Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Green Bay Packers

The old Green Bay Packers of Vince Lombardi’s day supposedly used to tell the opposing players what play they were going to run and dare them to stop it.  For those readers from around the world who may not be familiar with the reference, we’re talking about football (real football, not soccer) and, arguably, the greatest team to ever play the game.  You have to admire a team that is so good, so strong, so talented, and so determined that they’re willing to tell you the upcoming play because they don’t believe you can stop them even if you know what’s coming.  That’s power!

The Chinese just told us in no uncertain terms what’s coming.

As USNI website reports (1),

“The head of the People’s Liberation Army Navy told his U.S. counterpart that China has no intention of stopping its island building campaign in the South China Sea Spratly Islands …”

Well, that seems crystal clear.  The Chinese have claimed the entire South China Sea and all islands and features in it and are daring us to stop them. 

Yeah, but the Chinese are such friendly, reasonable, and peace-loving people the Chinese apologists assure us, maybe we misunderstood what was said.  Well, here it is stated another way.

““We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands [Spratly] halfway… the Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” PLAN’s Wu Shengli told Richardson …”

Sure sounds like they're serious, right?  Still, they’re just harmless bases, aren't they?

“Wu also said that Beijing would reserve the right to increase defenses in the location”

OK, I guess they’re going to be major defense installations.

So, what will happen if the US doesn’t vacate the Sea and, instead, continues its sporadic and worse than useless Freedom of Navigation exercises?

““This kind of military freedom of navigation is damaging to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and it could even play out in a disastrous way,” Adm. Sun Jianguo …”

China is telling us that they’re going to create an incident if we don’t capitulate.

This could not be any clearer.  China is telling us exactly what they’re going to do in the South China Sea because they don’t believe we can stop them.  It’s as simple as that.  They’ve slapped us in the face with a glove, told us their play, and are daring us to do anything about it.

America, your move.  What are you going to do?


(1)USNI News website, “PLAN’s Wu to CNO Richardson: Beijing Won’t Stop South China Sea Island Building”, Sam LaGrone, July 18, 2016,


  1. A) I'm a Lions fan. Packers, Blech.
    B) What we should do, and what we will do, are two different things. I'm guessing we'll continue the FoN cruises with weapons tight until one of our 'Burkes or Tico's ends up getting shot, strafed, or torpedoed. Pity the poor crewman.

  2. Replace current FoN vessels with LCS. That saves face and at the same time does not threaten the Chinese.

    1. I assume you meant that as sarcastic humor in which case, good one!!!

    2. Or, resurrect the Perry Frigate,

      Just saw a clip on target practice on decommissioned USS Thach. It took 4 harpoons, 2 Hellfire, 2 bombs, and 1 MK48 torp. to gave her a proper burial (actually, at the end of clip, She was still afloat, albeit a little beat up).

      It is not too late.


    3. I think the Perry's are gone. The ones we had were basically ignored by the navy for years, so they are in rough shape. Maybe...

      Maybe we could license build an Incheon class from SK if they are built with some survivability. They have better fit, range, and comparable draft to the LCS.

      One thing about the Thatch. She wasn't full of fuel and ordinance. I love the Perry's but that might not make that SinkEx entirely representative.

    4. As an addendum, I've read some comments from some of the LCS supporters in favor of a very small, non survivable surface combatant instead of a frigate, due to the number of high end vessels we have (mainly 'Burkes'). Their arguments can be compelling. I'm not against a small, very cheap 'presence' vessel to do anti piracy missions and the like per se.

      Its the LCS I hate, because it stinks at even that. Its nearly a billion dollars, doesn't work in 2/3's of its mission modules, and has crappy range.

      For what the LCS people want, and for our needs in a pacific pivot, the LCS is patently terrible. We'd be better off just buying a straight up civilian vessel with lots of range and hanging a 57mm off of it and calling it good. We could pay the original $250 million, have all the automation we wanted, and realize that in a shooting war these things get relegated to harbor duty.

  3. Don't we want to present a credible threat to the Chinese? If we are going to try to stop them from taking the nine dashed line as a fate accompli, against the rulings of UNCLOS and the complaints of their neighbor, we have to present something that shows our national will.

    They'd do it to us.

    1. They already set that precedence in the Artic.


  4. *ideally* though I don't know if this happens, I'd like to see international forces doing a FoN together if we do nothing else. A 'Burke, a Sejong the Great, and a Kongo all steaming in formation would say something.

