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Deterring the People's Republic of China's Continued Aggression by Reducing U.S. Navy Deployments to the South China Sea


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The South China Sea (SCS) is a strategically important region because of its natural resources, including fisheries and rich hydrocarbon seabeds, and its significant role in maritime shipping. Tensions in this region consisting of excessive maritime claims and harassment instigated by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) caused the United States (U.S.) to maintain a constant presence to ensure a free and open Pacific. This presence has taxed the U.S. and its resources with little to no change in PRC activity. To alter the status quo and enable international law enforcement to be the new norm, a change must occur. By reducing deployed naval forces in the SCS, the U.S. can maintain an advantage in deterring PRC aggression and overreaching claims in the SCS. First, the U.S must vary its time and duration of deployments to the SCS. Uncertainty regarding deployments and operations within the SCS enables the U.S. to dictate the pace of operations and forces the PRC to be reactive. Second, the U.S. must continue to build and forge both bi-lateral and multi-lateral events facilitating interoperability while reinforcing the support of partners and allies. The change in SCS deployment time will likewise enable the expansion of cooperative deployments, strengthening the abilities of allies and partners, all while providing variability in operations with and without U.S. assets. Finally, the reduced number of deployments will aid the U.S. Navy's (USN) ability to recapitalize its force and reinvest the savings into maintenance and expanded capabilities to achieve the strategic goals within the region. With a change in budget priorities, the fleet can acquire new and emerging technologies to hold the PRC at risk while operating outside the first island chain (FIC) with fully mission-capable assets.



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