US Navy and China faceoffs – disturbing

This is… unsettling.

From Express:

China fires SIX WARNINGS to US Navy in South China Sea ‘This is China…LEAVE IMMEDIATELY’
THE Chinese military told a US Navy plane flying over the highly-disputed island in the South China Sea to “leave immediately”.

The US Navy P-8A Poseidon jet was flying at 16,500 feet to get a view of low-lying coral reefs that have been turned into garrisons with five-storey buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.

During the flight that was giving journalists from CNN a rare look at the islands, the crew was warned six times by the Chinese military to get out of their territory.

A voice said: “US military aircraft, this is China … leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding.”

Each time the aircraft was challenged by the Chinese military, the US Navy crew’s response was the same.

The repsonse was: “I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state.

“In exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”
CNN was granted the chance to see how the Chinese government is rapidly expanding its militarisation efforts from a US reconnaissance plane when the harsh threat was issued.

The US Navy jet had flown over four key artifical islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.


China is building up … stuff all over the world. I understand they built a huge antenna array in Mexico. They are building bases on artificial islands all along the sea lanes in the S. Pacific.

A good thing?

Si vis pacem para bellum!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. VonOrigen says:

    At some point, Sec. Mattis and Congress will realize that the 1920s British conservative-style parsimonious approach to defense spending is fatal to long-term U.S. security interests in the Pacific. A 600-ship Navy is not an aspiration, it’s now a matter of survival. As such, build ships, build ships, build more ships. Let Japan beef up its navy. Provide funding to Australia and other U.S. allies to kick-start their shipbuilding programs. Cut deals with the Philippines and Vietnam to reopen Subic and establish a U.S. naval presence at Cam Ranh Bay. This is like watching the Peloponnesian War unfold all over again.

  2. John Grammaticus says:

    I suppose the only good point is that neither China nor the US are in any financial state to fight a protracted conflict

  3. Dismas says:

    In the days of Abraham, was Sodom ever at peace? There are many ways to prevent the Church from defection, no matter how many Lavender Mafiosi control the levers of power.

    Some of them are not so pleasant. The events of 1347-53 come to mind as well.

  4. adriennep says:

    Yes, unsettling and disturbing indeed. But just as bad is China’s cultural infiltration on the “artificial islands” of our US universities, with their Confucius Institutes having established surveillance camps here on our land for years now. They even took over a local Catholic private high school. It has even been warned about in Congress yet still allowed to continue under “cultural exchange” cover. They give millions to the cash-starved universities (including Stanford), teach a little Mandarin with their own Manchurian Candidate spies, and get permanent base camps here, ready to respond at their bidding at any time.

  5. JesusFreak84 says:

    But WE’RE the isolationists being unreasonable to poor, widdle China, as far as the rest of the world is concerned *eyeroll*

  6. Dismas says:

    VonOrigen: Ships crewed by whom? We have difficulty reaching numbers of warm breathing bodies just to hold off attrition. Of those, we have had problems with test cheating on critical seamanship skills, such as basic navigation. I have atrong doubts regarding the security of strategic and tactical information, besides, of course, PRC moles at high levels (consider who has been responsible for promotions for eight years) Lastly, I would even hazard that 35% of those living in the US are sufficiently indoctrinated to side with the PRC against their own countrymen.

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stand tall against Chinese aggression, as I believe that actual war would not be in their own best interests. They know that the West is imploding, and need only wait 10 years or so to take whatever they want. That said, their window for conquest will be closing in 20-30 years, as the One Child Policy bites them in the backside.

  7. tho says:

    We are reaping what we haves sown. Electing presidents on the basis of what goodies they can deliver to our welfare recipients. Allowing social experiments in our armed forces, using affirmative action promotions, where the cream cannot rise to the top. Materially we may be a strong nation, but from my experience, a lot of good people will leave any institution that uses social criteria, instead of ability, for advancement. Presidents like Eisenhower and Reagan would never have tolerated such land grabbing, but the JFKs (God rest his soul) and LBJs, along with Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama are recipes for disaster. Now the Philippines have elected a half wit, where do we stand.
    China has built a base that threaten all maritime traffic in the South China Sea. and our country is obsessing on Russian collusion, whatever that is. Poor leadership begets such spitting in the eye of what used to be a great nation.

