Pentagon Mulls Sending Planes, Ships Near Disputed South China Sea Islands

A U.S. official said on Tuesday that the Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around rapidly growing Chinese-made artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
The official said U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options that include sending U.S. military ships and aircraft within 12 nautical miles of reefs that China has been building up in the disputed Spratly Islands.
Such a move would directly challenge Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the disputed region by literally adding territory through a massive island-building exercise.
The U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, "We are considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade." The official added that any options would need to be approved by the White House.
Carter's request for the development of options including using the U.S. ships and aircraft was first reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.