We will challenge China in the South China Sea:
The Obama administration will soon order Navy warships to patrol near man-made islands constructed by China in the South China Sea, a U.S. warning that it will not accept Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the heavily traveled waters, officials said.
The decision about the size and composition of the force has yet to be made.
As I said, whatever we send needs nearby forces in support just in case:
No American ship sent to challenge the illegal 12-mile limits around artificial islands should go alone. It should have plenty of backup nearby.
And we should have means short of force to keep Chinese non-military vessels away from our ship carrying out the challenge.
Heck, I'd put a sizable Marine contingent on whatever ship we send in case the Chinese try to board the vessel after disabling it by ramming or fouling the propellers.
And in the bigger picture, this is a kind of support, too:
The Japanese Maritime-Self Defense Force (JMSF) will join the Indian and American navies in this year’s installment of the Malabar naval exercise held in the Bay of Bengal, the Business Standard reports.
An announcement will be made shortly re-designating what had hitherto been officially an Indian-U.S. bilateral military exercise into a trilateral India-U.S.-Japan event, according to the Business Standard.
China must not be comfortable that a confrontation with any single nation or even a single ship won't bring in this powerful naval coalition against them.