Monday, July 20, 2015

• US ready to take military action in West Philippine Sea – Pacific fleet

Amid ongoing tensions over Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, Admiral Scott Swift, the new head of the U.S. fleet has reassured allies that Washington is prepared to respond militarily.  

We are ready and prepared to respond to any contingency that the president may suggest would be necessary,Swift told journalists in Manila on Friday, according to the Associated Press. 

Asked how many resources the U.S. military is ready to devote to the West Philippine Sea, Swift avoided to give an exact number.

“If we had the entire Unites States Navy here in the region, I think people would still be asking, ‘Can you bring more?” explained Swift.

Swift stressed that any number of the upcoming 52 high-tech combat ships could be deployed to the West Philippine Sea, suggesting that the Pentagon views  
China as a greater threat than the Islamic State.

US Pacific Fleet Commander joins patrol mission to West Philippine Sea

The Commander of United States Navy Pacific Fleet Admiral Scott Swift joined the Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 in a patrol mission to West Philippine Sea July 18. The said mission was also done for the Pacific Fleet Commander to see personally the full-range capabilities of US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Admiral Swift is in the country for a four-day visit that started July 16.

The US Navy said Admiral Swift observed operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon aircraft during a flight hosted by the Pelicans of Patrol Squadron (VP) 45.

“Swift took part in a seven-hour maritime surveillance mission to witness firsthand the full range of the Poseidon’s capabilities,” US Navy added.

During his visit, Swift reassured allies that US is prepared to act against Chinese threat. “We are ready and prepared to respond to any contingency that the President may suggest would be necessary,” he said.

The Philippine Defense department welcomed the Admiral’s statement. “It’s always welcome to hear words of commitment from US officials particular in light of as we faced together an oppressive neighbor,” Defense spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez told state media Philippine New Agency.

“His strong statement as Commander Pacific Fleet indicates the US commitment to maintain stability in the region,” Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan said.

AS part of his four-day visit in Manila, the new commander of the US Pacific Fleet participated in a surveillance mission on Saturday over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) amid escalating tensions between the Philippines and China over competing maritime claims.

Admiral Scott Swift, in pictures released by the US Pacific Fleet, was seen aboard a P-8A Poseidon spy plane.

“As part of his visit to the Philippines this week, Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, took part in a seven-hour maritime surveillance mission over the South China Sea on Saturday to witness firsthand the full range of the P-8A Poseidon’s capabilities,” the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

The P-8A was described as “the most advanced long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface aircraft in the world.”

Last May, the United States deployed a P-8A spy plane in the West Philippine Sea to monitor the rebuilding activities of China in the disputed islands.

The spy plane was then challenged by the Chinese Navy to go away as it was approaching a “Chinese military zone.”

The plane flew 15,000 feet at its lowest level.
Swift was in the country from July 16 to 19. 

Photo from : US Pacific Fleet facebook account

Pacific Fleet commander assures Asian allies U.S. prepared in South China Sea
By Jim Gomez
Associated Press
POSTED: 4:30 a.m. HST, Jul 17, 2015
LAST UPDATED: 4:30 a.m. HST, Jul 17, 2015

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift looks up during an interview with journalists Friday in Manila, Philippines.

MANILA >> 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 coastal 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 is 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 Unites States Navy here in the region, I think people would still be asking, 'Can you bring more?'"

Territorial disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have flared on and off for years, creating fears that the South China Sea could spark Asia's next major armed conflict. Tensions flared again last year when China began massive island-building on at least seven reefs it controls in an offshore region called the Spratlys.

Addressing those concerns, Swift said he was "very satisfied with the resources that I have available to me as the Pacific Fleet commander," adding, "we are ready and prepared to respond to any contingency that the president may suggest would be necessary."

The U.S., Swift stressed, doesn't take sides but would press ahead with operations to ensure freedom of navigation in disputed waters and elsewhere. "The United States has been very clear that it does not support the use of coercion and force," he said.

Swift cited the U.S. military's massive response to help the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 as a demonstration of America's commitment to help a troubled ally.

The U.S. military has stationed in Singapore the USS Fort Worth, one of four high-tech combat ships American officials have pledged to deploy to keep watch on the South China Sea and other areas.

Swift said more could be deployed in the region in the future because the Navy plans to acquire 52 more such vessels for use worldwide.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is headquartered in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, is regarded as the world's largest, with about 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,100 aircraft and more than 140,000 sailors and civilians. But it also operates in a vast area that encompasses nearly half of the Earth's surface and is home to more than half of the world's population.

"I can't be everywhere at once," Swift said.

He praised Philippine efforts to hold exercises for military readiness with U.S. allies like Japan, which held search and rescue drills for the first time with the Philippine navy on board a Japanese Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion surveillance plane in the South China Sea last month. "Multilateralism has always increased stability," he said.

China condemned those military drills, although Japanese military officials said they were not held in areas of the South China Sea disputed by Beijing and other governments.

It remains unclear what China intends to do with the artificial islands but Swift said those areas remain disputed and added they would not hinder U.S. military operations in the disputed region.

"I don't feel any change from a military perspective about impacting any operations that the Pacific Fleet engages in," he said.