As regular readers will know, I have written often about the activities and putative intentions of China with respect to the South China Sea. One of those posts from last February, HERE, was about the assessments of a U.S. Navy Senior Intelligence Officer, Captain James Fanell, in regard to the specific objectives behind China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise, which took place in November, 2013.
Captain Fanell’s official title is (or was) Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence & Information Operations (PACFLEET), and his assessment was formally presented to an annual conference in San Diego of the senior members of the American military naval forces as well as naval contractors. The theme for the 2014 conference, known as the 2014 Western Conference & Exposition (WEST-2014), was “Shaping the Maritime Strategy: How Do We Make It Work?”. Also on the conference panel alongside Captain Fanell was Rear Admiral James Foggo, the Navy’s Chief of Operations, Plans, & Strategy.
Now comes word, via the Navy Times, that Captain Fanell has been relieved of his post by Admiral Harry Harris, apparently over the candor he displayed in his remarks at the West-2014 conference. It seems that the Pentagon brass, and presumably the U.S. State Department, feel that his assessment of China’s intentions threaten the relationship between the U.S. and China at a time when the Obama administration is trying to engage China.
The Navy Times article is HERE, and for good measure, the WikiPedia page for the “Senkaku Islands dispute” is HERE. And, in case any reader wonders why I attach such importance to developments in the South China Sea, it is because the Senkaku Islands, as well as many other disputed islands in the region, are currently regarded as Japanese territory and are thus included in the United States’ mutual defense treaty with Japan. In other words, if China tries to take any of these islands by force, the U.S. is obligated to provide military assistance to Japan.
Previous posts on the situation in the South China Sea and on other matters related to U.S. military interests may be assessed by clicking on the “Military Affairs” sub-category (under the “Issues” category) from the sidebar to the right (only on the website’s Home page).