    1. It would say something. It would say that we're willing to posture but not actually do anything.

      Jim, you're a very good reader and commenter so please don't take this as anything personal but what a worthless idea. Heck, we could have the entire US Navy sail past an island but if we aren't willing to actually take action then it accomplishes nothing.

      Again, you're a great reader and I value you so please don't take offense.

      Remember the Tiananman Square incident in 1989? A column of tanks versus one man and the man won because they weren't willing to run him over. Until we're willing to run over China, all our tanks and ships mean nothing. You need to grasp that idea.

    2. Yes but, with all respect, CNOps, what would "running over China" actually mean? Destroying their installations in the disputed islands? Sinking ships, shooting down aircraft that try to percent that? Attacking mainland bases that support those ships, aircraft …?

      Here's an idea. Confiscate the I-dont-know-how-many-trillion US Government bonds held by Chinese companies and citizens, not irrevocably, but till such time as the CHinese government complies with the UNCLOS ruling.

      Obvious downside: China stops exporting to US. Then, who suffers more?

    3. The Chinese are currently at war with us. We don't know it but it's happening. We need to recognize that we are in a war and start fighting back. When China wages war it does so with all the instruments at its disposal and we need to do the same. We need to employ economic, diplomatic, academic, cyber, and military means.

    4. No worries CNO, You can be blunt but never rude.

      My comment was in the context of 'we likely won't do anything else' from my previous post and I didn't make that clear. WE should be doint more. Under current administration and likely the next we probably won't.

      Yes, I agree, it would be largely worthless, but if FoN cruises are going to do anything it would be better to have a multinational group do it; even more so with Asian nations so we can dispense with their silliness of 'Western Justice' picking on them.

      That said, you're right, it wouldn't likely do much.

      I do like your idea of trying to power wash them off islands under construction.

      I don't know what to do with the currently built 'islands'.

    5. "we likely won't do anything else"

      Now that's true! In that context, we'd be better off doing nothing. Our presence is increasing tensions and accomplishing nothing. Since we don't have the will to accomplish anything we may as well leave the area. We're simply embarrassing ourselves. That's the sad reality, at the moment.

  5. There will be two other monkey wrenches in the mix.

    1. Installation of nuclear power plants on these islands, as passive aggressive insurance (environmental disaster) against kinetic intervention.

    2. China will payoff the PH to settle the 'illegality', hence 'make it right' its deeds after fact. It will be a bidding game to curry PH's favor.


    1. I seriously doubt the first but that's a fascinating theory for the second!

      Good comment.

  6. I've mentioned in the past, I think your short story article, that Indonesia has a policy of destroying all ships that trespass its sovereign waters. In one incident, the indonesian navy stopped a chinese fishing trawler, then had its communications jammed by the Chinese coast guard and forced to return the crew and ship. Why can't we do the same to one of those sand barges thats building those islands?

    1. We could, if we had the will - which we lack.

  7. So we are looking at a very likely maritime war within the next 5 years.

    1. Actually, no. China stated that they owned the South China Sea, they set about fortifying it, and they succeeded, all without a shot being fired. Our inaction has given them the victory by forfeit. As long as our policy continues to be one of appeasement, there will be no war. Of course, all appeasement does is make it that much harder when we do, eventually, decide to act. WWII is screaming lessons at us and we're not listening.

    2. True, but the US never saw the island build up as a credible threat to begin with. America can't do all of the heavy lifting for the rest of the ASEAN countries. They are the ones that let China enact their own Monroe Doctrine.

  8. A) US Version of football involves an awful lot of handling of the ball, and not a lot of kicking, so no idea why you guys insist that it's the correct version of 'football'.
    B) Its not that they dont believe you can stop them, they know you CAN, only, that you WONT. Big difference. Doubt the Packers were operating under similar circumstances.

    1. " US Version of football involves an awful lot of handling of the ball, and not a lot of kicking, so no idea why you guys insist that it's the correct version of 'football'."

      Because, unlike soccer, the teams actually score and it's exciting to watch. Soccer fans have to riot in order to break the boredom.

    2. ARGH

      while i enjoy watching a game of NFL, it is NOT exciting to watch, plays last seconds at most, with long minutes delay between them. Without getting into a pissing contest, try watching a game of Rugby Union, at least once. Theres an enjoyable game of football.

