Tokyo, Japan. In a move to surely provoke China, two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers flew a 10-hour mission Thursday from Guam through the disputed South China Sea in an operation with a Navy guided-missile destroyer, the U.S. military has said.
The joint training, organized under the U.S. Pacific Command’s “continuous bomber presence” program in Guam, was aimed at bolstering interoperability between the Navy and Air Force “by refining joint tactics, techniques and procedures while simultaneously strengthening their ability to seamlessly integrate their operations.”
Of course nobody thought clearly that while doing the training they were either sending a message of aggression to either North Korea or the Chinese government, and in either case, nothing positive could come from such a provocation.
The Pentagon said this week in its annual report on China’s military that Beijing was constructing 24 fighter-sized hangars, fixed-weapons positions and other military-grade infrastructure on each of the three major features it occupied in the South China Sea as of late last year.
China’s Spratly Islands outpost expansion effort is currently focused on building out the land-based capabilities of its three largest outposts Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs, after completion of its four smaller outposts early in 2016,”
“Once all these facilities are complete, China will have the capacity to house up to three regiments of fighters in the Spratly Islands” in the strategic waterway.
It is unclear why America feels the need to micro-manage this area. It is nowhere near any US state or territory. The United States is the only country on earth with a “global command” and forces currently deployed to 160 nations worldwide.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in annual trade passes. Last month, Washington twice complained of “unsafe” encounters between U.S. reconnaissance planes and Chinese fighter jets in the skies above the waters.