Wednesday, October 17, 2018

China War - Setting The Stage

War with China appears to be inevitable.  Many people don’t believe that or, rather, don’t want to believe it.  You know what, though?  For the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter.  We’re going to stipulate that a war with China is coming for the sake of discussion.  You don’t need to believe it but it’s only wise to prepare for the possibility even if you don’t think it will happen.  To totally ignore the possibility would be the height of foolishness.  This somewhat long-winded opening paragraph serves to set the stage for this post and eliminate the inevitable “China is our friend, a peace loving world neighbor, and would never consider going to war” comments.  I’m not going to allow a debate of whether China will or won’t go to war.  Instead, we’re going to discuss and plan for a war regardless of how likely or unlikely you or I, personally, believe it to be.

Whew!  Glad to get that out of the way.

Now, what I’m going to discuss is general considerations associated with a war with China.  Note that most of this would apply in a general sense to any enemy and any war.

Before we go any further, we need to stipulate that the US will not start a war with China.  That means that a war will be started by China.  That initial condition dictates many aspects of the war.  China will get the first strikes, will be able to initiate land seizures, establish the initial location and conditions of combat, etc.  Thus, America’s first actions will be purely reactionary and defensive.

The recognition that our first actions will be defensive should dictate our peacetime posture and raise questions such as,

  • How many and what type of forces we should have forward deployed given that they will be hit hard and likely lost in the opening moments of a war?

  • Should our few forward bases be hardened more than they are given the expected ballistic and cruise missile attacks?

  • Do we have sufficient forward deployed engineering assets to quickly rebuild initially damaged bases?

  • Is it wise to have naval forces based in Japan given the proximity to Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles and the resultant likelihood of their loss?

  • Are our forces positioned so as to quickly respond to initial invasion/seizure attempts?

  • Are we willing to fight for Taiwan in the initial stages of a war?

The issue of Taiwan is one that needs to be addressed.  In any war, Taiwan will be the first (or co-first) objective of China for two main reasons:

  1. China has long wanted control over Taiwan and a war offers the perfect opportunity regardless of the actual purpose of the war.

  1. More importantly, China simply cannot allow an enemy base to exist in its front yard during a war.  Strategically and operationally, Taiwan must be eliminated as a threat.

Thus, the U.S. will have the choice of trying to fight a very difficult battle to support/retake Taiwan, deep in the heart of the Chinese A2/AD zone or to abandon Taiwan and allow it to become a Chinese fortress anchoring the first island chain A2/AD zone.  Neither choice is particularly palatable but the issue must be accounted for in initial war planning.

Moving on, the biggest requirement in any war planning and, ironically, the biggest failing of most people who discuss war plans, is the need to define the desired end result.  Presumably, that means victory, right?  After all, who enters a war with losing being the desired end result?  Ironically, and disturbingly, the US has not attempted to win a war since WWII.  Even Desert Storm turned out to be a tactical and operational victory and a long term strategic failure.  So, what general conditions would constitute a desirable end result, if not victory, in a war with China?  Let’s consider some possibilities.

Conquer all of mainland China – Well, that’s just absurd.  We don’t have the manpower, weapons, capacity, or will to engage in that level of war and, even if we did, it’s highly unlikely that we could successfully (meaning, for any cost that we’d be willing to pay) subjugate a country of 1.4 billion people who have been raised to hate us.  While a conquered China that is no longer a threat to the rest of the world is a highly desirable end state, it is just not realistically achievable. 

This is just an idiotic non-starter of an idea.

Return to pre-war status quo – This is probably the end result that most people would choose.  While this would return the world to “normal” it presents one major problem – we’ll have to fight the war all over again, down the road.  China will learn military lessons, rearm (while incorporating the lessons), and try again.  This is essentially what happened with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.  We returned Iraq to the pre-war conditions and, sure enough, wound up having to fight the same war/country/leader again.  We had the opportunity at the end of Desert Storm to permanently eliminate Iraq/Hussein and opted not to. 

Status quo doesn’t gain anything for the US or the world.  If we’re going to commit to war and pay a horrific price in lives, it’s mandatory that we improve the world in some way – not just return to status quo. 

This is a viable and achievable end result but it produces no net positive gain for the US or the world and ensures that we’ll fight another war.

Negotiated settlement – This allows China to achieve a portion of its goals in exchange for peace – essentially, we “sell” various countries, locations, rights, and controls at the negotiating table in order to avoid continued fighting.  China gains, to a degree, undoubtedly a significant degree, and we and the rest of the world lose. 

This also sets a horrible precedent that China can initiate a war, seize what it wants plus a bit more, and then return the parts it didn’t really want and keep the parts it did want while looking like it is negotiating in good faith and desires peace.

This guarantees future wars.

That pretty much covers the common end results.  See what I mean about the disturbing lack of actual victory conditions?  Only conquering all of mainland China is an actual victory and it’s unachievable. 

So, where does that leave us?

There is one, and only one, other logical end result and it happens to result in an actual victory with actual long term improvement in the world condition.

Military and Academic Annihilation – This results in the complete defeat of China’s military but does not require occupation of China.  We simply, systematically, destroy China’s military and destroy China’s military industry.  This, alone, however, is not enough.  That end result would leave China’s leadership in place and the country intact.  China would learn lessons and rebuild its industry and military and we’d have to eventually fight the war all over again at some point in the future.  To prevent this, we need to go a step further and utterly destroy China’s academic capability.  We need to destroy every university, every think tank, every study group, every research facility, every school.  We need to eliminate China’s ability to produce new engineers and scientists that can eventually design new military factories and new weapons.  That’s how you prevent a repeat, future war.


Having set the desired end result, we now have to set the initial conditions and, most importantly, our initial force disposition.  Having already stipulated that the first strike will go to China, we have to consider a force disposition that allows us to absorb a first strike without crippling damage – in other words, not another Pearl Harbor.

For example, having a single carrier based in Japan is inviting a first strike, immediate loss of a carrier.  We should reconsider the wisdom and benefit of a single carrier in Japan versus the risk of immediate loss.

Guam is a Pearl Harbor waiting to happen.  Again, we need to reconsider the benefits versus the risk.  At the moment, Guam is not host to a lot of naval force so a strike would not represent a crippling blow.  On the other hand, we have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of ships based there and we should consider the risk carefully.

Hand in hand with risk assessment, we should carefully review the defendability of Guam and make major improvements if we want to maintain it as a viable and survivable forward base.

Pearl Harbor is also a Pearl Harbor waiting to happen and all the same considerations apply.  While Pearl Harbor has the advantage of greater distance from China, it is not beyond the reach of a first strike.

For both Pearl Harbor and Guam, we need to establish a continuous anti-submarine (ASW) barrier around and between those sites and China

Beyond absorbing the first strike, we also want to have forces positioned to enable us to hit back hard and quickly in response to the first strike in an attempt to produce a pause in combat which will enable us to “set” ourselves for continued combat.

Thus, we need a combat ready surge force.  Unfortunately, our military leaders have produced a hollow force that is far from ready.  Returning carrier groups, for example, are scavenged for aircraft, personnel, and equipment to transfer to deploying groups.  The remaining aircraft and pilots barely get enough monthly flight hours to remain flight qualified.

Our aircraft availability rates are barely 50% across all services and aircraft types.

Our ships are barely seaworthy with multiple equipment failures, training lapses, and personnel shortages.

And so on.

As previously discussed, we need to end deployments and move to a mission based system in which we can reset our forces, catch up on maintenance, and train rigorously.

Hand in hand with initial kinetic strikes, China will launch massive cyber attacks.  We need to ensure that we are prepared to defend our networks or function without them.  Our crippling dependence on networks and our naïve assumption that we will always have them is a critical vulnerability.

This discussion leads to questions like what force structure and numbers do we need to implement the victory conditions but that’s a post for another time.

We now understand the initial conditions of war with China and the challenges we will face.  Now, before the shooting begins, is the time to plan, prepare, and train.  We need to adjust our force structure, reposition our forces, build up our bases, and train for the initial actions.  There is no hindsight required, here.  The initial conditions are easily anticipated.  We need our modern War Plan Orange.

Regarding comments, I’d like to have a reasoned, logical discussion about this. 

