US Urges Preparedness Against Chinese Gray-Zone Operations

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Pearl Harbor, Hawaii: New United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Chief Admiral Samuel Paparo’s Warning on China’s “Gray Zone Activities”

In a recent change of command ceremony at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, Admiral Samuel Paparo took over as the new USINDOPACOM commander, succeeding Admiral John Aquilino. During the ceremony, Admiral Paparo highlighted the importance of being prepared to respond to China’s “gray zone activities” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Admiral Paparo emphasized the need to address China’s increasingly intrusive and expansionist claims in the region. He referred to these actions as the “gray zone,” a term that may sound benign and dull, but in reality, encompasses activities that are illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive. Admiral Paparo drew inspiration from General Romeo Brawner of the Republic of the Philippines, who coined the term “ICAD” to describe these activities.

Gray zone operations are tactics or activities employed by a country that fall below the threshold of aggression, making it challenging for the targeted nation to invoke self-defense measures. In the West Philippine Sea, for example, Beijing’s use of coast guards, maritime militia vessels, and water cannons against Filipino civilian vessels serves as a prime example of these gray zone tactics.

USINDOPACOM’s Focus on Peace, Security, and Sovereign Rights

Under Admiral Paparo’s leadership, USINDOPACOM will prioritize maintaining peace and security in the region while safeguarding the sovereign rights of its partners. The command aims to uphold an international order characterized by transparency, cooperation, fair competition, and the rule of law.

Admiral Paparo emphasized the importance of partnerships in achieving these goals. USINDOPACOM will work closely with allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific. While striving for peaceful resolutions to conflicts, the command remains prepared to confront any adversary that poses a threat to the nation’s well-being, as well as that of its allies and partners.

Admiral Paparo assured foreign military leaders, including Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Romeo Brawner Jr., that USINDOPACOM is committed to shaping the strategic environment in favor of the United States and its allies and partners. The command is ready to leverage its integrated capabilities to ensure peace, security, stability, and the well-being of all nations in the Indo-Pacific.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Concerns about China’s Coercive Behavior

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed Admiral Paparo’s concerns about China’s actions in his speech during the change of command ceremony. He highlighted China’s increasingly coercive behavior in the East and South China Seas, along the Line of Actual Control with India, and in the Taiwan Strait.

Secretary Austin emphasized that China is the only country with the will and capacity to dominate the Indo-Pacific and reshape the global order to fit its autocratic vision. He identified China as the Department of Defense’s “pacing challenge,” underscoring the significance of addressing China’s actions in the region.

The Importance of USINDOPACOM in the Indo-Pacific

USINDOPACOM holds a crucial role as America’s oldest and largest combatant command. It is responsible for overseeing operations in the Indo-Pacific region, which Secretary Austin described as a “priority theater of operations” for the United States.

The command comprises a diverse force of over 380,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians, coast guardsmen, and Department of Defense civilians. This highly capable and dedicated team stands ready to protect and advance the interests of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific.

As the Indo-Pacific region continues to experience geopolitical tensions, the leadership of Admiral Samuel Paparo and the efforts of USINDOPACOM are essential in ensuring peace, security, and the preservation of sovereign rights for all nations involved.

Source: The Manila Times

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