Image: The Seventh Fleet's area of responsibility, 2009. Public domain: USN Fleets (2009).png @HooverInst
Christopher Sharman, Captain, USN, Seventh Fleet, and Naval Intelligence; & Hoover National Security Affairs Fellow, starts with military intell work in Asia: the Japan-US alliance is as strong as ever; we coordinate in myriad ways, especially maritime. South China Sea and East China Sea. We have some challenges in Okinawa but, overall, Japanese people are amazingly welcoming to us.
Five Eyes partners: Australia has helped us significantly in South China Sea – have sent their ships, is one of the countries that have pushed back against some of the things China has done. Operating methods are transparent: Americans can speak to an Australian ship same as to a US ship.
Indians have traditionally relied on Russian equipment; we’d like to see them move away from that, but they work with many different neighbors so they’ll probably never be an ally but we work well together.
South Korean navy has been at risk from provocations. We do have an alliance with them; they participate in our largest exercises, and we send ships to theirs. We break down cultural issues and each learns how the other operates.
Vietnam: Vietnamese and US navies; Vietnamese view everything through the prism of “what will China’s reaction be?” After a thousand years of Chinese occupation, it’s a delicate balance.
Taiwan: US does not make port calls there, but we have relations, and collaborate with their military. We’re not nearly as present there as elsewhere. Under an attack, will we respond? We certainly are preparing.
Scarborough Shoal: USN has great relations with the Philippines. The 2012 Scarborough incident is fascinating: China entered, convinced the Philippines to back out. Philippines then raised a case in the UN anent the Law of the Sea, and won the case under arbitration; since then, have been careful not to push too hard.