Monday, August 24, 2015

Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy

The Department of Defense has released its Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy (APMSS) document.  We just recently reviewed the DoD’s National Military Strategy (NMS) document and decided that it was an utter waste of time and effort, contained absolutely nothing of value, totally failed to even meet the definition of a strategy, and was an embarrassment to our so-called professional military leaders.  Now, let’s take a look at this strategy document.

Let me give you the broad view right up front.  This document is a vast improvement over the NMS.  It contains most of the elements of an actual strategy and, largely, refrains from the PR marketing that was the hallmark of the NMS.  It describes the problems in a succinct and yet thorough manner, lays out some fairly clear and definite goals though still a bit generic, and then lists methods for achieving the goals.  The flip side of this is that the goals and methods are still a bit on the generic side, are extremely passive, and some are what I would consider political rather than military.

So, while I disagree with the goals and methods the document does, at least, meet the minimal definition of an actual strategy. 

That said, let’s get into a bit of the details.

First, a strategy should lay out the problem and this is probably the strength of this document.  With a bit of tiptoeing around the China issue, it still does a very nice job of describing the problems and challenges we face in the Asia-Pacific (AP) region.  The document is worth a read for this section if no other.  It clearly and concisely describes the challenges in the region related to the multitude of conflicting territorial claims.  I wish it would have tied the region’s challenges into the US national and strategic interests a bit more.  The US dependence on regional commercial shipping and the related rights of passage are pointed out but not much more.  Why does it matter to the US who claims which islands?  That’s the key question and it went largely unanswered.  I suspect this is part of the tiptoeing around China aspect.

Second, a strategy should lay out the goals and objectives.  The document lists three main objectives:

  • safeguard the freedom of the seas
  • deter conflict and coercion
  • promote adherence to international law and standards.

Those are still a bit generic but do offer at least some degree of usefulness.  Their main failing is that they are supposed to be a means to solving the described problems and they don’t.  At best, they can be said to preserve the peace while doing nothing to actually solve the problems in a manner beneficial to US interests.

Third, a strategy must lay out the methods to accomplish the goals and objectives.  This is the weakest part of the document. 

  • Strengthening our military capacity
  • Working with allied and partner nations to build their maritime capabilities
  • Leveraging military capacity to reduce risk of conflict
  • Working to build regional security organizations

These are fairly generic and the specifics that are described as pertaining to these are non-specific and have little demonstrable connection to, or impact on, the stated method.  Some of these, such as building regional security organizations, are more political methods than military.

Now for my biggest criticism ...  The overall theme of the strategy is one of conflict avoidance at almost all costs.  The strategy notes but does nothing specific and effective to address China’s creeping land (and air/sea) grab efforts which have, thus far, proven highly successful and are inexorably solidifying China’s claims (possession being nine tenths of the law).  This borders on appeasement and that’s an approach that has failed every time throughout history that it’s ever been used.  As I stated in the previous post, a better goal would have been,

“Contain China’s expansionist activities and prevent any Chinese territorial gains in the South and East China Seas using military confrontation to augment diplomatic efforts.”

The very passive nature of this strategy calls into question the degree of need for the military and its many new weapon systems and associated huge expenditures.  We could accomplish all that’s called for in the strategy with nothing more than an ocean-going coast guard.  See?  That’s the problem (and strength) of having a strategy.  The strategy will tell you what military needs you really have and this is saying that we already have far more than enough.  If the DoD really believes this strategy, as written, they should be making major, across the board cuts (some would say they are, I guess).

Also, the very concept of deterrence is indirectly called into question by this strategy.  We’ve been engaged in deterrence for years and if this is the result of our efforts (China slowly annexing the entire South Pacific) then deterrence has failed miserably as a policy and that should be acknowledged and addressed in the strategy with an alternate approach spelled out (see my previous offering of a better objective).  Instead, the strategy essentially calls for more of the same failed deterrence and, thereby, implicitly cedes the entire South and East China Seas to China.