  8. joekstl says:

    A poster thinks our defense spending is “parsimonious.” We spend as much on defense and armaments as the next seven countries combined. That means, apparently, that we’re wasting tons of money, not that our military is underfunded.

  9. Kathleen10 says:

    We are a divided people. It is a tragedy that of all the possible scenarios for the US falling apart, no one would have seen the present one coming, that we would eventually consider our fellow Americans as aliens from other planets due to our ideological differences. China has no such dissent, whatever the godless Chinese government wants to do, it does.
    What makes it all worse, is our own government allowed the buildup of China with our rotten former trade agreements. We made it happen. All those cheap, Chinese junkie things Americans have bought helped China build military installations. Good plan. I’m so glad President Trump understands how the world actually works and corrected that.

  10. iamlucky13 says:

    @ Dismas
    “VonOrigen: Ships crewed by whom? We have difficulty reaching numbers of warm breathing bodies just to hold off attrition.”

    You might even say that the US Military has had a form of vocation crisis like the Church has.

    There’s some interesting parallels. I do think military service can be as much a vocation as it is a mere job. Even those who only serve short terms take on an identity we recognize as distinct from civilians or lay persons.

    I might as well continue the analogy: The military’s traditions and disciplines help to form the identity of its members. Its duties can not be taken lightly as they deal with grave consequences. The morale of its members is affected by how they are led – whether the leaders hold their members and themselves to a high standard, and whether the hierarchy defends them against challenges to those standards and holds accountable those who violate it. It’s also affected by whether that leadership is focused on worldly or trivial matters like congressional budget cycles and how people address each other, or extraordinary and serious matters like the combat they have to always be prepared for, because they may not know ahead of time when the need to be ready is coming.

    The US military has had internal struggles to deal with like the Church has, and words beginning with “V” have gotten a lot of discussion in both. While the Church was trying figure out what the lessons of Vatican II were and how to revitalize itself, the military was trying to figure out what the lessons of the Vietnam War were and how to restore the effectiveness that had waned in recent decades. The military even successfully did turn itself around, up through the end of the Cold War, hence in part why the Persian Gulf War turned out very different from the Vietnam War. Parts of the Church have also re-examined what has weakened it and what has strengthened it.

  11. Simon_GNR says:

    joekstl says: “We spend as much on defense and armaments as the next seven countries combined.”

    Not only that, but the USA’s defence spending as a percentage of GDP (3.5%) exceeds any of its NATO allies, which are supposed to be spending 2%. My country, the United Kingdom, is one of the few that does meet the 2% target, but only by way of some clever creative accounting which now classifies the cost of pension provision for Ministry of Defence civil servants as military expenditure! It is shameful the way the NATO countries expect the USA to keep spending as much as it does on defence but fail to meet the spending commitments they have made.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    China has indeed been busy lately in the South China Sea amongst the strategic shipping lanes and natural resources. Here’s an article about its “magic island-making” ship:

    Vietnam has now begun building its own island. China and Vietnam have clashed before over islands. Recently the Phillipines have protested China’s seizure/detention of Phillipine fishing vessels/cargos by Chinese “Coast Guard” ships.

    Two characteristics of Empire are annexing territory and plundering natural resources. In the South China Sea, China is seizing internationally-disputed reefs to create military bases. Then there is Russia, which annexed the Ukraine and is militarily active in the Arctic.

    This brings up, as several commenters noted, the US military budget. True, there is waste and fraud as with any large institution, but there are also prosecutions and prison sentences.

    The US military budget is equal in dollars to the next six or seven countries combined. However, in terms of GDP the US ranked at #25 in 2016 with a 3.29% expenditure of GDP. Russia ranked #8 at 5.4% of GDP. China ranked #50 at 1.9% of GDP. This budget picture is incomplete though, as the behaviors of these two regimes (among many other things) are an important factor when developing a US national security strategy and budget.

