The Spratly Islands are the most contested part of the South China Sea. Of the vessels operating there are Chinese maritime militia which, according to Poling, is deployed to exert pressure on competing South China Sea claimants. They are purported to both ensure their actions remain below the threshold for a military response and maintain plausible deniability vis a vis the non-military sailors employed on the ships. Are the maritime militia a threat to ADF operations? How do we treat foreign, non-military vessels at sea posing a legitimate threat?