The exercise will see a division-sized force move the South China Sea in 2020. They are likely to partner with the Philippines and Thailand, The Diplomat reported. The Commander of US Army forces in the Pacific, General Robert Brown, told Defense News: “They will get the challenge of coming to the Pacific with the Pacific-assigned forces already there.
“We won’t go to Korea, we will actually go to a South China Sea scenario where we will be around the South China Sea; and another scenario we can do that is the East China Sea.”
The US Army currently has 85,000 troops permanently stationed in the Indo-Pacific region.
They are currently conducting exercised such as Pacific Pathways with allies and partners in order to practice rapid deployment from the US to the Pacific.
The exercise is reportedly sparked by China’s rising defence as the US sees them as a “long-term, strategic competitor of the US”.
Tensions in the South China Sea have risen in the past year as the US tries to push back China’s hold on the region.
The waters are the world’s busiest trade route is also claimed by the likes of Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei.
So far, the US has conducted 15 freedom of navigation operations in the area since 2015.
The US also want allies to consider similar manoeuvres.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, told an audience at the National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit that “there is an important relationship between the US and China”.
But he added: “Their moving into the South China Sea is not because they want freedom of navigation.
“Their efforts to build ports around the world aren’t because they want to be good shipbuilders and stewards of waterways.
“But rather they have a state national security element to each and every one of them.”
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