Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
'Freedom Of Navigation': VP Pence Flies Over Disputed South China Sea In Message To Beijing
Vice President Mike Pence has undertaken a kind of “freedom of navigation” operation of his own over the disputed South China Sea, an interview published Tuesday revealed ahead of Pence’s visit to Singapore for a series of meetings in the region.
In an interview with Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin in which Pence focused on the White House’s Indo-Pacific policy, the vice president said his trip to the region “is meant to show the United States has no intention of ceding influence or control” to Beijing.
As part of this push, Pence had met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday in Tokyo, where the two discussed, among other things, China’s increasingly assertive posture in both the South China Sea and broader region.
On the way from Tokyo to Singapore, where Pence was due to attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the vice president’s plane passed over the South China Sea — flying some 30 km (50 miles) — from the contested Spratly Island chain, where China has constructed military facilities on artificial islands.
Rogin quoted the vice president as telling him that “the flight was something of a freedom of navigation mission in and of itself.”
“We will not be intimidated,” Pence told him. “We will not stand down. We will continue to exercise freedom of navigation.”
The U.S. does not have a claim in the South China Sea, but the navy has conducted what it calls freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPs, in the waterway. Those missions, Washington says, are meant to enforce the right of free passage in international waters under international law.
Beijing has lambasted the operations, claiming that it respects freedom of navigation, and that the FONOPs are merely a pretext for containing China.
China has repeatedly said that it has “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and its adjacent waters,” but Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims in the waterway, which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year and where the U.S., Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies also routinely operate.
Asked what would happen if Beijing fails to agree to act in Asia in a way that can avoid “a new Cold War” with the United States, Pence appeared to accept that such a reality could be inevitable.
“Then so be it,” he said. “We are here to stay.”
©2018 the Japan Times (Tokyo). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.