Let me sum up by saying that the document is head and shoulders above the NMS in terms of laying out an actual strategy and is well worth the time to read.  I urge you to do so.  It’s readily available on the Internet.  The goals and methods are suspect and unwise but at least they’re spelled out.

Let me close by offering the absolute standout statement in the document.

“China’s actions are having the effect of increasing uncertainty about its intentions, and this is shrinking space for diplomatic solutions to emerge.” [emphasis added]

Now, if the DoD would read their own statement and take heed …



43 comments:

  1. Where do we have the right under existing maritime and international law to "prevent any Chinese territorial gains in the South and East China Seas"?

    We have the right to exercise freedom of the seas, and to support claims made by allies to disputed islands, but do we really want to risk war with a nuclear power over some hunks of rock in the South China Sea? Is that in our best interest?

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    1. What a great question! There's dozens of different ways to answer this. Here's some (and mind you, they may conflict so consider them on their own). Also, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of them. Also, recognize that law is an amorphous thing that is constantly being "bent" and reinterpreted as the needs of the moment move it.

      -We don't have an explicit right under any international law
      -We have the right to protect the global good under various international piracy and seizure laws
      -We have the right under defense of long recognized international norms regarding territorial limits, EEZs, and whatnot. China is clearly violating all of those.
      -Regardless of international law, we have the right to preserve our national strategic interests (consider historic precedent such as OIF and others)
      -We have a right to respond to acts of war (forcedown and seizure of EP-3 and other acts)
      -We have the right to support allies and their claims
      -We have the right to exercise and defend right of passage which China's seizure of disputed islands would hinder if left unchallenged
      -Might makes right. This is barbaric but, honestly, still forms the basis for most military action.

      I'm sure an international law expert could come up with many more.

      This points out the need to have a solid geopolitical strategy as a precursor to a military strategy.

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    2. "... do we really want to risk war with a nuclear power over some hunks of rock in the South China Sea? Is that in our best interest?"

      Well, that's the real question, isn't it? I believe it is. I also believe there's no risk of nuclear war. China stands to gain nothing from nuclear war any more than we do. I believe that a repressive, expansionist, communist country in control of the entire first island chain and looking to expand further can't be anything but bad for the entire world. With that belief, the sooner we confront and contain them, the better.

      What appeasement supporters fail to recognize is that there is no end to the expansion. China (and now Russia) show no signs of wanting just a few specific pieces of territory and then they'll stop and be good and happy members of the global community. If we were to formally cede the entire first island chain to China, they immediately start planning the gradual takeover of the second island chain (undoubtedly, they already are) and so on.

      Suppose China announces that they want New Jersey. Are we really willing to risk nuclear war over a tiny portion of the country that most of us don't want, anyway?

      Where do you draw the line around an expansionist country that is routinely defying all international laws? I say you draw it as early and tight as you can. Any other approach is head in the sand appeasement.

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    3. The territorial limit and EEZ claims are nebulous and disputed in that region. Numerous countries claim various rights to different hunks or rock within the first island chain. Who is "right"? Just the countries we like?

      The seizure of the EP-3 and harassment of our ships are provocative moves, certainly, but hardly worth going to war over.

      IMHO, we should focus on exercising freedom of the seas, deterring aggression, and backing our allies who feel bullied. But the issue of territorial limits and EEZs in the region should play out through diplomatic and legal means.

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    4. CNO said, "Suppose China announces that they want New Jersey. Are we really willing to risk nuclear war over a tiny portion of the country that most of us don't want, anyway?"

      There's a rather huge difference between China "invading" an uninhabited hunk of rock a few hundred miles from their coast, and China invading the US. :)

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    5. Smitty, my friend, you could not be more wrong (at least not until the next post!).

      "The seizure of the EP-3 and harassment of our ships are provocative moves, certainly, but hardly worth going to war over. "

      OK, with that logic firmly in hand, we should not hesitate to seize a Chinese "coast guard" ship the next time we find one somewhere we don't want it to be even if it's there legally. After all, while provocative, China would not find it worth it to go to war over, right? Or, do you only preach restraint and adherence to international law on our part?