I am specifically not going to allow comments suggesting that we can’t even sneeze in China’s direction because they might begin using nuclear weapons.  That’s absurd beyond belief.  Yes, there could be a point where, in extremis, China would use nuclear weapons but it’s not going to be because we shoot down a plane or some such trivial action.


  1. Q, Do you have a historical example of M&AA victory conditions in use ? (M&AA sounds like the Morgenthau plan, yes ?)

    Q, Have you considered the use of CBW against island bases ?
    [Soviet 2nd echelon forces would have used such around day 5 of the NATO war.]

    Chinese Gordon

    1. There is no historical example that I'm aware of. Yes, it has elements in common with the Morgenthau plan.

      Germany and Japan essentially had their military and military-industrial base wiped out but no effort was made to eliminate their educational capacity.

      The key distinction between WWII Germ/Jap and this China scenario is that we actually occupied Germ/Jap and dictated much of their post-war recovery and direction. That is not an option with China (I stipulated that it would not be feasible to occupy China) so, since we can't direct the post-war recovery, elimination of the academic capacity is the solution.

    2. Hi CNO,

      Had a thought about not being feasible to occupy their whole land. That might not be completely true. If we got some help from India, it might be possible to revert China to it's pre Tibet conquest times, where China is actually only about 1/2 to 2/3 it's current size , before it occupied the Western regions. Give Tibet it's autonomy again, or allow it to be an Indian state/province. Tibet was apparently friendly with India, so it's always possible, and INdia has the advantage of a massive China size population- the only country to be so- It;s the only time that China's huge population won't be able to overwhelm most other countries.

      From there, perhaps it's possible to break China up into smaller countries, a little like the USSR collapse. An easy one is Hainan Island. A US military base offshore of CHina? Give it to Taiwan?

      Obviously reducing the land mass doesn't reduce the population size, but it's something to consider.


    3. "might be possible to revert China to it's pre Tibet conquest times,"

      That's an interesting thought. The challenges would be enormous but it's worth study.

    4. "Had a thought about not being feasible to occupy their whole land. That might not be completely true. If we got some help from India, it might be possible to revert China to it's pre Tibet conquest times"

      Yep yep yep.
      The US wouldnt want to occupy China, but that doesnt mean no one else would want to occupy any of it, probably a third of eastern China could be hived off in to India, Free Tibet and Free XinJiangistan.
      Russia might decide to help itself to the North East, territory it ceded t Japan in 1905, Hainan could be carved off as a Taiwan esque free china state.

  2. One thing not mentioned in the post that I think may be a legitimate possibility, is instead of making these forward deployed locations like Guam and Taiwan either negligible losses or easily abandoned, but rather survivable military strongholds.

    This would require significant preparation and planning, but even in the world today, I think it is not only achievable, but advantageous to our position in such a war with China.

    With a combination of extensive numbers of land based CIWS, along with Aegis ashore would make a victory over Taiwan far more difficult, and as long as the ships that are forward deployed are patrolling on a regular basis, would make it more than difficult.

    On top of that, creating our own ready mini bases in the south china sea would be advantageous, forcing them to engage multiple targets, potentially lessening the severity of an attack on any single location. Also, a big advantage may be to invest in a significant number of decoy bases and decoy emplacements at major bases, which is something the military should be in a regular habit of doing.

    On the other hand if the plan is to accept minor losses while surrendering/losing the locations, and worry about retaking them or negotiating for them later, I think the strategy for places like Guam or Tawain is to have a plan to make the occupation of such a place a living hell for China.

    This is only off the cuff, but perhaps something like having large hidden armories meant to be opened to be raided by the locals and have as much of an armed populace as possible after leaving. Granted, it may open up other problems, but as long as the average islander resents being riled by China, it will create enough unrest that even if we cannot retake the islands, the Chinese may regret doing so in the first place.

    Perhaps I am off base with the scope logistics and the particulars involved in both options, but I think both should be seriously considered.

    1. "survivable military strongholds."

      We need bases somewhere and the choices are extremely limited. With that said, you're correct that the solution is to "harden" the bases in all respects.

      Additional, alternate bases (real or decoy) is desirable but there just aren't many (any?) options.

      I have doubts about a civilian insurgency. The Chinese haven't hesitated to massacre their own people so I wouldn't think they'd hesitate to engage in wholesale massacres of civilians if an insurgency formed.

    2. You bring up a great point about the Chinese regard for civilian life, but I think I may stand by it for the same reasons.

      Communism has a reliable history of "purges" and the like to ensure a more pacified populace, and eliminate dissenters. I still think an armed insurgency would be the best option to ensure those that would be our biggest advocates or best help in retaking the islands/expelling the Chinese would at least have a fighting chance before being lined up against the wall.

      The Chinese have already proven they are willing to kill unarmed Chinese citizens en mass to eliminate unrest. China censors Tienanmen square and has not shown much remorse for committing the acts to this day. The only backlash for it was from outside pressure. If they think they are the dominant power in the region, and retake Taiwan to reintegrate it into the country, I think we are in for the greatest human rights violations since World War II.

      If that happens, even if we win the war, I think we will have lost the will of a nation that was an ally and economic partner forever. I'd rather take the option of giving them the chance to fight and die than simply die while wondering why no one came to their aid.

      Sorry, this did kind of devolve to a philosophy argument, but I think it should still be considered within the overall conversation.

    3. Oh I have no problem with providing the means to resist! I'm just quite dubious about the effectiveness of such resistance when the occupying party is willing to engage in wholesale slaughter of civilians.

  3. On October 10th 2018 a van parked at a motel adjacent to Tyndall AFB shot mortars into a hanger where 55 f-22's were stored. The mortar team was able to completely destroy the hanger. The simple but deadly attack lasted six minutes. This of course did not happen. Hurricane Michael did the attack. They moved all but 17 of the planes to my neck of the woods where they may have put them all in one hanger again...The condition of the remaining 17 in the destroyed hanger is unknown. How could this happen? Any Jihaddi/Chinese attack team could have wiped out 1/3 of our precious F-22's just like the 19? Saudi team that cleaned our clock on 911.
    I assume that some local commander or somebody like Adm Halsey who knew/felt that the attack from Japan was coming will call this one as there will be clear telegraphing coming from the Chinese?? Every day I check the web cam to make sure the Roosevelt
    or whoever it is is docked in Yokasuka doing its job as a sitting duck. I would not want to be on that ship. I know that anything stationary is dead meat, including those islands.

    1. "all in one hanger again"

      This was one of the issues at Pearl Harbor. Instead of dispersing the aircraft they were clustered for security reasons and, therefore, presented lucrative targets for Japanese aircraft.

  4. I believe we would be able to do the Morgenthau plan without kinetics. Either by Champ missiles or no oil for them.

  5. CNO. Its ok to attack me. I'm used to it. I have been laughed off stages before! Literally.

  6. This is a somewhat tangential observation, but I hesitate to share too much hi tech, i.e. Aegis Ashore, stealth technology, latest variant of Patriot, etc., with Taiwan, because I have no confidence that their military has not been penetrated by Chinese intel. Said penetration would put our own systems at greater risk. An option would be to help Taiwan purchase a slightly dumbed down version of a French Aster air defense system. Chinese air assets would still be held at risk without increasing the vulnerability of our own systems. Feel free to tell me I'm silly.

    1. You're likely correct. However, all indications are that the Chinese have probably already obtained all the classified, technical material they need! That being the case, there's no great drawback to providing the equipment other than the likelihood that it will be seized and used against us when Taiwan falls.

    2. Would there not be a way of installing a kill switch or some other device that would enable us to disable US designed/provided equipment, via radio signal or internet link, that falls into Chinese hands?

    3. The problem with installing killswitches is that it now gives your opponent another weapon to use against you. Killswitches are a double edged sword, because you can use them against other people, but if the killswitch falls into the wrong hands or is reverse engineered, then the other guy gets to use said killswitch on you.

    4. Instead of a technically complicated and risky killswitch, why not just train Taiwanese forces to destroy equipment before surrender or retreat with conventional explosives? It shouldn't be that hard to hand out some C4 .

