Tensions in the South China Sea got red hot a few years ago as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) pressed maritime claims involving a host of nations in the region – most notably The Philippines.
Now that a trade war with the United States is in full swing, things are heating up once again …
A hub of global commerce, the South China Sea sees an estimated $5 trillion worth of goods pass through its waters each year. And in addition to disputes over shipping lanes there are conflicting claims related to oil and gas reserves – as well as arguments over territorial fishing rights.
It is a cauldron of competing interests, in other words.
In an effort to send a message to China regarding America’s commitment to securing its interests in the region, the U.S. Marine Corps conducted a major training operation earlier this week. The exercise seized control of Ie Shima – a small Japanese Island – mounting a reconnaissance and surveillance operation followed by a “600-mile long-range raid.”
Troops from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in this massive exercise, with supporting assets from the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, the U.S. Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Group and the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group.
After seizing control of the island’s airfield, troops established a forward arming and refueling outpost – supported by F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters and C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.