War games near California: Are the US and Japan sending a message to China?

A series of unprecedented joint drills, code-named Dawn Blitz, began earlier this month between the United States and Japan off the coast of California with a specific aim: a joint amphibious assault on the island after it has been seized by a small, but heavily armed, invading force.

San Clemente Island, located about 75 miles northwest of San Diego, is acting as a surrogate for the disputed island chain known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Japanese officials insist publicly that the drills are not targeting a third country, adding that the island’s identity is purely hypothetical.

The drills, which end later this week, began with an initial assault led by about 80 US Marines and three MV-22 Osprey aircraft, followed by a Japanese amphibious force. In all, Japan has committed about 1,000 troops to the Dawn Blitz operation, along with two warships. Troops from New Zealand and Canada are also taking part.

“I will tell you that I was very impressed with not just the cooperation, but really the operational capabilities that [Japan’s self-defense forces or SDF] are starting to bring together,” says Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow, commanding general of the US Marine Corps 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

China had reportedly called on the US and Japan to cancel the operation, which began just two days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Obama held a summit in California. Tokyo and Washington ignored the request.

An official source familiar with Dawn Blitz conceded that the drills were designed to demonstrate to Beijing that Japan is bolstering its deterrence capability with the help of its US ally.

“We’re aware of China’s objections, but from a Japanese and US perspective, the object of the exercise is to build a powerful deterrent and demonstrate that the two forces are seamlessly connected – to show the Chinese that they are battle-ready,” the source told the Monitor on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media. “There is nothing unusual in that.”

Full article: War games near California: Are the US and Japan sending a message to China? (Christian Science Monitor)

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