Huwebes, Mayo 14, 2015

U.S plans to surround China controlled Islets in Spratly


When I saw at the Face Book account of MaxDefense several weeks ago the open house of American aircraft at the former U.S base Clark Airport, I rode shotgun the following day to see up close and personal the ballyhooed American airplanes I romanticized, when I was a boy, reading at  military magazines collected by my air force father.

CHINESE AIR BASE. Artist’s sketch of a Chinese air base at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly's Group of Islands claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. If unrestrained the Chinese would have an operational air base before year 2015 ends to host its jet fighters and bombers like the Xian H-6K bombers that could threaten with their nuclear powered missiles countries as far as Australia.

I was told, however, by a Philippine Air Force public information office (PIO) officer a certain Lieutenant Romero that I have to get a clearance first at the General Head Quarter at Camp Aguinaldo before I could start interviewing the Filipino and American forces who participate in the Balikatan 2015 or military exercise after I introduced myself and showed my I.D that I am a member of the Fourth Estate.

As I left the PIO, I bumped into a retired Air Force General who is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1977.

I told him I worked before at the PIO of the PMA and told him PMA alumni members in Pangasinan like Congressman Pol Bataoil and Governor Amado T. Espino.

“I’m from San Jacinto, Pangasinan, too,” he said.

“So you heard about that retired general near your town whose house was raided by the National Bureau of Investigation?” I posed.

He was amused about the information I gave him.

Author looking at the United States air assets at the former U.S base Clark Airport
 during the Balikatan 2015 U.S- Philippines military exercise held last April.
Aircraft at the background are (from left) A-10 Thunderbolt or Warthog,
Vertical Short Take Off/Landing AV/8B Harrier jump jets, and  Bell Boeing V-22
Osprey titlrotor aircraft. Other aircraft not in photo are C-17 Globe Master, Lockheed

C-130 Hercules transport planes,Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopters, Sikorsky UH-60
Black Hawk helicopters, and others.

He told the guards at the checkpoint of the joint HQs of the Filipinos and Americans to allow me to see the U.S and Philippine air assets that were open to the public the weekend before.

“I’ll call your commander (a general), just allow him to see those planes,” he told the guards.

If the Philippine Air Force is 90% Air and 10% Force, the U.S is 60% Force and 40% Air what with the absence of its F-16 Falcons, F/A-18 Hornets, and Stealth fighter-bombers being displayed on the tarmac there.

I saw there the  U.S giant C-17 Globe Master, AV-8A Harrier Jump Jets, three C-130, Black Hawk helicopters those messengers of death you saw on the flick “Black Hawk Down” and those two stealth choppers used by the Yanks on bringing the SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team-6 who killed NO. 1 global terrorist Osama bin Laden at the 3rd floor of the building in  Abbottabad , Pakistan, Chinook, Bell AH-1 Cobra Helicopter, some A-10 Thunderbolt “tank killer” or Whartogs, while the PAF displayed its camouflage Italian made turbo power SF 260 Marchetti training planes, couple of Italian made jets S-211 while inside the PAF hangar I saw two dark green Poland made  W-3A Sokol combat utility helicopter, two four blades S-76 Sikorsky helicopters that were purchased during the last year of the government of ousted Strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

On that day, I saw, too, a platoon of the elite Special Action Force and their American counterparts prepared themselves to enter the C-17 for parachute jump, while American officers and enlisted personnel billet themselves in style at 5-Star Hotels there like Holiday Inn, Stotsenberg, Oxford, to name a few.

I heard that a Filipino restaurant owner billed a P50 order of chicken adobo for P100 or more for American servicemen who relished the delicacy despite of the catered American food at their air-conditioned huge tents cum mess hall.

I learned from a source there that even without the Balikatan, once in awhile a squadron of F-16 Falcons or F/A-18 Hornet jets landed at Clark and stayed there for a while unknown to the Philippine media.


With the Pentagon alarmed by the construction of China of an air base at Fiery Cross Reef, and its  plan to send a U.S aircraft carrier and frigates there to protect the freedom of navigation of tankers and ships going to and from progressive countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, it would be worth watching with bated breath how the Americans would fill up the tarmac of Clark and the harbour of Subic Naval Base with modern combat armada to neutralize the Sinos who warned the U.S of consequences in case it pushes through its plan to put naval assets at Spratly anytime from now.

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts routine patrols on Monday in international waters near the Spratly Islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army-Navy guided-missile frigate Yancheng (FFG 546) sails close behind the US warship. US Pacific Fleet photo handout. 

For several weeks or months from now and before this year’s end, the development at the Spratly group’s of islands is worth watching as the Chinese reclamation and construction of a runway for its jets and bombers at Fiery Cross Reef would be operational before this year’s end.

Wall Street Journal reported last Tuesday U.S Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options that include sending aircraft and ships within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of reefs that China has been building up in the Spratly island chain.

Such a move would directly challenge Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Son of a gun, this is déjà vu Cuban Missiles Crisis in 1962!