    To shift gears a bit, here is an article with military budget implications by the “Daily News-Miner” of Fairbanks, Alaska regarding Russian expansion in the Arctic and Congressional funding for US icebreaker ships:

    The US military with its global commitments, advanced technology, and professional personnel is expensive. It must operate satellites and submarines, and train in desert, mountain, urban, Arctic, and jungle terrain. It must be prepared for, to name a few contingencies: major combat operations, disaster relief, show of force, freedom of navigation, evacuation of embassies and non-combatants, hostage rescue, raids, and training and exercises with foreign militaries.

    This requires an infrastructure for: recruiting, training, advanced training and education, personnel management, medical services, base and installation management, maintenance and repair of equipment, supply and logistics, weapons and ammunition research and development plus production, compliance with Congressional and environmental regulations, etc.

    For example, providing a pilot SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) training improves the pilot’s morale, confidence, and battlefield performance. Marine Expeditionary Units train for TRAP (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel). This requires: allotting training days/nights, training areas, ammunition and fuel, and the wear and tear on aircraft, ships, and occasionally personnel.

    Another example is jungle training. When Pres. Carter signed the Panama Canal over to Panama in the 1970s the US Army lost its Jungle Warfare School at Ft. Sherman in 1999 (the Marine Corps maintained a small school on Okinawa). In the last four years or so the Army has been rebuilding its jungle warfare skills. Quotes from a 2017 article:

    “…at a time when ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups are gaining traction in the Pacific region, specifically in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.”

    “…One difference is sound. While the desert wars are synonymous with the rumble of armored Humvees, here in the jungle soldiers listen for trickling water, shifting leaves and the light thud of boots on the ground.”

    One last item. The Soviets/Russians and the Chinese have saved quite a bit of money by stealing Western military technology. See: “KGB Line X”, “Moonlight Maze”, and “Titan Rain”. The Chinese apparently stole 50 terabytes of US government and military data including stealth technology:

    My two cents: The US, its allies, and world peace would benefit by a reasonable increase of military and cyber-security budgets. US allies should also increase their spending, most are under 2% GDP. A reasonable increase sooner is preferable to a massive wartime expenditure later.

  13. tho says:

    Semper Gumby: All the money in the world will not bring in quality people. Our country is disrespected every Sunday by the NFL. Our active duty men do not play well with active duty women. Nor do our officers appreciate being put in the back of the line because they are white. End social promotion and homosexual playmates, it is destroying a proud heritage. The officers who led us to an overwhelming victory in WWII, would never have tolerated the fiasco that was Viet Nam. In that war we had poor leadership from LBJ right down the line. Korea was marginal because we had General Ridgeway, and most higher officers were raised on the WWII ethos.

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    tho: I stand by my comment. Cheers.

    adriennep: Good point, those Confucius Institutes are problematic.

  15. JustaSinner says:

    Stupid Chinese, don’t they read history? What nation DEVELOPED amphibious warfare and made it an art form? Who has invaded more islands? So what do they do? Build islands!
    There are a whole bunch of us Marines salivating at taking them away from the Chinese. AND, it looks like they’ve built really nice beaches to tan on after we’re done!!!

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    JustaSinner: Good point and I like your style. It’d be a tough fight of course, but the outcome is not in doubt.

    A WWII quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

    “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”

    Well, I’m not sure about the “filthiest minds” and “lowest morals” bit, but she was definitely on to something there.

    And the outspoken GySgt. Dan Daly made a good point in 1918 before leading a charge at Belleau Wood (“C’mon you s.o.b.s, who wants to live for ever?”). The good Sergeant was in the thick of things with his Marines and definitely on to something there.

    Of course, Heaven awaits, that is the goal, but all in the Lord’s good time.

    Here is double-amputee Marine Jesse Cottle and his wife Kelly Cottle:

  17. Malta says:

    I come from a military family: I signed-up during Desert Storm I, my dad was in Vietnam, my grandfather was a B-17 pilot during WWII, and flew all 26 missions they were allowed to fly over Germany; he saw his best-friend shot down, my great-uncle fought the Germans in WWI, and took the Luger off a dead German soldier, which I inherited (but sold). I know the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs are looking very carefully at the supposed “sovereign rights” of the Chinese to build artificial islands in International Waters. I swear to God (and I went to confession, so it’s a sin for me to say this if it’s not true), we have the ability to destroy the entire country of China if they aren’t careful–very careful with us. And this last provocation has definitely pissed-off our military brass.