    5. "Instead of a technically complicated and risky killswitch, why not just train Taiwanese forces to destroy equipment before surrender or retreat with conventional explosives? It shouldn't be that hard to hand out some C4 ."
      Routing forces either run away, or sell their equipment, it takes real discipline to risk capture to destroy your gear

  7. I assume the chinese would launch their 1400+ srbm before any land assault on Taiwan. They would keep em/chatter as low as possible before launch. While most of their missiles are solid fueled many are not and that would be one advanced "tell". It does not matter. The ROC would shelter in place with most of their assets in underground bunkers which would not launch until the chinese assault fleet began their 4-5 hour? mission. CNO, how long does it take to sink 68 ships all on a fairly known course?

    1. The best defense against an invasion fleet would be mines but whether Taiwan could lay enough in time to be effective is the question.

    2. That makes me wonder just how extensive the beach defenses are in Taiwan against a potential Chinese amphibious assault. I know most of the best beaches and ports on Taiwan are facing the mainland; I would just assume they would have beach defenses comparable to what the Germany's put up in the Atlantic Wall.

  8. "...we need to go a step further and utterly destroy China’s academic capability. We need to destroy every university, every think tank, every study group, every research facility, every school. We need to eliminate China’s ability to produce new engineers and scientists that can eventually design new military factories and new weapons. That’s how you prevent a repeat, future war."

    So we want to turn China into Afghanistan? This sounds like a recipe for a perpetual war to ensure that China can never challenge the West. I think you're conflating an end state in which China cannot challenge the West and one in which they will not challenge the West. The latter requires that the average Chinese citizen buys into our values, and that we adhere to them ourselves. War cannot achieve that in the long run.

    We and our allies need to have the capacity to whether as many conflicts as necessary until our values prevail. That means being able to 'win' a war with China, but it also means upholding those values and having a relationship with China within the bounds of those values. I think that means respecting the sovereignty and inalienable rights of the Chinese people, but it does NOT mean respecting the sovereignty of the CPC. For example, I would fully support an ongoing effort to cripple the CPC's censorship efforts.

    If all we're really talking about is ensuring that we maintain our economic and political advantages over China, this is a much different discussion.

    1. "I think you're conflating an end state in which China cannot challenge the West and one in which they will not challenge the West."

      I'm not completely sure I understand your point. Maybe try again?

      It sounds as if you're suggesting a 'hearts and minds' type of approach. Unfortunately, historically, that approach has never worked. It's been tried many times but there is no documented example of it ever working, as far as I know. That approach also ensures never ending conflict and the costs associated with containing that conflict - for example, NKorea, Iraq after Desert Storm, the Palestinian issue, etc.

      The model I prefer is WWII where Germany and Japan were utterly reduced and rebuilt. However, that requires occupation which is not feasible for China. Thus, the next best solution is to eliminate the military, military-industry, and academic capabilities.

      As far as that leading to China becoming an Afg, China is so far isolated from the US that I don't care what they become. They won't be a threat to us.

    2. This may be useful,

      Destroy the military and the military industrial complex. Go hard and ensure that there is nothing left.

      The academic is another thing entirely. People will still learn, and will still move forward in their understanding. If you bomb every school, they'll just do learning under trees until they can rebuild schools and go from there. Destroying the educational structures of a country can also be counter productive as it grows the hate in the entire populace towards those who did the destroying. They'll just bide their time, rebuild and go again.

      Destroy a countries capacity to conduct militarily relevant research or engineering prototyping, and you break the chain that leads to advanced weaponry, without destroying the entire educational endeavor.

      Note: This isn't hearts and minds, this is preventing advanced military development, whilst allowing the populace to be more than subsistence farmers.

    3. "People will still learn"

      They may learn their A,B,C's but you can't conduct advanced research without equipment and facilities to support the advanced learning. You're not going to study and learn about advanced radar engineering without facilities. You can't do that sitting under a tree.

  9. Lets not forget Kadena. Fields of Patriot batteries. Unfortunately
    not hardened because of hubris. Like the F-22's...

    1. The F-22s getting hit by Hurricane Michael were aircraft that were downchecked and undergoing maintennance; all flyable aircraft had already been flown away once it was clear a big hurricane was going to hit. The base prioritised evacuating personnel and dependants over aircraft. *shrug*

      Hardening an airbase is more than just stationing missile batteries there. Properly designed airfields require enormous, nonstop effort to suppress, not just a few cruise missiles. The airfields you find in countries like Taiwan which expect to be subject to heavy ballistic missile bombardment have redundant hardened and quickly repairable runways, HAS, fuel yards, C2 facilities and so forth. Typically, for every runway proper there are at least 3 other secondary surfaces that can be used as runways (i.e. the taxiways, roads, etc of the airbase are also straight and strong enough to serve as runways), and the main runways are long enough that they require multiple hits to knock out (or else the remaining undamaged section is still long enough). For every occupied HAS there are at least 3 other extra empty HAS, and the airplanes are put in them in an unpredictable manner during the short times they are on the ground, and only single aircraft HAS are used so each unlucky hit catches only one plane at a time. Decoy radars, fuel tanks, etc are also employed. There are berms all over the base so that a single hit only destroys at most one thing at a time, instead of fragments hitting multiple radars, fuel tanks or whatever. And everything is designed for rapid repair. The runway and taxiway surfaces are built specially to be repairable in hours instead of days with normal poured concrete, same with the various facilities.

      These are measures that can be taken to harden US airbases in Japan, Guam and Korea (and I'd be quite surprised if the USAF hasn't already put in this work).

      Also, the point of hard and softkill systems is not to completely defeat attacks on the airbase, but to exponentially increase the cost. Let's say your airbase has 10 aimpoints that must be successfully serviced to be knocked out. If even 1 of those aimpoints failed to be serviced, the airbase still functions. An airbase without any defense will likely have 20 warheads assigned to it, 2 to each aimpoint. But an airbase with defenses may require 3, 4 or more warheads assigned to each aimpoint to have a high overall P_kill. If each aimpoint is also hardened so that only heavy warheads in the 2000 lb or ballistic missile class can damage it, then the effort to attack the base becomes major and strategic. And truly hardened airbases require something like 30 or more aimpoints to be struck to be disabled, requiring 100+ heavy warheads for high P_kill, and they can repair enough aimpoints to bring the base back up in just hours. The base can quickly become a tarpit that soaks up the enemy's entire stock of heavy weapons.

      Unless China decides "screw this" and rather than use SAGs to fire cruise missiles to suppress Kadena, just opens up with nuke MRBMs, anyhow. It's pretty hard to use an airbase if it's irradiated.

    2. "everything is designed for rapid repair."

      You're failing to understand the true vulnerability of an air base. A base exists for one purpose - to launch aircraft. Each launch (sortie) requires a chain of events in order to occur. In no particular order and without claiming to be all-inclusive, the links in the chain are things like planning the mission, preparing the aircraft (maintenance and munitions loading), fueling the aircraft, resting the pilots, briefing the pilots, coordinating tankers and other support aircraft, and, finally, launching the aircraft. It's a sortie chain. If any link in the chain is broken the aircraft doesn't launch. Some of those links are hard to disrupt and others are easy. Every chain has a weak link. As a general statement, the weak link in a sortie chain is fuel. Fuel is easy to destroy, can't be repaired (meaning, spilled or burned fuel is irretrievably lost), and is easily prevented from replenishment.

      Consider Guam. If the fuel storage is destroyed that's it, the airbase quickly ceases to be operable. Further, being a small island thousands of miles from replenishment, a handful of subs or aircraft could easily cripple the replenishment effort.

      The major mistake the Japanese made at Pearl Harbor was their failure to destroy the fleets fuel oil storage (and drydocks). They foolishly went after the high-glory battleship sinkings. Had they destroyed the fuel tanks, the fleet would have been rendered immobile.

      An enemy can destroy all the runways, towers, hangars, etc. that they want but the smart enemy will hit the weak links in the sortie chain and fuel is, generally, the weakest link.

      Only two things need to be hardened: the fuel storage and the aircraft.

      You need to think operationally and logistically.

    3. I did mention redundant and decoy fuel tanks, y'know. And I'd argue that the big trio are fuel, aircraft, and runways; you cant launch aircraft if the runway's full of holes, if you don't have fuel, or if you don't have aircraft period.

      You're right that fuel is a big weak link, but fuel can be flown and trucked in. It's easier to truck in fuel from elsewhere vs repairing a cratered runway - tanker trucks are things. (I'm speaking, in the case, of Japan and SK bases.) Hardened fuel storage, redundant fuel storage, dispersed backup supply, these are things you can do.