      Let's also be crystal clear on something you seem unclear about. China's seizure of our aircraft was a legal act of war. While we may choose to do nothing about it (exactly what we did), China did commit an act of war against us. Be clear about that.

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    6. "But the issue of territorial limits and EEZs in the region should play out through diplomatic and legal means. "

      You're having a bad day, my friend. Again, you fail to see the main issue. Allowing disputes to play out through diplomatic and legal means is fine as long as both parties to the dispute abide by the law. China is flatly refusing to abide by any international laws relevant to its seizure of the first island chain.

      Possession is still 9/10 of the law. Let's say, years from now, some international court or body decides that China should give back one, some, or all of the islands it seized, do you really see China agreeing to that?

      This means that the dispute IS being resolved as we speak, just not through the courts. It's being resolved via land reclamation, military intimidation, and "blockades" of disputed territories. China is playing the game and winning. We're sitting back and allowing it to happen. Hey, isn't that appeasement?

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    7. "There's a rather huge difference between China "invading" an uninhabited hunk of rock a few hundred miles from their coast, and China invading the US."

      Pay very close attention! I didn't say invade. I said that they announced they wanted it. Suppose they show up off NJ and begin harassing and preventing us from fishing there and begin reclaiming land from the sea around NJ and manufacture some spurious claim that a Chinese explorer went there a thousand years ago. Are you willing to risk nuclear war just for the sake of NJ?

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    8. "Who is "right"? Just the countries we like?"

      Pretty much, yes. I'm unsure who is right but I'm absolutely sure who is wrong and that would be the countries that don't abide by established international law and, instead, make illegal land grabs, construct illegal reclaimed land, and conduct military intimidation.

      So, I'm unsure who's right but I'm sure who's wrong. Do we stand idly by, as we are now, and allow the "wrong" and "illegal" country to make land grabs that threaten our strategic interests in the area. This is the main question. The Asia-Pacific strategy doc that is the subject of this post makes clear that we have national security interests in the region or we wouldn't have an entire strategy (however flawed it might be) for the region. So, do we stand by or do we act before it's too late?

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    9. We have national security interests in the region, yes. That doesn't mean we draw a line in the water (and/or sand) and say, "you can't cross."

      The legal situation of the islands and other features in the SCS is convoluted and disputed. Many parties have more-or-less valid claims. The Philippines beached a rusted hulk of a ship on one and have sailors permanently living on it to solidify their claim. (Note, artificial islands don't grant territorial rights under UNCLOS. )

      The Chinese are certainly behaving aggressively. They have made claims that exceed international norms. These are claims that hurt our allies, but do not directly impact us. We should assist our allies in prosecuting their claims and ensure international norms are upheld.

      If the Chinese showed up off NJ, we would be in a far better legal and political position to intervene. And it would directly impact us, so we would intervene.

      Too late for what? Nobody wants those islands. They've been uninhabited for millennia. Claimants want the resources under the seas around the islands. The islands are just thought to give them more leverage.

      To recap the EP-3 incident, a Chinese fighter pilot flying carelessly and aggressively hit the EP-3. He died and his plane was lost. This was, by all accounts, a preventable accident.

      The EP-3 was forced to land on Chinese territory due to damage. The Chinese decided to ransack it for intel. We would have (and probably have) done the same thing.

      Now if the Chinese threaten to invade a neighboring country, we should definitely respond.

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    10. You're missing the main point regarding possession of the islands that "nobody wants" and that is the territorial and military expansion that they allow. Each island that they seize allows them (in their minds, anyway) to expand their EEZ and aircraft exclusion zones that much farther. It also extends their sensor and missile reach that much further.

      China is in the process of seizing the entire South and East China Seas and beyond. That's not even disputable.

      All that's needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. What are we doing? Nothing. What would Smitty have us do that's significantly different from nothing?

