Cue the banjo music, and strike up the guitar. Today, we’re going to talk about the Dueling ADIZ game that is being played over the South China Sea. First of all, what is an ADIZ? Well, it technically is a definition regarding the use and control of airspace. The Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, is a chunk of airspace. You can’t see it, unless it is marked on a map, but you will enter an ADIZ only with permission of the nation that has so designated that area. Here in the United States, we have an ADIZ that extends out over our oceans, and any air traffic inside that area has to be identified. This was a large component of our air defense during the Cold War, since an unidentified aircraft wandering into the ADIZ was considered a threat. Against that background, we have the current “Dueling” ADIZ declarations by several countries with claims in the South China Sea. The Chinese started this latest bout, and now the South Koreans, and Japan appear to be jumping onto the band wagon. Why does this matter? These particular ADIZ declarations all extend over the same portion of the South China Sea, around the Spratly and other small Islands, that control fishing grounds and possible mineral deposits. In other words, economics are driving this train. Minds far greater than mine have provided tons of analysis on all this, but it is interesting to observe how the old “Cold War” tactics are rearing their heads again in this part of the world. While various nations, to include us, have flown through the new Chinese ADIZ since it was declared, the potential for danger is high right now. If continued, it is possible that three or even up to five nations, will declare this same airspace as part of their own ADIZ. Now imagine the commercial airliner that wanders through this airspace. Will someone shoot it down, or will the airline have to get permission from up to five different nations to transit? This is an interesting thing to observe, but the danger is quite real if allowed to get out of hand. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.