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China Has a New Air Defense Zone and Washington Couldn't Care Less

The United States challenged China's recently announced Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Monday night, flying two unarmed B-52 bombers on a scheduled training sortie into airspace which China on Saturday declared subject to new defensive measures. Despite Beijing's blustery announcementthat any aircraft flying over a large swatch of the East China Sea would have to identify themselves and coordinate their flights with Chinese air traffic controllers, Chinese naval and air forces in the area did nothing to intercept the flight.

Washington said the flights had been scheduled weeks ago and that the timing was coincidental.  Of course, scheduled flights can always be delayed, and it's striking that  wasn't done here. 

To eliminate any confusion, this is what's known in technical terms as Washington deciding to flip the bird at Beijing.

The entire episode -- both Beijing's decision to erect the ADIZ and Washington's decision to immediately flout it -- raises an important question: Just what exactly is an ADIZ?

The policy, as it was laid out by the Chinese Ministry of Defense, is simple:

  • All aircraft entering the ADIZ must report their flight plans to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Civil Aviation Administration.
  • All aircraft in the ADIZ must maintain radio contact with Chinese authorities.
  • All aircraft in the ADIZ must comply with instructions from Chinese authorities.

"China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions," the Defense Ministry warned. But the ADIZ is not a ban on flying through certain airspace -- in other words, it's definitely not a no-fly zone. Rather, it's a check-in-and-let-us-know-you're-coming zone.

China's new ADIZ isn't unique, either. The United States also has an ADIZ that extends 20 to 30 miles into the sea along its borders. Japan stoked its territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea earlier this year when in June it adjusted its own ADIZ around Yonaguni Island, pushing it into airspace that Taiwan claims as its own. In October, Japan floated new procedures to shoot down Chinese drones operating in what Tokyo claims is Japanese airspace.

The real controversy is the extent of China's ADIZ, not that it has one in the first place. The map China released on Nov. 23 asserts control over almost all of the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and sweeping northeast toward the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island and the Korean peninsula. That's prompted concerns that China is using its ADIZ to try to edge out its rivals in the East China Sea -- closing the area to certain Japanese, Korean, and U.S. flights.

But to do that, China would have to enforce its approximately California-sized claim to airspace in the East China Sea -- which it declined to do when two American B-52s flew through yesterday.

Tech Sgt. Dennis Henry/DVIDS Map: Chinese Ministry of Defence via Xinhua

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'The Rock' Reps U.S. Army-Licensed Clothing Line

Military chic is so hot right now. It was only a matter of time before the actual military caught on.

Last week, Elle informed its readers that military inspired style was making a comeback -- in the words of the magazine, "North Korea chic." Thanks to the good people at the Authentic Apparel Group, average Joes can now stay on trend with a new U.S. Army-licensed clothing line available exclusively on Zappos.com. It's the first time the U.S. Army has extended its brand to an original line of consumer clothing and, surprisingly, it doesn't disappoint. Neither does its spokespersonmodel: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who has signed on as the public face of the clothing line.

For now, the 42-item collection is limited to menswear, and includes pants, shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets and coats. According to Authentic Apparel, each garment was individually approved by the U.S. Army, ensuring that the clothing line meets the rigorous standards of the largest and oldest branch of the U.S. military. In other words, these clothes are rugged enough  to withstand even The Rock's rough-and-tumble lifestyle (he does most of his own stunts, you know). 

Most of the items in the line -- bomber jackets, khakis, henleys, etc. -- originated as military uniform, but are now common to civilian wardrobes. In an ironic effort to render them more "authentic," the company added field and dress details like kevlar threading and epaulets. The occasion underscores both the public's boundless appetite for military-inspired garb, and the surprising extent to which military accoutrement has already been absorbed into popular culture.

Wristwatches, for example, were a military tool during World War I, when the U.S. Army used them to synchronize precision attacks (they were easier to consult than the more ubiquitous pocket watches). Similarly, RayBan aviators were designed for U.S. Air Force pilots in the 1930s, as a way to prevent headaches and altitude sickness caused by sun glare. They became a household a name two decades later, when Hollywood's leading men adopted them as an accessory. Trench coats were developed for the British Army in the 19th century, and took their name from the grimy trenches in which soldiers fought and died during World War I. Even the iconic Burberry trench has military roots: In 1901, Thomas Burberry submitted to the British War Office an officer's raincoat design made with his own proprietary water-resistant fabric.

And khakis, now a staple of casual menswear, were a product of colonial India. In 1846, a British district officer in charge of a troop in Peshawar realized that the soldiers' white cotton uniforms proved easy targets for snipers. So, his troops began dying their uniform with tea (or mud, depending on whom you ask), to better blend in with their surroundings. Ten years later, the Magistrate of Meerut, a city in Utter Pradesh, adapted this discovery and formed the Khaki Risala, or ''Dusty Squadron.'' Since then, khaki has trickled down to every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The U.S. Army has licensed all kinds of products, including electronics, toys, and camping gear, but this is its first notable foray in fashion (hopefully not the last). While some soldiers might turn up their noses at the notion, there is an upside for them: By federal law, licensing fees from all branded products must benefit the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Program, which provides social and educational services to soldiers, retirees, and their families. For some, that may be a pleasing alternative to lining the pockets of high fashion designers, whose military-inspired peacoats and trousers aren't even sewn with kevlar thread.

PRNewsFoto/Authentic Apparel Group