WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 48 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
SPECIAL REPORT / PARTNERS IN GLOBAL PRESENCE
The United States has continued to enhance its presence and upgrade its capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, while ensuring its posture
and the capabilities of its allies and partners are robust.
The Defense Department is focused on maintaining its ability to boost its intelligence, surveillance,
reconnaissance and patrol capabilities in the South
China Sea, and to respond in case of threats to the
Philippines or other regional partners. The matter will
be significantly increased by the Philippine Supreme
Court’s approval in January of the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation Agreement between the United States
and the Philippines, according to Gregory Poling,
director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
(AMTI) and a fellow with the Southeast Asia Studies
program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic
& International Studies (CSIS).
In a report commissioned by the Department of
Defense to revisit U.S. interests in Asia and the Pacific,
given changes in the security environment, CSIS in late
January delivered an independent
review of the nation’s defense strat-
egy, titled “Asia-Pacific Rebalance
2025: Capabilities, Presence, and
While effectively recapping U.S.
military missions in Afghanistan,
combating the Islamic State in
Iraq and Syria, dealing with “an
increasingly belligerent” Russia,
and an in-depth look at concerns
over the nation’s Arctic ambitions,
the report centers on near- and
long-term military and economic
ties between China and the United
Along with China’s robust military modernization program of the
last 20 years, the study makes
clear that underpinning any future
planning and U.S. military operations in the region is
the matter of legal outcomes — and potential contingencies — that could arise from China’s claims over
disputed territories in the South China Sea.
“By 2030, the Chinese likely will have multiple
aircraft carrier strike groups [CSGs], facilitating the
overawing of lesser powers, enhanced regional pres-
tige, and the demonstration effect of near-constant
presence,” the CSIS report states. “For rival claimants
in the South China Sea, this is a game changer. There
will almost always be a Chinese CSG floating in the
contested waters, or within a half-day’s steaming time.
Whether they have seized territory or negotiated a
resource-sharing scheme with some or all of the other
claimants, the South China Sea will be virtually a
Chinese lake, as the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico
is for the United States today.”
Indeed, while China’s island-building campaign
has moved forward full-throttle in recent years, the
Philippines, last November, argued a pivotal, if com-
U.S., China and Asia-Pacific nations wrestle
with formidable issues in the South China Sea
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent
Territorial Tangled Web
A report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies
makes it clear that underpinning any future planning and U.S.
military operations in the Asia-Pacific region is the matter of legal
outcomes — and potential contingencies — that could arise from
China’s claims over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
n The Philippines in November argued its case before the
Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against China’s reclamation activity in the South China Sea.
n A decision by the arbitral tribunal is expected in late May or
n A key concern for China and the United States involves recent
Freedom of Navigation Operations through the South China Sea
by U.S. military vessels.