      With Guam, you can do the same thongs to harden it, but with a greater emphasis on hardening, decoying and hiding your backup fuel supply (since obviously you only have what you have on the island). It's 2500 miles away from China: I don't think China is going to make the effort to try tominterdict resupply of Guam because that's pretty damn far away; their aircraft don't have the range to reach Guam, and any SAGs they send that way are ships that they're not using in their fight around their backyard. The US might in fact welcome PLAN interdoction attempts because that's virtual attrition of Chinese forces. If they're interdicting Guam, they're not fighting.

      But like I said, this assumes that China doesn't go to nukes to make the job of airbase suppression easier for them. It's kinda hard to use an airbase when it's been irradiated.

    4. That said I get the impression that the USAF hasn't been as serious aboutnhardening Anderson AFB compared to other bases, because at the distance it sits, pretty much the best way to hit it is with MRBMs, which more likely than not are going to be heard lding nuke warheads, so hardening may have seemed to be a bit notmworth the effort.

    5. "the big trio are fuel, aircraft, and runways"

      No, runways are not a weakness in the sortie chain because, as you pointed out, they're too easy to repair. Assuming a little dispersal and some hangar hardening, aircraft are only a semi-weak link. Fuel is the weak link without a doubt. The main point of this is, of course, Guam and as I pointed out, interdicting the replenishment of fuel to Guam is easy to do. The Chinese have learned the lesson of submarine warfare and a handful of subs can easily cut our fuel supplies to the island.

      "If they're interdicting Guam, they're not fighting."

      Isolating Guam only requires a handful of subs. Witness the WWII U-boat and US Navy sub experience and the more recent Falklands submarine experience. A handful of subs hardly detracts from the overall Chinese war effort and significantly reduces our options if Guam can be isolated. This is pretty elementary strategy.

      Fuel cannot be flown in to a base in sufficient quantities to sustain combat operations.

      Forget the damn nuke fears. China isn't going to use nukes unless they want to commit national suicide. They'd come out far, far worse in a nuclear exchange and they know it. This is just idiotic, baseless, fear mongering.

    6. Again, I reiterate that every sub and warship used to interdict Guam is a sub and warship that isn't involved in the fighting. Every little bit helps.

      I'm going to be a bit provocative and pose a question: Is Guam really necessary? Is losing Guam really such a blow? Its distance from China means that the only aircraft Guam can deploy that will be relevant in the fight are strategic bombers and strategic tankers, and bombers have intercontinental range - you don't *have* to base them from Guam. Get Singapore on your side, and Changi becomes a credible alternative staging point, since it has the necessary infrastructure in place to support American bombers and is outside MRBM range (DF-21). Singapore is still in IRBM (DF-25, DF-26) range of China , but that's the the same disadvantage Guam has. I argue that this is mitigated by how Singapore has multiple port facilities, and if the US gets Malaysia onboard, there are at least 5 Malaysian ports in the Strait of Malacca (Penang, Port Klang, Westport, Lumut, Melaka) where ships could dock to offload fuel to be trucked down to Singapore.

      (I've already talked before about using Changi and Sepanggar as alternative naval bases to Guam so I won't reinvent the wheel on that.)

      And while the ASEAN nations generally are militarily complacent and only Singapore really has their shit together, if China sends SSNs and SAGs south to interdict American supplies sailing into Changi, that just tilts ASEAN to act against China, which China doesn't want, because if ASEAN trades fighters and corvettes for China's destroyers, ASEAN still comes ahead and makes a costly phyrric victory for China; plus, adventures in Singapore would again be a distraction and a sideshow for the Chinese, if we assume the war is being fought around Taiwan/Chinese waters.

      "Forget the damn nuke fears. China isn't going to use nukes unless they want to commit national suicide. They'd come out far, far worse in a nuclear exchange and they know it. This is just idiotic, baseless, fear mongering."

      I'm not baselessly fear mongering, I have a basis for what I'm talking about here.

      When I talked about nukes being used on Guam and airbases in general, I was thinking of two perspectives: first, Guan was setup during the Cold War, when the assumption was that every airbase had a better than even chance of an ICBM or two being allocated towards it. Second, the choice of nuclear MRBM/IRBM vs conventional ASBM for suppressing an airbase ties into what I talked about earlier, how hardened airbases with redundancies can be tarpits soaking up the opponent's stock of heavy weapons.

      That's where the cost benefit analysis comes into play: keep allocating hundreds of of China's limited supply of ASBMs to continually suppress regional US airbases (complicating targeting is many US airbases and naval bases on the Japanese mainland are co-located/shared with the JSDF), or fire a dozen-odd IRBMs and irradiate said airbases which are now suppressed for the duration of the conflict?

      Viewed in that light, it makes some sense to use nukes for airbase suppression. On the other hand, there's also the politics of things: using nuclear weapons escalates the conflict to an existential level, and China's not France; my read on them is that they won't use nuclear weapons until/unless the war escalates to an existential threat. They're not France, in that regard. (France's nuclear posture can be summed up as "if you cross French borders, you're getting nuked.")


    7. In fairness I myself don't think China is going to open up with nukes, but I wanted to be bit more thorough for sake of the audience, and acknowledge the assumptions we're running with.

      It strikes me that this, potentially, can be a tarpit, a way of tying up Chinese ASBMs and naval assets. If the Chinese are firing DF-26s to suppress Anderson and hit ships parking in Guam's ports, if the Chinese put SAGs and SSNs in place to interdict shipping to Guam, this IMO allows a freer hand for the US to operate from Changi. Of course, this requires securing Singapore and Malaysia as allies against China.

    8. "every sub and warship used to interdict Guam is a sub and warship that isn't involved in the fighting."

      How much more involved can they be than fighting to deny the use of the major forward base for the US???? What better use is there for those assets? Wow.

    9. "How much more involved can they be than fighting to deny the use of the major forward base for the US???? What better use is there for those assets? Wow."

      Come on. You and I both know that I'm talking about fighting around the South China Sea and China's waters - the Taiwan Strait, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea. And if you don't send any resupply convoys to Guam, but the Chinese still keep their warships there in order to interdict the "threat" of resupply convoys, then they've committed virtual attrition upon themselves.

      You're pretty hung up on Guam, but as I've argued before, if the US can get Malaysia and Singapore onboard with the war against China, then it doesn't need Guam. Say the Chinese spam DF-26s against Anderson AFB and send an SAG or two to interdict the island. So, let them suppress the airbase, and deploy SSNs and keep warships there to interdict Guam. This means there's less DF-26s to shoot at Changi and Sepanggar, and less naval forces in the South China Sea and in Chinese waters. Guam in this scenario would be used akin to a force in being; your argument is that it's important enough for the Chinese to blockade, which means that even if you don't send resupply convoys to Guam, they're still going to stay there to interdict potential resupply ships and aircraft.

      Yes, China can of course recall the interdiction force*, but the distances involved mean that transit time is still going to be a matter of days at the fastest for them to reposition. And the Chinese commander is then going to have to juggle his options:
      -Does he pull back the interdiction force, and risk Guam being restored to combat-ready status, which defeats the whole point of keeping an interdiction force there?
      -Or does he keep the interdiction force in place, which risks those ships being tied down with interdicting a non-existent threat for the duration of the war?

      Consider how War Plan Orange made no provision for relieving the Phillipines (admittedly, this is something of an apples to oranges comparison). The Phillipines was considered expendable, and the US let the Japanese take the Phillipines, which, along with the island bases, had the effect of spreading and diluting the Japanese forces.

      *Spitballing it somewhat, but if China's got about 32~ destroyers and 55~ frigates. Assuming they adhere to 1:1:1 deployed/working up/refit model, combined deployed and surged ships means about 20~ destroyers and 35~ frigates**. Them keeping a 5-ship SAG around Guam to interdict convoys may not be much, but that's 5 less shooters and 40 less AShMs to worry about.

      **I think actual wartime strength, at least at the start of the war, is probably going to be less than 100%, but more than 85%. China will do its best to make sure it goes into war with as many ships possible. Still even if China has 100% fleet strength at the start of the war, my point still stands: keeping an interdiction force around Guam means those ships aren't available for fighting in the SCS or Chinese waters.

