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South China Sea: War fears skyrocket as US military seeks missile defence against Beijing

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The assessment, submitted earlier this week, urgently calls for “the fielding of an Integrated Joint Force with precision-strike networks” along the strategic First-Island Chain. In addition the document also called for “integrated air missile defence in the Second Island Chain, and a distributed force posture that provides the ability to preserve stability.”

Tensions have been high in the region, with both US and Chinese forces carrying out military exercises throughout the South China Sea.

The document also mentioned dispensing and sustaining combat operations for extended periods “if needed”.

To accomplish this, the US Indo-Pacific Command is seeking $4.68 billion (£3.38 billion) in the upcoming fiscal year.

In a conference speech on March 1, Admiral Philip Davidson, leader of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said: “The greatest danger we face in the Indo-Pacific region is the erosion of conventional deterrence vis-à-vis China.

“Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China will be emboldened to take action to supplant the established rules-based international order.”

Admiral Davidson added: “Our Joint Forces in the Indo-Pacific must be postured to provide combat credible deterrence to protect free and open access to trade routes through the air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace.”

The First-Island Chain mentioned in the document is a term referring to a chain of major archipelagos reaching from Japan to Indonesia and surrounds the eastern edge of the South China Sea.

The Second Island Chain refers to a group of islands further east, running from Japan to Guam.

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Precision-strike and missile defence systems placed on the island chains will be able to support the US air and maritime endeavours from “distances greater than 500km,” according to the summary.

In addition to the $4.68 billion next year, the Indo-Pacific Command is also seeking $22.89 billion (£16.54 billion) from 2023 to 2027 to “meet its objectives”.

Admiral Davidson said: “To effectively deter, we need to arm the Joint Force with the proper capabilities, capacities, authorities, and indeed the doctrine to support rapid force employment, accurate offensive power, and effective defences.

“And we have to demonstrate – and communicate – our will – and our commitment to the political object at hand”

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Discussions about the possibility of a large-scale conflict have taken place as a result of unprecedented tensions in the region.

Robert Blackwill, a CFR senior fellow for US foreign policy, and history professor, Philip Zelikow said that Taiwan “is becoming the most dangerous flashpoint in the world for a possible war that involves the United States, China, and probably other major powers”.



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