US seeks to de­ploy mo­bile ar­tillery near South China Sea

Business Mirror - - BM REPORTS -

WITH ten­sions es­ca­lat­ing in the South China Sea (SCS), the US Army is dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of send­ing mo­bile ar­tillery units to the re­gion.

Over the week­end, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama stated that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would con­tinue to chal­lenge Bei­jing’s ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea.

“We think China is re­sort­ing to the old style of might makes right, as op­posed to work­ing through in­ter­na­tional law and in­ter­na­tional norms to es­tab­lish claims and to re­solve dis­putes,” Obama said in an in­ter­view with Chan­nel News Asia.

The US and its Pa­cific al­lies have ac­cused China of build­ing ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands on top of sen­si­tive marine habi­tats to es­tab­lish an air- de­fense zone in the highly con­tested wa­ter­way. China main­tains it has ev­ery right to build within what it con­sid­ers to be its own ter­ri­tory, and has stated that the is­lands will be used pri­mar­ily for hu­man­i­tar­ian pur­poses.

Bei­jing has ac­cused Wash­ing­ton of stir­ring un­rest in the re­gion, and new pieces of in­for­ma­tion of ad­di­tional be­hind-the-scenes machi­na­tions have come to light.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior US Army

We think China is re­sort­ing to the old style of might makes right.”

—Obama

of­fi­cial, speak­ing to Scout War­rior on con­di­tion of anonymity, the US may soon de­ploy mo­bile ar­tillery, the kind tra­di­tion­ally used in land-based of­fen­sives, to the SCS as de­fen­sive units.

“We could use ex­ist­ing how­itzers and that type of mu­ni­tion to knock out in­com­ing threats when peo­ple try to hit us from the air at long ranges us­ing rock­ets and cruise mis­siles,” the of­fi­cial said.

Such a plan would re­quire the co­op­er­a­tion of re­gional al­lies, who would have to ap­prove the place­ment of the guns.

“A how­itzer can go where it has to go. It is a way of chang­ing an of­fen­sive weapon and us­ing it in dual ca­pac­ity,” the anony­mous mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said. “This opens the door to op­por­tu­ni­ties and op­tions we have not had be­fore with mo­bile- de­fen­sive plat­forms and of­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

If ap­proved, Wash­ing­ton’s weapon de­ploy­ment would con­tinue a pat­tern of US ag­gres­sion in the SCS. Wash­ing­ton has con­ducted a num­ber of joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with re­gional al­lies as a show of force against China. Over the past few months, the Pen­tagon has also be­gun con­duct­ing “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion” ex­er­cises near Bei­jing’s ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands.

But if mo­bile- of­fen­sive units are seen as an ef­fec­tive, cheaper al­ter­na­tive to shoot­ing down mis­siles or air­craft, they could also be used be­yond the Pa­cific. Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials sug­gest that M777 How­itzers and M109 Pal­adins could also be used in East­ern Europe, to counter Rus­sian “ag­gres­sion.”

Mean­while, China has de­ployed fighter jets to a con­tested is­land in the SCS amid ter­ri­to­rial ten­sions in the re­gion, the me­dia re­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fox news tele­vi­sion chan­nel’s Tues­day re­port, US in­tel­li­gence spot­ted China’s Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7s air­craft ( North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion re­port­ing names Flanker B+ and Floun­der, re­spec­tively) on Woody Is­land in the past few days.

Bei­jing had pre­vi­ously de­ployed two bat­ter­ies of HQ-9 sur­face-toair mis­siles on the same is­land, the me­dia out­let said.

In re­cent weeks, the US and Tai­wan have warned that China has de­ployed sur­face-to-air mis­siles on Woody Is­land in the Par­cel chain in the SCS. The de­ploy­ment marked the lat­est step in China’s mil­i­tary buildup in the Par­cel and Spratly ar­chi­pel­a­gos, where at least six na­tions have over­lap­ping ter­ri­to­rial claims.

China, how­ever, ar­gues that both ar­chi­pel­a­gos are its sov­er­eign ter­ri­tory, a claim that Wash­ing­ton has ag­gres­sively chal­lenged by con­duct­ing so-called free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion ex­er­cises in which US war­ships de­lib­er­ately pass within 12 miles of Chi­nese held is­lands.

AP

PRO­TEST­ERS dis­play plac­ards dur­ing a rally near the Chi­nese Con­sulate in the fi­nan­cial district of Makati City to de­nounce the al­leged de­ploy­ment of sur­face-to-air mis­siles by China on the dis­puted is­lands off South China Sea on Fri­day. The pro­test­ers are call­ing on China to halt its is­land-build­ing on some of the dis­puted is­lands and its al­leged in­creas­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion.

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