    10. Well, at least until those ships are recalled, anyhow. But like I said, that takes time.

    11. Anyhow to sum up the major assumptions in my thinking for the audience:

      - China has made the first move and the US is responding to China's moves.
      - China is *not* going nuclear off the bat.
      - China is going to attempt to suppress Anderson AFB on Guam with conventional DF-26s and send the smallest possible SAG that has a credible chance of interdicting resupply to Guam.
      - Because China is the clearcut aggressor in this case, the US is able to leverage that fact to get Malaysian and Singaporean support for naval and air force basing.
      - ASBM strikes and PLAN interdiction would degrade Guam's ability to serve as a forward base, particularly when resupply convoys are being interdicted. This is mitigating by instead basing in Singapore and Malaysia.

    12. "SAG ... interdicting resupply to Guam."

      That would be foolish. Submarines, and occasional aircraft, would be the interdiction force, not surface ships. Non-carrier surface groups can't operate without friendly air cover. Pretty basic operational considerations.

      "Malaysian and Singaporean support"

      There is zero reason to believe that would happen. Neither is going to risk the wrath of China simply to allow US basing. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make some effort toward that end but for planning purposes it's currently a zero chance.

      For better or worse (emphasis on worse) the US is committed to Japan and Guam as forward basing and Japan is somewhat questionable given that they could opt to remain neutral though I suspect not. As I said, I'm all for efforts to obtain other basing rights but there is currently no reasonable chance of success.

    13. Not that using subs to interdict convoys hasn't been done, but say they put 3 SSNs there, that's a quarter of their total SSN force tied down in one place waiting for convoys that aren't coming. *shrug*

      Malaysia and Singapore are pragmatic nations. In a war where China is the aggressor, where it looks like it's going to come after the ASEAN nations? Better than even chance of jumping on the US side in exchange for postwar concessions, recognition of Spratlys claims, all sorts of potential goodies - and the idea of self preservation.

      MY and SG support would be a lot more difficult ifmthe US is the aggressor (which ties in to my comment down there about the political benefits to taking themfirst punch).

    14. "3 SSNs there, that's a quarter of their total SSN force tied down in one place waiting for convoys that aren't coming. *shrug* "

      To completely isolate and invalidate an enemy's major forward base for the "loss" of three subs is a trade any commander would jump at in a heartbeat! What a cheap cost for a huge operational gain! Sorry, but you're just not grasping the military concept here.

      Those three "lost" subs also present a threat to US carrier and surface groups that happen along and provide intel and surveillance of their operational areas which, at the very least, tells China where we aren't.

      I'm sorry but you're not even remotely correct about this. Let it go.

    15. Malaysia and Singapore's support after a war starts is of little use. We can't establish a major base while being attacked in China's backyard. To be of any value, the bases would have to be established long before a war.

    16. "To completely isolate and invalidate an enemy's major forward base for the "loss" of three subs is a trade any commander would jump at in a heartbeat! What a cheap cost for a huge operational gain! Sorry, but you're just not grasping the military concept here.

      "Those three "lost" subs also present a threat to US carrier and surface groups that happen along and provide intel and surveillance of their operational areas which, at the very least, tells China where we aren't."

      Yes, or if you don't attempt to reinforce or resupply Guam, it ends up being a potential threat in being tying up 3 SSNs, reducing strength available in the immediate warzone. *shrug* I get what you're saying, but like what I keep saying throughout this blog, everything the US and China does can be made to work against themselves. And it's kinda hard to provide intel and surveillance of things that aren't coming.

      That said, I'll concede that having an interdiction force around Guam does complicate PACFLT reinforcements to SCS/China waters: they'd have to give Guam a wide berth to avoid tangling with any SSNs and SAGs there, which adds to transit time and further delays the CSG.

      "Malaysia and Singapore's support after a war starts is of little use. We can't establish a major base while being attacked in China's backyard. To be of any value, the bases would have to be established long before a war."

      While it's healthy to maintain a certain degree of skepticism with regard to Malaysia's military, Singapore's facilities are already quite well established. If you know what to look for, you can tell that Changi has been pretty hardened, because Singaporean wartime planning anticipated the Malaysian army would use artillery to suppress Changi and Paya Lebar (being as how singapore is small and next door to Malaysia, you can park artillery in Johor and shoot into Singapore without ever crossing the Causeway or doing an amphibious landing). The USN maintains a permanent logistical presence in Changi Naval Base, with berths designed for major repair and resupply work, with an actual USN logistics chain and supply presence in place. Meanwhile Sepanggar was built to be able to service USN CVNs - what it lacks is the USN logistics presence and supply chain that's in Changi.

  10. CNO,

    There is a Chinese military saying: you fight your war, and I'll fight mine. To stipulate a war under your condition, that is, China will shoot first, what does that entail in terms of PLA preparation to shoot first? I would think: to have a near-peer quality, 2x of quantity (not asset-to-asset race, but 2x of destructive power), utilize the two geographic advantages in westpac (distance & lack of forward base on the part of the US), and grab Taiwan to force the US' hand.

    That means, CNO, if China shoots first (by that I mean, as not throwing a hurried punch because of provocation, but when it's good and ready), it will not be under current circumstance of US/China mil.regressing/progressing, but a clear PLA military superiority under the circumstance I listed.

    You did not list another possibility of the (conventional) westpac war: China might win, an unfathomable result neither nation is prepared for.

    Then what?

    1. "what does that entail in terms of PLA preparation to shoot first?"

      That's a very good question whose answer depends on what the Chinese objectives are. For example, if their objective was to seize a small, disputed island then their superior force would only have to be locally superior (assuming the action wouldn't trigger an all-out war with the US). At the other end of the spectrum, if they want to invade mainland America then they would need massively more force than they currently have. More realistically, their objectives will fall somewhere in between. I have a post coming on this very topic, about what China's likely objectives would be.

      The main thing, though, is to know our own objectives. We can modify the means and resources depending on what we perceive as China's objectives but that doesn't change our own.

      "China might win"

      They might, however, for planning purposes, no one plans on losing. Our strategy is, obviously, based on winning. Our task is to procure the necessary equipment, personnel, and training to ensure that we win.

      There's an interesting difference between China and the US as regards strategic positions. China can win by 'losing'. I've discussed this before. China could quickly seize (fill in the blank) plus a little more and then immediately surrender with a magnanimous offer to negotiate. This would put the US in the no-win position of either continuing to fight in the face of (bogus) 'peace offers' or acquiesce to a long drawn out, non-productive negotiation process in which China will, after years of delay, possibly offer to return the little bit extra they seized. The end result is China will have achieved their goal and be ready to repeat the process. Winning by losing.

    2. " That's a very good question whose answer depends on what the Chinese objectives are."

      Let's talk about what China want (gotta start here, before we delve into strategy, tactic, expense..). I believe China wants,

      1. territorial integrity- meaning, Taiwan back into the fold of Chinese (as in historic, not necessary governmental) territory. It could be federation, transitional autonomy (like HK), sum as part of China, but not necessarily under Beijing (or you can google '92 Consensus', a deal negotiated between Taiwan and China.)

      2. Hegemonic influence in westpac, underwritten by its economy and military deterrence (unlike IJ's outright use of violence to achieve the same). See Belt&Road and AIIB.

      3. Global trade (same as the US practice before emergence of China).

      In all 3 cases, except for de-jure Taiwan independence, China is on its way to achieve them without a shooting war (even uncoupling of US-China economies will not result in war because China can still trade with ROTW minus the US.)

      However, if there is a war, then it'll utilize its natural advantage in westpac (A2AD and geographic), and not throwing them away (and bankrupt itself by building an entire different force structure to match&exceed the USN's 13 CBG based fleet) by sailing half-to-all-the-way across the Pacific.

      Sorry, CNO, I just don't see it.

    3. That you don't see it doesn't make it any less true. There were ample numbers of people who simply didn't want to see Hitler/Germany's intentions, either. Refusal to see reality doesn't change the reality.

      Do not turn this into a debate about China going to war. As I said in the post, for the purposes of this discussion, it's stipulated that war will occur and this is about planning for it.

    4. CNO,

      Your stipulation for 'China will war' does not have enough conditions. China will equip/fight differently depending if it's a 'Nazi-Germany/IJ', an 'active defense' to pre-empt a perceiving attack (like the Korean war), or a limited war like 'Taiwan grab'.

