Last week I shared with you the audio exchanges between a US Navy P8-A Poseidon aircraft and the Chinese Navy in regards to the littoral waters exercises between both in the South China Sea. In my blog post, I commented about how the Navy’s decision to release the audio of the exchanges gives us an unprecedented look into the aerial and naval exercises that countries routinely engage in order to mark territories. I opined that I was hoping that the release signaled a new openness from the US Navy. I also opined that we were being allowed a look into previously guarded military activities.
Very few individuals outside of the military or air traffic control centers across the world get to listen to or view these military challenges as they happen. By the time, most realize that these exercises are happening either war has broken out, or an aircraft or ship has been seized or destroyed. On my post on May 29, 2015, I wrote that I had hoped that this new engagement, from the US Navy, was something we would get to see more in the future.
This morning, the US Navy obliged us with another naval sovereignty exercise.
This one was an overflight of a Russian SU-24 aircraft of the USS Ross (DDG 71) in the Black Sea. According to the US Navy, the Russian overflight, which happened on May 30, 2015, was “professional” and the aircraft carried no weapons.
Those outside of the Navy do not realize that navies routinely impose security zones around their warships in international waters. Aircraft or watercraft approaching naval ships are challenged, sometimes forcefully intercepted or even, on occasion destroyed as a threat to the naval ship.
Other countries test these security zones via their own navies or air forces.
These exercises are part of the sovereignty challenges some countries engage in.
By all accounts, the May 30, 2015 Russian overflight of USS Ross was not threatening nor was it challenged as unfriendly or illegal under international agreements.
What is interesting about this latest video is two-fold.
First, it seems to signal that the US Navy is prepared to embrace social media as a tool for managing public perception of naval operations between nations.
I believe that is a good thing, as it gives citizens an opportunity to have a better understanding of how territorial integrity is managed via the military forces of the different nations engaged in these activities.
Second, it seems to show that gamesmanship between nations is going online as part of their overall strategies. It looks like countries may be starting to think in terms of using social media as part of the strategy of managing public perception of ongoing disputes.
It has been suggested, by the news media, that the US Navy released the overflight video as a result of Russian suggestions, via their own social media channels, that the incident demonstrated that the Russians were successful in forcing the US Navy ship to alter course.
I do not have any information of which version is accurate. However, the fact that the “he-said-she said” is going on in social media between the Russians and the US shows that we may be seeing more geo-political public perception manipulation via social media.
I believe that is a good thing because to my knowledge, words have yet to kill anyone.