Adm. Harry Harris is proposing a muscular U.S. response to China’s island-building that may include launching aircraft and conducting military operations within 12 miles of these man-made islands, as part of an effort to stop what he has called the “Great Wall of Sand” before it extends within 140 miles from the Philippines’ capital, sources say.
Harris and his U.S. Pacific Command have been waging a persistent campaign in public and in private over the past several months to raise the profile of China’s land grab, accusing China outright in February of militarizing the South China Sea.
But the Obama administration, with just nine months left in office, is looking to work with China on a host of other issues from nuclear non-proliferation to an ambitious trade agenda, experts say, and would prefer not to rock the South China Sea boat, even going so far as to muzzle Harris and other military leaders in the run-up to a security summit.
Tip to Instapundit.
And note that what the admiral wants to do in regard to moving military assets within 12 miles of Chinese-claimed (and man-made) territory seems to answer my question of whether we are really engaging in freedom of navigation exercises there--we have not.
Conducting military operations is the heart of a freedom of navigation exercise that denies another state's claimed sovereignty as opposed to an innocent passage through another country's territorial waters or air space with all weapons systems shut down.
So praise be that we will deploy all 3 of our new super "destroyers" to the Pacific:
All three of the new Zumwalt class of stealthy destroyers -- the Zumwalt currently undergoing trials and two others yet to be built -- will be assigned to the Pacific as part of the rebalance of U.S. forces to the region to promote stability and counter China, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Friday.
Now our best surface ship can do nothing, too!
All three have to go to one theater to make sure one is always on station as one or two are in port preparing for sea duty.
But if we aren't going to stand in China's way, we might as well put them in the Atlantic.