      Your take only covers the first one, that China is another'Hitler/Tojo'. Going by your logic, if we roll back to 1937 (in Asia) or 39 (in Europe), then we should of arm-up and strike first. If not that, then wait for PLAN blue water fleet to come half way beyond their A2AD zone and smash them and roll them back like ww2-pacific.

      Why wait for it to throw 1st punch (could be lethal knockout punch), or go into lion's den when 'Hitler/Tojo' will eventually leave their backyard to look for trouble?

    5. "Why wait for it to throw 1st punch "

      That is, of course, the purely logical thing to do. However, America attempts to maintain the higher moral ground and that precludes first strike unless China were to blatantly indicate that they were about to initiate a war. Giving the other guy the first shot to maintain moral superiority is kind of baked into our culture although we have stretched the boundary a few times.

      You're failing to grasp the point of the post. It really doesn't matter what China's intentions/objectives are. In a war, our victory conditions are the same. What might change is the operational plans - and that's why we should be wargaming the various scenarios.

    6. @Tim & @ComNavOps: Waiting to take the first punch also plays better in international politcs: you get to look like the aggrieved party who has a clearcut causus belli for war and retaliation.

      Consider War Plan Orange; the two key elements that USN planners identified for War Plan Orange to work were 1) a clear cut causus belli to go to war, and 2) time to build up the fleet so as to proceed across the Pacific in force. The concern was that the US would be forced to declare war on Japan and public support would be lacking ("Remember Dutch colonial holdings!" doesn't ring as well as "Remember Pearl Harbor!") and there would not be enough time to enact the buildup and the American public and political leadership would force the navy into attacking before it was ready. Pearl Harbor gave the USN both of the things it needed for War Plan Orange to work.

      Another example is looking at Singapore's defensive posture. For much of the Cold War, Singapore's wartime planning had the idea that the Singapore Armed Forces would punch north into the Malaysian state of Johor to fight there in order to keep war from hitting Singapore. Current Singapore thinking is now to work on harderning the northern portion of Singapore (Woodlands, Jurong) in order to absorb and repulse an invasion there, because it's pretty hard to get international opinion on your side and claim to be the defender and aggrieved party when you made a preemptive strike into your neighbour's territory, notwithstanding your claims of his incoming invasion. :V

    7. "War Plan Orange ... Singapore"

      Good comment.

    8. Tim:

      It seems to me that there are three objectives that will be the friction points.

      1) Taiwan--the Chinese are going to want this to happen much quicker than it will happen naturally. Hence they will be sorely tempted to force events, or to attack in a public display of their hegemony over the area (their debut as Hegemon, so to speak). Taiwan does not seem to me to be moving into China's orbit very quickly on its own, or even at all. I don't share your confidence that this gets resolved peacefully.

      2) Hegemony of the SCS. At some point they are going to want to prevent USN entry into what they consider their territorial waters. They may decide one day to ram/fire on a USN vessel.

      3) They want to reduce SK and Japan to "tributary" status. Neither of those countries will accept that, ever in my opinion, and so long as they retain alliances with the US, this would be causus belli.

    9. Wild Goose and Haz,

      I'm going to pose a question under conditions stipulated (or derivation of) by CNO (and not mine or yours according to what you or I understood/observed in current westpac geopolitical situation),

      CNO's conditions (and my derivation based on his, and not mine, conditions)
      1. China is 2nd coming of Hitler/IJ.
      2. CNO calls for annihilation of China's total wherewithal; a must end for an inevitable war.
      3. The US will not throw the first punch.
      4. China has enough nuke material to build another 1-2K warheads.

      Let me ask you this,
      1. If Hitler/Tojo has nuke bombs (and delivery vessel), do you think they will hesitate to use them to gain their expansion objective?

      2. The moment Hitler/Tojo senses the momentum of a conventional war has changed to their disfavor, do you think Hitler/Tojo will hesitate to use them?

      3. Do you think a desperate Hitler/Tojo will care if the US warns them- if you use them, I'll kill you and your people?

      My answer: yes, yes, and no.

      My last question: based on CNO's take, are we creating a self-fulfilling Armageddon?

    10. For my part I reject premise #1 in its entirety. China is aggressive and its objectives threaten US interests. That conflict has to be managed, and that may well, and indeed probably will involve some sort of war. But China does not aim at global domination, and is not ideologically genocidal/suicidal. Thus the Hitler/Tojo comparison ignores the actual strategic dilemmas that face us.

    11. Haz,

      Then let's step back from 'Hitler/Tojo' to 'USSR', with the stipulation of annihilation of China's wherewithal (a must end for an inevitable war).

      Do you see a self-fulfilling armageddon if the US acts on such stipulation?

    12. "Do you see a self-fulfilling armageddon if the US acts on such stipulation?"

      Perhaps you should turn the self-fulfilling question around? If China knowingly initiates a global war shouldn't it expect a degree of annihilation if it loses? Wouldn't the self-fulfilling issue have been triggered by and brought about by China?

      If I decide to rob a bank is it the police's fault if they shoot me or is it mine?

      You seem to be bending over backward to excuse China in this scenario.

    13. CNO,

      For argument sake, let's say-China is 2nd coming of USSR (mixture of ideological, territorial and hegemonic ambition) with 2k+ deliverable nukes, do you think your stipulation of comprehensive annihilation will invite MAD?

      Or, let me rephrase: China threw first punch, the US retaliated and managed to get on the upper hand, and China says: if you attempt as you stipulated, I will launch. What will you do next?

      CNO, you spent your whole naval career basically grappling with the same strategic dilemma of 'what ifs' with the bear. The specter of thousands of nukes will make all of us (sane ones) 'flexible'.

    14. Tim:

      What I see the US possibly achieving, if its prepares adequately, is an assymtry where Chinese military and industrial power and access to the resources on which their economy depends is vulnerable to US attack from the first and second island chains in a way in which the US mainland is not similarly vulnerable. That is a strategic situation in which the US can credibly lean on them to curb their ambitions within parameters we can live with. In the end we will either learn to live with each other as the major powers in the region, or we will destroy each other. I don't think our policy of trying to engage them is wrong, I simply think we haven't established the military preparation, similar to what we established in Europe, that is necessary to enforce our red lines.

      All out war is not inevitable. Some military testing of the red lines is. That was the part Obama couldn't get his head around. Absent a catestrophic war, China won't collapse the way the USSR did. It may however evolve over time into a less aggressive posture.

    15. I really don't understand this obsession with nukes. Were nukes used in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan (Soviet Union and USA), etc,etc...right now, in Syria, we pretty much are having a confrontation between US and Russian forces, didn't we shoot down a Sukhoi? How about the supposedly 200 Russian "mercenaries" that US forces/allies killed? So far, nobody has escalated, according to some, we should already have exchanged nukes by now.....

      Why is it so hard to see China going for Taiwan or some other objectives, take on US forces, use only conventional weapons, just like in CNO scenario, have the first strike/surprise and not have the whole thing end up in a nuclear exchange?

      As I said in my previous comments, it's far more likely THE USA WOULD RESORT TO NUKES than China, we would be the losing side! Really, when you think about it, that's CHINA's problem to worry about our nukes because if they kick our asses too bad, that could be our only option!!! China should be worried and wonder how they should let us save face and NOT to engage with nukes!

    16. "China says: if you attempt as you stipulated, I will launch. What will you do next?"

      The answer seems obvious. I'd cower in a hole, sobbing in fear, and try to surrender my entire military force and offer to become a tributary state of China. If China has a nuclear weapon and threatens to use it, I really don't see any other choice but to totally collapse.

      Well, I guess there's one other choice and that is to find out ahead of time where their nuclear weapons and launchers are (you can't really hide that kind of stuff) and be prepared to destroy them at any time.

      Really though, I think the first option would be the only sane one, right?

    17. "the US can credibly lean on them to curb their ambitions"

      That can only work if we're prepared to confront them militarily. Otherwise, all of our threats are easily seen as empty wind. To be fair, you sort of suggest that further in your comment.

    18. "Really, when you think about it, that's CHINA's problem to worry about our nukes because if they kick our asses too bad, that could be our only option!!! China should be worried and wonder how they should let us save face and NOT to engage with nukes!"