  18. VonOrigen says:

    @joekstl…budgets? You may have heard that Iraq-istan ate up, and continues to eat up, most of the annual defense budget. Congress thinks the U.S. is still the Navy of ‘Top Gun,’ when in fact the majority of naval acquisitions over the last decade have been for the Littoral Combat Ship (otherwise known as the aluminum artillery target). So, yes, parsimonious and lacking in vision, for the most part. The newest game of Pacific chess playing out right now (hint: the Chinese have memorized Mahan and studied the Pacific War of ’41-’45) fairly cries out for the approach of integrating existing and new assets outlined by Capt. Wayne Hughes at Naval Postgrad. More than that, we need to kick up carrier builds while combining the versatility of the Arleigh Burke destroyers with the new technologies of the Zumwalt-class ships. But bluewater ships we must have, and fast. Since this is not a defense blog, and since Fr. Z has better things to do than moderate comments of armchair admirals like me, dixi.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    VonOrigen: You raised numerous topics rapidly, so with our host’s permission a close look at your comment.

    “…budgets? You may have heard that Iraq-istan ate up, and continues to eat up, most of the annual defense budget.”

    This is incorrect. The DoD base budget is far larger than the DoD budget for Overseas Contingency Operations such as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    And from a non-government website (of course, some changes since February):

    “Congress thinks the U.S. is still the Navy of ‘Top Gun,’ when in fact the majority of naval acquisitions over the last decade have been for the Littoral Combat Ship (otherwise known as the aluminum artillery target).”

    Your “Top Gun” remark is unclear. LCS ships are moving, or have moved, to steel. They may be replaced by frigates. Note that much of the world’s population, mega-cities, and almost all of its ports are in the littoral zone. There are many complexities, as no doubt you are aware. Here is a Naval Institute article on wargaming future littoral operations. The article begins by briefly looking at the evacuation of 15,000 Americans from Lebanon in the summer of 2006 by the Navy and Marine Corps.

    “So, yes, parsimonious and lacking in vision, for the most part.”

    As you know, parsimonious is up to the Congress and White House. Lacking in vision seems inaccurate, as there is always a “vision.” Time will tell if that DoD vision is accurate. Of course, reasonable people can disagree over specific budget items, DoD funding requests, and cancellations of various programs or projects.

    “The newest game of Pacific chess playing out right now (hint: the Chinese have memorized Mahan and studied the Pacific War of ’41-’45) fairly cries out for the approach of integrating existing and new assets outlined by Capt. Wayne Hughes at Naval Postgrad.”

    Speaking of Hughes, he was a co-author of a Naval Institute article exploring “network-centric warfare” in the littoral:

    “More than that, we need to kick up carrier builds while combining the versatility of the Arleigh Burke destroyers with the new technologies of the Zumwalt-class ships.”

    Not a bad plan, but first you need additional shipyards as building one aircraft carrier takes, I think, seven years. A superior destroyer is a worthy goal, though funding those along with littoral frigates, submarines, anti-submarine aircraft, etc. brings us back to the budget.

    But many published articles agree with you, VonOrigen. An increase in the “Blue-water Navy” would be helpful for peacetime operations (such as Lebanon 2006, the 2017 hurricane relief operations and many more), and would be a deterrent against hostilities.

    Another point re Fr. Z’s post. China is seizing reefs and militarizing islands in international waters not only to control shipping lanes and natural resources in the South China Sea, but also to shield its own littoral zone and secure its seaborne expansion into Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. This strategy is also known as the “One Belt One Road” or the “Maritime Silk Road.”

    That article makes a good point that China’s offensive naval behavior contradicts its “peaceful rise” and desire to be viewed as a “partner for development.”

    One last note. Robert Massie in 1991 published “Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War.” Massie, a talented writer, focuses on British and German naval activity prior to WWI, the naval strategist Mahan, Churchill, and events such as the Agadir Crisis in Morocco (Germany sent a gunboat, then a second larger warship, to Agadir to “secure its commercial interests”). Obviously, this is 2018, but Massie’s book is a great naval read nonetheless.

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