Sunday, May 31, 2015

Who's Out of Step?

Defense News website reports on remarks by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter regarding China’s expansionist policies. (1)

"China is out of step with both the international rules and norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific's security architecture, and the regional consensus that favors diplomacy and opposes coercion."

China is clearly setting the tone in the South and East China Seas. 

It is very important to understand and recognize that statement.  Let’s say it again.

China is clearly setting the tone in the South and East China Seas. 

That means that it is not China that is out of step – China is establishing the “step”.  It is the US that is out of step with China.  It is up to us and, indeed, in our best interest to recognize China’s “step” and get ourselves in synch with them. 

Now, getting in synch does not mean going along with China’s desires.  It means that we have to gear our diplomatic and military capabilities to their actions.  Instead, we are somehow hoping that they will gear their actions to our “step”.  The Pacific Pivot, which has, thus far, turned out to be mostly words and little effective action, was a very tentative first step in aligning our actions with their steps.  We need to aggressively continue that movement and it has to be backed with credible military force and will.  The Navy, in particular, can and will play a major role in relations with China and we need to make some major adjustments in our force structure and capabilities.

The point of this post is not the politics of the situation but the military and naval adjustments that need to be made.

(1)Defense News, “Carter: China 'Out of Step' With Pacific”, Aaron Mehta , 30-May-2015,


  1. The US is out of step by design. It does not intend to confront China and so there are steps it is unwilling to take. This vacuum is from a lack of leadership. China sees the weakness as plain as daylight.

  2. The way our fleet is managed I really don't think we have the ability to effectively challenge China now if it came down to brass tacks. Not that we couldn't hurt them, but the risk would be huge.

    We've already seen them surface their SSN's in amongst our CVBG's. They have a host of long range missiles they could put on their new islands. They're building airstrips and have aircraft that can outrange ours. They have destroyers and frigates armed with new, fast AShM's. With all those in combination.... it makes for very dangerous territory for any surface action group we have; what with our lowered ability for ASW, MCM, the short legs of the Hornet and SuperHornet, and the lack of anti surface capability on many of our ships.

    We talk about developing 'distributed lethality'. It seems within the South China Sea the Chinese already have it.

    1. Jim, without having access to detailed reports about actual Chinese weapon performance, we're all just speculating. I believe we still have a margin of superiority, although the trends are going in the wrong directions, but we are squandering it. I don't remotely believe all the Chinese claims about their weapon systems any more than I believe ours. As we've seen, it's easy to claim capabilities but it's much more difficult to make them work. There's no reason to believe that the Chinese are able to magically wave their hands at technical problems any more than we can. That said, their pace of development is certainly more impressive than ours and, more importantly, their design concepts are more impressive as they relate to force structure and strategy.

      You're correct about the distributed lethality and we discussed that very issue a while ago when we discussed the naval equivalent of the 3:1 attacker to defender ratio as it applies to the A2/AD zone.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.