      Well said.

    19. Look at the murderers of murderous regimes, we strung up Saddam, holed Qaddafi, and back slapped Kim3. A paltry dirty dozen can make us to that.

      Anyway, fellas, this is only my thinking exercise strictly following CNO's stipulation of,

      "..So, where does that leave us?
      There is one, and only one, other logical end result and it happens to result in an actual victory with actual long term improvement in the world condition.
      Military and Academic Annihilation..."

      Thank you for all your serious responses.

    20. "China says: if you attempt as you stipulated, I will launch. What will you do next?"

      Suppose tomorrow China says give us your entire country or I will launch my nukes. If they (and you) think we're so terrified of nuclear threats that we'd capitulate in a war, what's to stop them from issuing the same threat outside of a war? Right now?

    21. I will tell them: I believe you love your life more than your earthly goals and haves. Therefore, if you nuke me, I will nuke you back. The bottom line: you'll be dead too, and you won't want that.

      You see, Commie Chinese don't even believe in Jesus & better place. All they got is here and now, they are not about to throw it away for some earthly stuff.

    22. Then we have nothing to fear from Chinese nuclear threats! Good to know and your nuclear fear mongering is pointless. Thanks for clarifying that.

  11. Wild Goose. Where might I go to read about your tarpit scenario. That's a new concept for me. TIA

  12. We need to help settle territorial disputes between our allies. Then when war starts we can take out lying islands in south China Sea and have allies garrison them. We want as many people on our side as possible. If they don't want to help, well than May be those islands were Chinese and we might just have to hang onto them.

  13. Job one is to harden and multiply our bases in the Marianas. Regardless of China's military objectives, these are going to be critical staging bases for striking back. They also are not as vulnerable as has been made out. The Chinese have a few dozen DF-26s, not hundreds, and that is the only ballistic missile that can hit Guam. Hardening and active defenses are going to have to absorb dozens of hits, but not hundreds. After the DF-26s have shot their bolt, the only threat is from cruise missiles. These are subsonic and must be fired from aircraft. Assuming we have any open airfields after the DF-26s strike, we should be able to keep the bases open against cruise missile attack indefinitely. We will take some loses, but none should be crippling.

    The Marianas then become bases for strikes against Chinese industry. Here I would not limit strikes to strictly military targets. The objective is to so disrupt/reduce their economy that it becomes impossible to support their population.

    As for out objectives, we either have to settle for the generational haircut strategy that the Israelis have employed against the Palestinians, or we have to so reduce their population that the Peoples Republic collapses. China's population load is such that they are vulnerable to this strategy. It will involve significantly reducing their capacity to produce and distribute food.

    The destruction of academic capacity is simply unrealistic short of occupation, and probably not even then. Their knowledge base isn't the problem. Their political structure and their integrity as a nation state of such a huge magnitude is.

    1. "Their knowledge base isn't the problem."

      Gotta disagree with you on this. We educated the generation of engineers and scientists that are producing China's weapons today. We need to eliminate the ability for China to educate and train its next generation of engineers and scientists so there won't be a next generation of weapons development.

    2. I know we did. My High School Physics teacher was one of the educators that went over to China to rebuild their universities after the cultural revolution. But the cat is out of the bag. Without military control of the population, as in occupation, you cannot accomplish this. You can destroy infrastructure from afar, but you can't destroy the knowledge base.

    3. "You can destroy infrastructure from afar, but you can't destroy the knowledge base."

      Of course you can't achieve a 100% elimination of all academic knowledge but you can destroy every university, research facility, think tank, etc. That may leave isolated individuals with knowledge but they won't be able to do anything productive with it.

    4. We could develop an algorithm, by hacking bank records, medical histories, emails, phone calls, university scores, to find the the location of isolated individuals with knowledge.

      We could feed the resulting target list into our strike platforms for mass, simultaneous elimination.

    5. Realistically you would need to eliminate the Party.

      Destroying the academic base of country seems to me an extremely unrealistic, nebulous goal.

      I mean, you can blow up the buildings, but they'll just build new ones, hardened, underground.

      You can't realistically target millions of individual academics in a population of 1.3 billion people.

      The goal would be toppling the regime that took China to war.

      Remember, the Chinese people like in an autocracy. The people are going to continue to exist after any war - but the Communist Party doesn't have to. The goal should be the same as the goal in World War 2 (if it came to that) - defeat them militarily and economically, then force a surrender and the removal of the autocratic regime. It worked for Japan and Germany in WW2 (both of whom were much more brutal, autocratic, militant regimes than the PRC).

  14. "War with China appears to be inevitable."
    So it was with the Soviet Union.
    The Chinese will only start if they think they can win an atomic exchange, they would be insane to think that with the atomic might of the USA.

    1. As I stated, for planning purposes we're stipulating that a war will occur. We're not going to debate the likelihood of war. Consider this the modern War Plan Orange. It doesn't matter whether we think war is inevitable or not, we still need to plan for it.

  15. "More importantly, China simply cannot allow an enemy base to exist in its front yard during a war. Strategically and operationally, Taiwan must be eliminated as a threat."

    For the very same reason, the Philippines would be high on China's list of potential conquests too. Providing they don't already have a base there when the hostilities start.

    1. Quite right. I've got a post coming that addresses this.

    2. Good. I look forward to reading that.

    3. Figure the Philippines will be a Chinese client state by then. The Sri Lanka 99 year lease port deal is the Chinese new model imperialism trial run.
      CNO wondered what all that PLAN amphib capability was for, debt collection.

      S. Butler.

  16. If there is one thing I really disagree with, is this notion China will go nuclear first or will end up using nukes. That really doesn't make sense, especially in the scenario outlined by CNO!!!

    I think it is safe to assume that this scenario isn't going to happen tomorrow but could it happen in the 5 to 10 years? if China strikes first (CNO scenario), they have more than likely achieved strategic and tactical advantages over the USA, they would use enough CONVENTIONAL MRBMs and cruise missiles, maybe some hypersonics, probably also their new "stealth" bomber coming up,J20s and SSNs to overwhelm US forces in the region, not necessarily that hard really; we only have a limited number of bases to operate from: Guam, Okinawa, Misawa,Yokusuka, Chinahae as naval bases plus a couple of USAF/ARMY bases in SK/Japan. I guess you could add Hawaii and Eielson AFB in Alaska. Probably a few more minor ones but you get the picture. As Hurricane Micheal just showed, American bases are seriously under protected, how many of our regional bases are hardened? Ready for war now, not months or years of prep??? Who says that we won't LOSE a few more bases in the region in the next 10 years? I could see very easily USA leaving SK or Japan under Trump or a even more isolationist POTUS. So in 10 years from now, should we even count that we will have a big presence left in SK or Japan?!?! Even if we still are left in SK or Japan, China is working both countries hard in influence, should we assume that SK/Japan will let the USA use their bases in a war with China? If we can't use their bases or they ask us one day to leave, China wins without even firing a shot. IF we lose SK/Japan, there goes more bases, meaning we will have MORE ASSETS in FEWER BASES = more vulnerability!!!

    An overwhelming,surprise strike would take out a really big portion of our naval and air assets without using any nukes. Contrary of popular opinion, future POTUS WOULD BE THE ONE LOOKING AT NUKES, he/she will be given a picture of 7 to 10 US bases wiped out of aircraft, sunken ships in harbor, radars down, maybe a few runways out,etc...POTUS only options: escalate with nukes or ask for terms really.

    What really is sobering, even if you think China doesn't want war, US position really isn't great, probably will only get WEAKER as years go by. China isn't afraid of the LCS, probably knows everything about the F35, bases are well known and easy to target, very vulnerable since few are hardened. Our military leadership is only mentally prepared to fight a couple of goat herders with AKs, forget about peers. Congress has completely abdicated and who in DC will advocate for more bases, more hardening, more preparedness?

    As far as I can tell, US military doesn't have anything like a War Plan Orange for China, actually, they have a hard time even SAYING China is a threat! So THAT REALLY SHOWS THE EXTENT of the problem!

    1. Good comment and you're right, there is a faction of people who are so timid that they see nuclear bogeymen everywhere. China has nothing to gain from nuclear war and would come out on the very losing end.