The vast land reclamation project in Fiery Cross Reef is one of several pursued by China but the first that could accommodate an airstrip, says US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Poole.

With an airbase there, Chinese made Chengdu J-10, Russian made Sukhoi Su-30MKK , Russian made Sukhoi Su-27 Air Superiority Fighter, China made Shenyang J-8 Interceptor Fighter, China made, Chengdu J-7 Fighter/Interceptor, China made Xian JH-7 Fighter bomber, and Nanchang Q-5 close air support would no longer fly 1000 miles from Mainland China to the Spratly groups of islets just to harass claimant countries Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

These modern air assets could be at the Spratly and even its bombers could saber rattle to the Australians who live down under the globe.

Here’s Australia’s

“If China truly is building an air base — and Janes (Defense) says land 3km long and 200 to 300m wide has been reclaimed since August is “large enough to construct a runway and apron” — it even has implications for Australia. Despite being some 3200km distant, Taiwanese media has pointed out that China’s long range bomber — the Xian H-6K — can deploy with cruise missiles capable of striking “all US military facilities in Australia”.

Gee whiz, now that is not only chilling but worth watching as the U.S ships gear to sail and surround some of the islets there at the Spratly before the Chinese could finish an airbase at the Fiery Cross Reef before the year’s end.

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Everything you need to know about the South China Sea conflict - in under five minutes

 June 10, 2015 5:21am
1. Whose South China Sea is it, anyway?
China's claim to the South China Sea is based in history, dating back to records from the Xia and Han dynasties. China delineates its claims via the nine-dash line, which Chiang Kai Shek advanced in 1947. During China's republican era, China surveyed, mapped and named 291 islands and reefs in the region.
The United States contends that the South China Sea is international water, and sovereignty in the area should be determined by the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS states that countries can't claim sovereignty over any land masses that are submerged at high tide, or that were previously submerged but have been raised above high tide level by construction.
2. Why does China want to control the South China Sea?
Control of the South China Sea would allow China to dominate a major trade route through which most of its imported oil flows. It would also allow China to disrupt, or threaten to disrupt, trade shipments to all countries in East and Southeast Asia - as well as deny access to foreign military forces, particularly the United States.
The floor of the South China Sea may contain massive oil and natural gas reserves. Sovereignty over the region could give China a level of energy security and independence far beyond what it currently possesses.
3. Who has built what?
Island building in the South China Sea, and construction on existing islands, has been going on for decades, primarily by Vietnam and the Philippines, which have claimed 21 and eight islands, respectively. Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have all stationed military forces on at least some of their islands, but Vietnam, in accordance with UNCLOS regulation, has not put troops on what it calls "floating islands" - those constructed on submerged sandbars, reefs and other land masses.
China has come late to the island building game, but its efforts have been on a scale never before seen in the region. In the last 18 months, China has reportedly constructed more new island surface than all other nations have constructed throughout history. And unlike other claimants, China has, at least briefly, placed military equipment on one of its artificial islands, and officials have said that the government plans to do so again. More importantly, only China possesses enough modern military vessels to protect its claims.
4. What is the U.S. response to the dispute?
The United States had virtually no response to previous building by Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, but has vigorously opposed China's efforts. The U.S. Navy has operated continuously in the region since World War Two and, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, has every intention of continuing to do so.
The United States will use its aircraft and naval vessels to assert freedom of navigation in the region, as demonstrated by the recent passage of the USS Fort Worth combat ship and the flight, by a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, over the Chinese construction at Fiery Reef.
Beyond freedom of navigation missions, the United States is focused on strengthening regional allies. To do so, it will help boost its allies' intelligence gathering and surveillance capabilities, and provide them with updated military hardware to counter China's technical advantages in both quantity and quality. (The Philippines, the recipient of U.S. military assistance and training since World War Two, is sorely lacking in military hardware, having only two very old U.S. Coast Guard cutters with which to respond to Chinese incursions.)
Japan, in close coordination with the United States, is to supply military hardware to the Philippines and Vietnam.
5. What should the world expect next?
The dispute between the United States and China is likely to escalate to some degree. U.S. Pacific Command planners are preparing to sail and fly within 12 nautical miles of areas that China claims as sovereign territory. The USS Fort Worth and a P-8 surveillance aircraft have already operated close by, and while China objected, it did not take hostile action.
However, China has stated that it will defend what it considers its territorial limit. If the Chinese government blinks, it could suffer domestically due to the loss of face for the Communist Party. If the United States wavers, it will risk perpetuating the impression, among U.S. partners and allies, that it lacks resolve in light of its policy in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine.
The stakes are high for both sides, as is the risk of a miscalculation. The United States is marshaling major allies in the region to take a role, in the hope that the combined weight of U.S., Japanese and Australian forces will give China pause.   — Bill Johnson is a retired U.S. Air Force Officer, and a retired Foreign Service Officer. Bill was a philosophy professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy for 5 years. He served as the Senior Political Advisor for U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific from 2009-2011. Since his retirement, he has done consulting for the Naval Post-graduate School on China policy issues.

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