      Respond to a mere threat to invade a neighboring country?? I'm surprised at you! These are countries that, according to you (at least by implication) be don't really care about. Does it really matter to the US who controls Vietnam, for instance? It's certainly not worth going to war over, to be consistent with your logic.

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    11. The EP-3 incident was not an accident. I believe it was ordered. Had it truly been an accident, the Chinese would have immediately returned the aircraft and crew. Had it truly been an accident, there are international laws about assisting aircraft in an emergency and the aircraft are granted certain protections. The Chinese don't have much of a history of abiding by international laws, do they? Yet you want to grant them control of the first island chain? Wow.

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    12. You 'believe'....

      You believe the Chinese ordered one of their pilots to die so they might get their hands on an EP-3. I say "might", because an intentional midair collision between two aircraft usually doesn't end well for bothparties. And from the sound of it, he flew his cockpit directly into the bottom of the EP-3. Not a great move if you intend to survive the encounter.

      It's far more likely that the fighter pilot was ordered to harass the EP-3, as he had done several times in the past, as part of China's pattern of "peaceful bullying" behavior, and he just happened to suck as pilot.

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    13. I'd agree with B.Smitty here. This is not Munich.

      They are not going to someday demand that the US hand over New Jersey. If they did, the US would be in a far better position both legally and militarily.

      The islands are mostly wanted for the geographical location - that area is a chokepoint.

      As far as the resources, I have never seen any independent research saying that there are vast deposits of oil or natural gas under the shore. There's probably small to medium sized fields, but probably nothing big.

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    14. Alt, you understand that I'm not really suggesting China is going to seize NJ, right? I'm engaging in an exercise called logical extension. You take a seemingly logical concept and extend it to its limits and see if it still holds. If it does, you have a winner. If not, you need to revise it.

      So, a concept like we won't contest China seizing a small island that no one cares about can be extrapolated to China seizing a small island that no one cares about off the Carolina coast, let's say. Do we still not care? If we suddenly care, what's the difference?

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    15. We suddenly care because it's within our EEZ and/or territorial limits.

      http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/csdl/mbound.htm

      If it's outside of those, we care, but it would depend on why they did it. If it's to place ballistic missiles, then maybe we blockade and force them out. International law be damned. If it's to drill for whatever, then we may have to go through international channels to legally get them to leave.

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    16. "We suddenly care because it's within our EEZ and/or territorial limits."

      Fair enough. So, we care if China's actions impact our EEZ and/or territorial limits.

      What if China's actions impact an ally's EEZ and/or territorial limits?

      What if China's actions begin to curtail our freedom of passage due to their extension of their EEZ and territorial limits by annexing these islands? If they completely carry out their aims, they'll claim the entire South/East China Seas. A lot of trade to/from the US passes through the region as well as our military assets. Will we dispute their ever expanding limits on passage?

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    17. We do what we've always done to help allies. We bolster their militaries. We train together. We hold joint readiness exercises. We sign defense treaties. We back their protests with international organizations. We exercise freedom of the seas, and so on.

      Artificial islands don't qualify under territorial limit laws. EEZs don't prevent passage of our naval vessels.

      If they claim it, we deny their claims and operate in the territory claimed anyway.

      Right now that means sending Burkes or Ticos into the SCS. This isn't so bad if we don't really expect a conflict. But if tensions are rising, I wouldn't want them there. We need something else that can go there in numbers, show the flag, and be ready to fight, if needed. But something that doesn't have the tactical instability of a small SAG.

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    18. "We do what we've always done to help allies."

      Which in the case of China has thus far proven to be next to useless.

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    19. "Artificial islands don't qualify under territorial limit laws. EEZs don't prevent passage of our naval vessels. "

      Unfortunately, China believes they do and is operating as if they do. We are doing our part by obeying them. They are chasing off our Aegis cruisers and aircraft and we're complying.

      Unless we mean to cede the S/E Seas, our strategy is failing.

