called “Extortion and Theft”.

    • Joseph Tan

      US play with fire, US will be burnt with fire – irrespective whether Obama, Trump (or Lose) or Hillary will be in office.

      • The Norseman

        I sincerely believe we will find out.
        Neither are afraid because one side knows how overwhelmingly superior it’s military is, while the other isn’t afraid because it’s government doesn’t care if millions of the people it rules over die. But, the USA is far far from alone, so it won’t be just the USA. Just about every East Asian nation, except N. Korea, Cambodia, and Laos, want’s the PRC’s expansionism stopped. Anyone with access to and reads the free-press knows this.

        Any use of armed force by the PLAN or PLAAF against an ally or attempt to blockade Taiwan risks the collapse of the Chinese dictatorship because of the magnitude of defeat they will suffer. However, the greatest ally will not be Japan, Vietnam, S. Korea, etc…. The greatest ally will be the common Chinese people themselves who are sick of the corruption, deceit, and false indoctrination the CPC shoves down people’s throat from early childhood.

        But, there is actually one simple thing the communist party dictatorship can do to achieve a victory more glorious than they can imagine. They can hold free and fair elections.

        • Joseph Tan

          Tim, you are wrong. Just like Christianity prospers in spite of persecution and prosecution, Chinese tend to rise in spite of the suffering. Ally change when the shot is fire.On politic there is no forever friend, neither is forever enemy. But it is forever self-interest.
          US achieved greatness because she watch from the side-lines,.while other battles with their lives. She came in whilst all were either fully or semi exhausted in both WW1 &WW2. US can ‘r even take over Iraq, and Afghanistan. What makes you think she can take over China?

          Remember – China do not want a fight. But US sailed thousands of miles together with his big bull dogs at another front yard deciding the dogs to bite at the release of the leash.

          As as property owner or neighbour, what must you do? Bring out a big stick to hit the dogs, of course!

          • The Norseman

            No, Wumao, you are wrong. And, of course, the PLAN is going to be the one
            hit with the big stick for building military bases on another’s property. No
            civilized nation believes the absolute absurdity (except for some land-locked
            developing African nations that don’t even know where the SCS is) that all the
            sudden the PRC owns and controls almost an entire body of international waters one to two thousand km away from China, which the entire world uses. Shameless absurdity.

            The biggest deception is the CPC convincing the Chinese that the CPC IS
            China and that the USA and the West are enemies of China. They have been very successful in convincing many Chinese of this.

            USA achieved it’s position in the world because it was a trade nation representing half of the entire worlds economy at the end of WW II and invented vast amounts of technology that made it the most productive and changed the lives of everyone. It has a political system that ensures the free flow of ideas that are not suppressed by the government because the government feels like it’s absolute power is being threatened. This is a modern form of government instead of one still using primitive authoritarianism like the CPC.

            I never said the USA was going to “take over China.” That’s left to the common Chinese people as soon as the pro-democracy reformers inside and outside the government confront the failed revanchist ultra-nationalists that are drunk on power thinking their rightful place is the center of the universe.

            FYI The USA defeated Japan and saved China from Japan. It was not the Chinese communists that defeated Japan, as they teach the Chinese people. It was the USA. The defeat of Germany was more of an allied effort, of course after the USSR’s pact with Germany failed. Each of the UK, USSR, and USA had a decisive role that could have given Germany victory had each not played a part. Before the USA’s active involvement, it was the Lend-Lease Act giving huge amounts of munitions and war material to the UK and Russia.

            Seriously, your version of history is so typical anti-American propaganda.

            Without taking any position on whether it was justified, Iraq is a democracy
            now and has been for a decade. Afghanistan is a democracy now and has been for a decade. The goal was never ever to “take over.” Afghanistan had no
            navy to be sunk or air-force to shoot down. Iraq’s air-force was destroyed or
            rendered inoperable within a week and had no navy. Air-forces and navies are a bit easier to see than the difference between goat-herders and Taliban.

            The PRC does have a navy and an air-force and they would be almost defenseless against vastly superior technology. Vastly superior. Even the DF-21 ASBM was defeated before it even reached operational capability.

            Lastly, no… the PLA DOES want to fight. They do want war and they are
            preparing for it with the most rapid arms buildup that resembles 1930’s Germany. It will not be long before they make their move on Taiwan.

            Any attempt by the PRC to enforce control of the SCS will be met with enforcement of international law by a much much more capable military. And once one person sticks up to the bully, then everyone sticks up to the bully.

          • Joseph Tan

            I have already reply, Sanmao. They did not published my comment, Sanmao …..

  • Ako Madamosiya 毛むくじゃら

    Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, both with airstrips are not even entitled to 12 mile territorial sea. At best 500 meters. The rest of the waters are suppose to be the Philippines’ so China should not be squacking anymore and the US should not be timid in exercising the legal and binding ruling.

  • vincedc

    We have enough problems already. We don’t need to pick a fight with China solely for the purpose of picking a fight with China.