MANILA, Philippines — The new U.S. commander of the Pacific Fleet assured allies Friday that American forces are well-equipped and ready to respond to any contingency in the South China Sea, where long-seething territorial disputes have set off widespread uncertainties.
Adm. Scott Swift, who assumed command of the Pacific Fleet in May, said the Navy may deploy more than the four littoral combat ships it has committed to the region. Swift also disclosed that he was “very interested” in expanding annual combat exercises the U.S. Navy holds with each of several allies into a multi-nation drill, possibly including Japan.
Asked how many resources the U.S. military was ready to devote to the South China Sea, Swift told a small group of journalists in Manila that he understood the concerns of America’s allies.
“The reason that people continue to ask about the long-term commitment and intentions of the Pacific Fleet is reflective really of all the uncertainty that has generated in the theatre now,” Swift said. “If we had the entire United States Navy here in the region, I think people would still be asking, ‘Can you bring more?'”