The United States and the Philippines have begun a two-week training exercise that includes a practice amphibious assault on a beach facing the Spratly Islands. A reporter for the Associated Press caught up with a U.S. Marine lieutenant (I don’t know whether he is a PAO) who had an interesting comment about the exercise:
U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Nick Eisenbeiser said the Oct. 17-28 maneuvers would focus on honing their joint capability to ensure regional security and were not aimed at China or any country as an imaginary target.
"They shouldn't get worried," Eisenbeiser told The Associated Press, when asked if the exercises were aimed at China, whose growing naval power has set off concerns in the region. "We're assisting the Chinese in ensuring that their region is peaceful."
Good messaging, both by conducting the exercise itself, and by 1stLt. Eisenbeiser.
Nicely put, but wonder whether the true intent is to assure or deter.
I've been studying up on the Malacca Straits, Spratly Islands, Philippines, and Okinawa as of late looking for some sort of expanded role for the Army and Marines in the Pacific. Looks like the Marines already identified one key role. It kind of counters AirSea Battle's minimization of any key capability for ground forces. You can picture at least half a dozen ways to get ground troops onto Taiwan prior to any PRC capability to seriously disrupt it given adequate indications and warnings before an amphibious invasion.
To understand how convoluted the Spratley situation is check out Wikipedia under "Spratly Islands dispute." Lots of marginal islands have had extraordinary attempts to demonstrate occupation...buildings on stilts, etc, with the reef submerged at high tide.
But contrast this diplomatic attempt (maybe backhanded) to placate the Chinese, while elsewhere we sail a missile cruiser into the Black Sea for an exercise with Georgia. No diplomatic talk there that I can perceive. Where's Dayuhan when you need him? What's the unclassified skinny on the Philippines? Are they ready to welcome back the U.S.?
I've been working on a white paper that may or may not get published if I can get my act together. It outlines parking the USS George Washington (that the Navy may decommission, why waste it) in the middle of the Spratly's and using it as a FOB for Army ground and aviation troops, Marine MV-22s, JHSV and LCS carrying Army troops...the Spratly's are conveniently centered between the Malacca Straits and Taiwan. Did you know you could easily fly Army helicopters or MV-22 from either Okinawa, the Spratly's, or the Philippines to Taiwan by island hopping?