      As to the Chinese conundrum, i dont know that the US is really capable of changing the game in that neck of the woods.
      S. Korea is a responsible powerful ally. Japan is a responsible powerful ally. Phillipines is a responsible minor power, and ally.
      But, together, they're a bunch of fractious kids, who, despite having a belligerent, bellicose giant China standing over them and bullying the crap out of them, they still distrust and despise each other so much, that they can't agree on even the most basic self defence co-operation league. Should China actually declare war on one of these nations, i get the impression the others would gather around and gleefully cheer, never for 1 second being sensible and thinking, maybe I'm next.
      With allies such as these in the region, i think your armed services will really struggle to curb chinese influence.

  9. A) cause Murica, thats why.
    B) the end result is the same thou.

  10. China's pretty good at coming up with provocations that fall short of starting actual hostilities, but advance their cause anyway. So, I doubt we'll see much more than cold-war style mutual harassment between PLAN and USN. The Chinese style will be more to push hard on the Philippines than to directly confront the US.

    Remember,the US has no territorial claims in the region, and we support Chinese rights to navigation as much as anyone else's, so it's not really in our national interest to just go in blazing. IMHO, we're better served by not rising to provocations but calmly defending our allies and international law. Don't let the neighborhood bully set the tempo of the confrontation.

    The interesting bit will come when one of our allies (most likely the Philippines) gets aggressive about defending their own territorial rights. I think it's already common for fishing and coast guard boats to have shoving matches while PLAN and PN navy ships wait over the horizon. The next move is when the PN navy comes in to push the Chinese fishing ships away while USN ships are in the background. That's when it gets interesting.

    Or, the Chinese could keep up their high-level posturing, while backing down in the field just enough to prevent flashpoints for a year or two...

    (Do Navy people say "in the field"?)

    1. "The interesting bit will come when one of our allies (most likely the Philippines) gets aggressive about defending their own territorial rights. I think it's already common for fishing and coast guard boats to have shoving matches while PLAN and PN navy ships wait over the horizon. The next move is when the PN navy comes in to push the Chinese fishing ships away while USN ships are in the background. That's when it gets interesting."

      I doubt it, the Chinese Warship would simply radio "Mayday Mayday under fire" and then sink the PN vessel.
      The US ship would be ordered to stand down until an investigation determines exactly what occurred. Said investigation reaches a conclusion 20 years later that is entirely ambiguous, in the mean time China marches on.

  11. The Chinese have a nice "we're the victims" set up for provoking a conflict. Their naval militia (i.e. armed and agressive) fishing boats continually fish in of-limits water, then Chinese Coast Guard vessels...armed better than the LCS...come to their rescue since Coast Guards are purely defensive of course.
    Perhaps China's potential adversaries should borrow from them.
    As an Old Fart, I remember that Reagan armed 13 of the Hamilton class USCG cutters with harpoon missiles, sonar, torpedoes, a phalanx, 76mm and decent radar--in other words a frigate. The current National Security Cutter can uparmed (especially on future builds). The same can be done for the PI, Indonesia, Japan, etc.
    China doesn't believe that we would send burkes or carriers out against militia/cg...but what about our own CG?
    Perhaps the Navy could loan some of our (groan) LCS platforms to them "just until the OPC comes online". And of course the Perry's we are selling could be sold to ally CG instead of navies or even transferred to our own CG. There is a longstanding tradition of the USCG using older USN vessels.

  12. Off topic,

    No one is saying anything about the failed coup in Turkey,
    Authoritarian govt, is now rounding up secular teachers, lecturers and public servants by the 10's of thousands, Attaturks vision of a secular Turkey is on its very last legs, and almost certainly done,
    And in the midst of all that, Incerlink airbase, has had running water and electricity cut off from it for the last 4 days.
    There are 1500 US servicemen there. AND, a few dozen US nukes, which, for all intents and purposes, are not really under US control any longer, as there are over 10,000 turkish 'police' surrounding the airbase.
    None of your carriers have been ordered back into the Med,
    This is a disaster, nearly as big as the Syrian one, i fear its about to get bad, really really bad, and i hear nothing about it on any US news feeds.
    Curious what your folks take on this is, cause, i'm pretty sure that the last secular muslim state is about to turn into a shit storm.


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