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    20. They can believe whatever they want. Believing doesn't make it so.

      http://amti.csis.org/what-makes-an-island-land-reclamation-and-the-south-china-sea-arbitration/

      If they declare territorial limits around these artificial islands, we and the other nations involved dispute this in international courts, and we proceed to drive warships through them anyway.

      In any case, they can't turn the entire SCS into an island.

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    21. You can believe that remaining inactive while China seizes islands and solidifies its hold on the S/E Seas won't have any negative consequences for the US but believing doesn't make it so.

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    22. "In any case, they can't turn the entire SCS into an island."

      I think you may be missing the point of an A2/AD zone. The further they extend their sensor/missile/base perimeter, the harder it will be for us to take any action, at any level. Maybe they can't make the entire SCS an island but they can make it a fortress.

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    23. They can try to create a bunch of itsy, bitsy fortresses at considerable expense. How much damage will the first typhoon through the area do to them? Second?

      Here's an interesting page on the status of islands in the SCS,

      http://amti.csis.org/island-tracker/

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    24. If you believe the islands have so little value, why do you think the Chinese are expending such great effort to control them?

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  2. I'd be more worried about nuclear war with China if we gave them New Jersey.

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  3. The reason why the Pentagon is tiptoeing around China is that the people who control the US government (both D and R) makes lots of money off of China Trade and they don’t want to disrupt it with any saber rattling from the Pentagon.

    The same reason why the Pentagon talks about terrorists but not much about Islamic fundamentalism, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest supporters of Islamic fundamentalism and supplying much of the ideology, money and manpower so even after the Saudi 9/11 attacks the government/media went into overdrive pointing at everything except Saudi Arabia.

    When you have half the government and many of the money people saying don’t upset China or Saudi Arabia then even the Pentagon has to speak softly

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  4. DJF, you're correct, of course, but that doesn't make it right or wise. This is not a political blog so I won't get into it other than to say that we need to impose equitable tariffs on China and get our manuf jobs back. Then we can begin to dig out from under China's financial control.

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    1. This.

      Corporate America has been profiting handsomely off of China. They don't want to slay the golden goose. That and China's economic clout is no longer something the US can completely dismiss.

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    2. Alt, there's short term profit and there's long term profit. Which is better, to create a situation that results in immediate short term profit but results in a long term weakened economy and reduced US strength or one which sacrifices short term profit for a long term, stable, strong American economy that can generate profit for an extended period? I know which I prefer!

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    3. So do I.

      I prefer long-term profit too. But the problems that have caused China to rise are caused by the short-term thinking that has affected corporate America.

      Hell, you could argue that most problems are self-inflicted in the US. Nobody forced the US to outsource manufacturing, or deregulate it's banking sector. The corporate short-term profit has done so. The nation's business leaders have literally sold out the nation - for their own wallets.


      Likewise, nobody is forcing the US to buy anything like the LCS. I'd argue it's the military industrial complex preventing the US from making a good ship (and one less profitable to the defense contractors).

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  5. I’m going to have to strongly agree with CNO on the China question the creation and annexation of these islands is much more about the expansion of EEZ and territorial waters than it is making “military aircraft carrier \ outputs islands”.

    Once these islands have been there long enough with some token locals setting up a token fishing village, then what, they get a 12 mile limit and an EEZ?

    This is a subtle game, not a course action.

    Where will this end? given the right rock strata they may well then build the next island chain and the next and the next, and I’m not going to be too comfortable when “island -dong feng - 1242” is just off the isle of Wight.

    More seriously though it’s a sign of intent. And although they have found a uniquely passive way to do this, it’s quite an aggressive sign. One might argue, even more so that deploying a carrier, in terms of a targeted message.
    As its saying we are here AND WE ARE STAYING!

    Beno

    P.S in terms of the strategy paper, its at least a start, a defining list which should now be expanded. A political document. I would hate to think this was the finished military article.

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    1. Ben, sadly, this is almost certainly the finished article.

