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The current rebalancing of U.S. forces to the Pacific requires an understanding of a number of factors. Among the factors are a greater understanding of emerging trends in the Chinese military and a clear assessment of the Chinese regional strategic plan. Additionally, an examination of the political and geographical features of the South China Sea region and how those considerations support and limit the U.S. response is required. When the current situation in the South China Sea is balanced against the historical model of Anglo-American engagement in the Persian Gulf region, a model emerges for future U.S. engagement. The Anglo-American model used a combination of personnel, positioning, and procurement to create regional security in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. can apply appropriate elements of this model to achieve a regional balance of power in the South China Sea.