SOVEREIGNTY PATROLS: POLITICIANS DECIDE HOW FORCEFUL THEY WILL BE
The U.S. Navy Pacific Commander Adm. Scott Swift claims his ships and crews are up for soverignity patrols that include passing within 12 miles of newly established Chinese manned light houses and other manned installations within disputed parts of the South China Sea. Adm. Swift spoke to the Military Times October 23, 2015 and asserted his fleet's readiness to carry out challenging soverignity patrols but stated that it was up to America's political authorities to determine if his fleet would carry out this element of their soverignity patrols. Adm. Swift speaking to Associated Press reporters stated that his sailors have the capacity and capability to sail anywhere international law allows but emphasized that patrols were intended to reinforce international law and are not directed at any specific nation.
Since 2013, China has been stepping up its construction of new islands atop reefs and atolls in the South China Sea. Recently the Dragon began adding buildings and airstrips in apparent attempts to boost its sovereignty claims to the territory claimed by its neighbors. Last week Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a news conference in Boston that the U.S. will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits, including in the South China Sea. According to testimony by Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, the United States last patrolled within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands in 2012,
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