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  6. FYI,

    An extremely interesting piece here,

    http://warisboring.com/articles/step-by-step-heres-how-to-defeat-china-in-a-war/

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    1. Smitty, I hadn't seen that. Thanks for the link. It is a fascinating piece. The proposed strategy could certainly be useful as an adjunct to a better strategy but as a standalone strategy it's badly flawed in a couple of ways. Still, it's fascinating, nonetheless.

      What was your impression?

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    2. I like the focus on offset and asymmetric strategy, rather than direct, symmetric confrontation.

      I also like the specifics and in-depth analysis of PRC weaknesses, rather than attempting to define how to take on some fluffy, abstract "near peer".

      Components he puts for could be used in isolation, in a less-than-total-war situation, or as part of a larger strategy.

      Without knowing the ultimate strategic goals (both ours and theirs), it's difficult to assess whether what would actually work, or how the PRC would react.

      How is it badly flawed?

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    3. I concur that at least the strategy is focused on an actual enemy and attempts to recognize their unique characteristics that could enable and benefit our strategy rather than the mythical capabilities-based enemy that we chosen to use to guide our strategy and procurement. I would call this a strong point for the author's strategy but, in reality, it's nothing more than strategy 101 - assess your enemy's strengths and weaknesses. It's only by comparison to our current idiotic strategizing that this looks like a good thing.

      I, too, applaud the effort to look at offset and asymmetric approaches although those words have taken on certain specific connotations that I disagree with.

      The flaws?

      1. An almost arrogantly (or foolishly) one-sided view of things. He describes what we'll do with the apparent assumption that the enemy will do nothing to counter or nothing to conduct their own offensive (or defensive) strategy. For example, he blithely declares that we will impose a distant "blockade" or interdiction of Chinese shipping without for a moment considering that the Chinese could do the same. He assumes that as we choke the Chinese energy sector that they will do nothing about it. And so on. A good strategy ought to anticipate at least some of the major actions the enemy might take. I realize he was writing a relatively short piece, not a book but a nodding recognition of the enemy's capabilities would be appropriate.

      2. He doesn't really define the end state of the conflict - the desired end goal. For example, the only thing worse than fighting a war with China would be to fight two wars with China. If we fight a war and our only goal is to restore pre-conflict status quo as closely as we can, the Chinese will simply gain a lot of experience, learn a bunch of warfighting lessons, rebuild, and we'll have to fight them again but from a much weaker relative position. When war comes, our goal must be to beat them so thoroughly that we'll never have to fight them again. That goal requires a completely different strategy than the author lays out. I have such a strategy in mind but it would not be productive or desirable to discuss in this forum. If you really want to hear more about it, email me (maybe in exchange for a post from you??)

      3. The author simply seems to assume some things are capable without assessing the reality. For example, he assumes we'll destroy his targets without any consideration of the difficulties implicit in that assumption. It's like saying, our strategy is to simultaneously take over every major Chinese city in one day - it's a valid strategic desire but completely unfeasible. Deeply penetrating China's mainland to hit the author's target list without any kind of rollback of defenses is not feasible.

      Now, a strategy doesn't necessarily need to be instantly feasible to be valid. If we thought the author's strategy was exactly what we needed then we'd embark on a program of building up our bomber force to the levels needed to accomplish the task and we'd look to develop other ways to accomplish it. So, a good strategy can, and should, provide a roadmap for our development and procurement efforts, as I've said repeatedly. In this case, though, the desired action and required resources are so far from any budget reality that I can't see any way to get there without a massive rethinking of our entire military.

      It's the lack of a really good end condition that is the biggest flaw. That's where the US efforts have fallen down in the past. We had no good end condition for Korea, Desert Storm, OIF, or any of the other actions we've jumped into.

      What do you think?

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    4. 1) He describes the goals of an air and naval campaign. He describes a target list based on a set of effects he wishes to produce. I think he does a decent job of this, given the scope of the white paper. He doesn't take it to the next step and determine what would be required to hit them.

      2) The desired end state of a conflict is a political question and highly dependent on the circumstances of the conflict. He doesn't delve into this, and i'm fine with that.

      IMHO, beating down a nuclear power to the degree you suggest could easily result in them launching nukes. That is certainly NOT a desired end state.

      The author's plan is designed around limiting the overall damage to mainland China, but still strangling a critical and limited resource - energy. It seems he hopes by not going for a Desert Storm/OIF style decapitation campaign, the PRC will be less likely to go nuclear.

      3) He doesn't go into the "how". But he does say, "It is also a strategy that could be executed today, with today’s force structure, posture and today’s personnel."

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    5. The closest the author comes to a strategic objective is,

      "The foundation for a military campaign against the PRC, presumably with the objective of stopping or reversing Chinese aggression ..."

      He's not even sure it's his strategic goal (the word presumably!) and, at best, his strategy would only stop aggression (leaving China with whatever gains they've accumulated to that point) or reverse it, whatever the author means by that (presumably some sort of return to the previous status quo).

      You say that the desired end state is a political question and you're fine with it not being covered. The desired end state IS THE BASIS OF A STRATEGY!!! You can't be fine with it or it's not a strategy. In this case, the author's writing is not a strategy - it's an operation considered in complete isolation from any coherent end goal.

      You then express the fear that if we hurt China too badly by my approach (which you don't yet know) that we risk nuclear war. Yet, you seem to accept the author's desire to inflict a massive beating via extensive and all-encompassing attacks on energy, infrastructure , military, shipping, etc. all of which will result in massive hardship, starvation, and civilian deaths with no concerns about nuclear retaliation. Further, and more baffling, you seem to assume the entire responsibility for avoiding nuclear war lies with the US. China bears the entire responsibility for risking nuclear war by engaging in actions sufficiently damaging as to warrant US combat involvement.

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    6. How can he come up with a strategy without knowing the goals of a conflict? Is it regime change? Rolling back a few ill-begotten reefs or islands? Retaking Taiwan?

      We are not at war with China, so we can't know what our strategic goals might be if such a conflict took place. Our strategy will be driven by those goals.

      For example, if all we want to do is to get them to stop developing artificial islands in other peoples' EEZ, our strategy won't be to "beat them so thoroughly that we'll never have to fight them again". There are far less apocalyptic strategies to accomplish that goal.

      Note, he says the "foundation for a military campaign". So he is defining a campaign framework that could be applicable to many different scenarios, with many different goals.

      I don't really know at what point the PRC leadership would say, "That's enough! Push the big red button." However they are far more likely to do so if their hold on power is crumbling, IMHO.



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    7. You're just not grasping the concept of a strategy. The author is presenting a strategy to defeat China. I don't think he uses the word strategy (I'd have to reread to be sure) but he presents a methodology to defeat China in a war. What is that if not a strategy?

      You are correct that we have to know what our goals are. Unfortunately, we can't wait, as you suggest, until the war starts. We have to plan these things ahead of time - well ahead of time so that we can be building the necessary forces all along. Thus, we MUST define the end goals. C'mon, you get this, right? We didn't wait until the attack on Pearl Harbor to develop our strategy. We developed many strategies and gamed them out for years ahead of the war. C'mon, you get this, right?

      If the author is going to present a de facto strategy, he needs to elucidate the end goal. Otherwise, it's just an isolated operational concept with no connection to anything concrete - and that's exactly what his document is. That's its failing.

      Again, I'll say it. As an adjunct to a real strategy, the author's concept might (or might not) be useful. As a strategy it's badly flawed.

      We can't be so afraid of the threat of nuclear war that we fall into appeasement. Instead, we have to be so strong that it's crystal clear that attempting to engage in nuclear war would mean their immediate death. That's MAD only we should endeavor to ensure that's it's not MAD but, rather, one-sided destruction (and no, the destruction doesn't have to be nuclear).

      Would you agree that our half-hearted goals in the past have led directly to today's problems? Don't make me list them. You know the examples as well as I do.

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    8. We don't seem to have any unless you consider appeasement to be a goal. What you should have asked is what our goals should be and I've already fairly strongly hinted at those.

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