      China is only going to get stronger which is why we should be pushing back hard, right now, to contain them while they're still weak. If we have to have a war we should do it now while we still have the advantage.

    2. I don't see SK and Japan siding with China over the US. There are too many historical animosities to allow that.

    3. Maybe not siding with China but staying on the sidelines? China would take day any day of the week....

    4. If China perceives the U.S. buildup as CNO suggested (calling for destruction of its total wherewithal as end goal), it will change its nuke posture from guaranteed-2nd-launch to guaranteed-MAD, and start cranking out missiles and warheads like former USSR (or Russia today). Do we really want to revisit the specter of additional thousands of nukes aiming our way, again?

    5. "Do we really want to revisit the specter of additional thousands of nukes aiming our way, again?"

      We're already there! Estimates for China's nuclear weapons range from 50 - 400 with stockpiles of plutonium and uranium sufficient for 1000 - 2000 weapons. You're way behind the threat!

    6. Nuke material and 'missile/warheads' are not the same. Japan also stockpiled tons of nuke material. If they are converted to 'missile/warhead', it is going to change drastically how China (and the U.S.) reorient their diplomatic (and defense) postures toward Japan.
      Same with China if it starts cranking out 'missile and warheads', BMD will be the only viable game to pursue at the expense of the rest.

  17. If the US gets kicked out of both South Korea and Japan, then there is no need for a war. China will have established hegemony over East Asia and the US will have nothing left in the region to fight for.

  18. The major strategic question in a war with China is whether we can effective operate from the first Island chain. That is, can we keep our bases in Japan, and any others we might establish in the first Island chain, operational, or are any forces we base that close going to be casualties on day one. If we cannot find a way to defend the bases effectively, we should withdraw naval and most air forces.

    A second question is whether we are going to have land based strike assets that can hit China from the first Island chain. Essentially, this boils down to whether we stay in the INF treaty with Russia. If we were to withdraw from the treaty (which Russia is blatantly violating), we could station cruise and ballistic missiles in the first Island chain. They are much easier to hide than aircraft, and we could hold the Chinese hostage in the same way they have sought to hold Taiwan hostage. That strikes me as the biggest way to change the ballance in the region in our favor quickly. So long as the systems are strictly conventional, I doubt the Japanese would object to stationing them in Southern Japan and the Ryukyu Islands, which are perfect for hiding them, stashing them in caves, etc. If they want to hit Yokohama, no problem, we'll be happy to take out their naval bases at Dinghai and Qingdao. This reduces their incentives to strike first pretty radically.

    1. Excellent comment. You are quite right about the INF. We should terminate the treaty (Russian already has so the issue is probably moot) and develop our own SRBM/MRBM.

    2. To Haz, in CNO scenario, with China striking first, if they take out most of our forward assets, with what are we going to strike back with and how are we going to take out Dinghai and Qingdao? Maybe a couple of our SSNs survive the first strike and respond with a few sea launched cruise missiles BUT I doubt we will have the same effect as China will have in striking the idea of some prepositioned CM and some kind of conventional Pershing 2 could work but we need them now in Japan, SK and other locations. And they would have to be conventional and even then, it would face some opposition.

      I think we need some kind of new conventional MRBM for sure.

    3. The INF Treaty limits the range of land-based missiles only. Sea-based missiles are fair game.

    4. "Sea-based missiles are fair game."

      Quite right. I had thought, at one point, that the larger Mk57 Peripheral VLS cells on the Zumwalt were destined for SRBM/MRBM missiles but that does not appear to be the case - which leaves me wondering what they were intended for.

    5. NICO:

      Yes, I am talking about deploying conventional Pershings and Cruise Missiles to the first Island chain now, not waiting for a crisis. Perhaps the best approach to Japan is to sell them, help them develop their own simmilar weapons. If between the two of us there are 500-1000 such weapons stashed in secret locations around the archepeligo, the Chinese face some fearsome consequences for striking first. Launch an all out attack on Kadena and Iwakuni, and prepare to lose 200 of your finest industrial plants, bridges, oil storage facilities, not to mention air and naval Bases. Oh, and we're going to be sending another 500 to Japan tonight by airlift, so look forward to tomorrow.

      China does not expect this to be a war of attrition on that scale, and the political consequences of such a war, particularly one started by the communist party, are something they would have to think through very carefully.

  19. In any war with China, we have to decide how much we want to extend it. By that I mean that the United States has traditionally moved in major wars toward a war on almost any domain possible. It is only in limited wars that we have tended to seriously limit our strategic options such as in Korean or Vietnam. What scope of war do we pursue against an aggressive China? If they are invading Taiwan, do we try to sink their whole fleet every where we find it? Do we go for a large scale offensive open blockade? Do we take out the South China Sea artificial isle?

    I think we will tend to expand the war if China hits us first. If they launch an invasion of Taiwan and then just try to counter American naval forces from getting into the area, we might not expand. But if they go for a preemptive strike on say Guam, Okinawa, and American bases in Japan, then I think we'll expand the confrontation.

    Then if we strategically expand, we are going to need to roll up their entire power projection capacity in aerial, missilery, and naval. We are going to need the numbers in aircraft and hulls, even if those are furnished by an attrition strategy through robotic units.

  20. China will only provoke a war when it knows it can win. The US has to take the strategic initiative first if it plans to win.The US needs to confront China over the South China Sea.The battle does not have to take place in the South China Sea however.

    I would dominate China's access to 90% of its oil which comes out of the Gulf. Oil is the secret to winning. Dominating the Malaysian and Indonesian area is key to dominating the Oil supply routes. It puts pressure on China to project force at a distance which it does not have the capability to do. US carrier battle groups parked in the western approaches to the straits of Malacca could easily achieve this aim.An economic catastrophe at home is a much greater risk to China than a pitched battle in the Taiwan strait which the US cannot win.

    In world war two, Japans reliance on oil and its inability to keep its fleet oiled was the major reason they lost the battle in the Pacific. The same applies with China.

    1. "I would dominate China's access to 90% of its oil which comes out of the Gulf."

      You lost me slightly. Are you suggesting trying to restrict China's oil imports during peacetime or just during war? If you just mean during war, the best and easiest place to restrict the imports is at the tanker loading points in the Middle East, not at sea in the straits.

      You're aware that China has some overland oil pipelines that run through Russia and is working to establish more. They see their vulnerability and are working to mitigate it. Whether they can become independent of the need for sea-going oil is a question I can't answer.

    2. China is well aware of how the Strait of Malacca is a weak link for their all merchant shipping, not just oil, which is why China was making so many ovetures to Malaysia to try and turn Malaysia into a client state, the way Laos and Myanmar are in China's pocket (although the May 9 election and the new government has seen a pronounced cooling in Malaysia's reception of Chinese money and influence).

      From time to time China makes ovetures to Thailand about digging a canal through the Kra Isthmus; they're selling the idea to Thailand that the port facilities and canal lock fees would allow Thailand a chance to earn extra money because people get to trade a 1200 kilometer journey for a mere 44 kilometers through the proposed Kra Canal. More importantly, from the Chinese perspective, a Kra Canal allows their merchant shipping and warships to completely bypass the shooting gallery that is Strait of Malacca. The Thais have been somewhat lukewarm to the idea, because they'd still have to foot most of the bill do dig said canal, and it's uncertain how much it would actually be used.

      This suggests to me that for now, China doesn't think they're at the stage where they're independent of the need for seagoing oil. This is also partly why China is so seriously pursuing its claims to the Spratlys; it's not just about projecting power in the South China Sea, if China can secure the oil deposits in the Spratlys, it brings them closer to strategic energy independence. .

    3. To me this is the crux of any potential war with China.
      As pointed out, any war between China and the US would not involve the invasion of either country by the other, simply because it would beyond the resources of any country to conquer the other.

      So a war would become attritional, primarily naval and air focused.

      In such a war, the factor of seaborne trade would become crucial.

      And herein lies the rub - China is actually massively vulnerable to a naval blockade.

      China is massively dependent on seaborne trade.
      Most of their energy needs (in the form of oil, gas coal etc), dry bulk commodities, containerised shipments and other cargoes, all go through the South China Sea.

      To understand their dependence, think about this:
      40% of all their trade transits through the South China Sea, representing $1.47 trillion US dollars and a large proportion of their GDP. To put it perspective, 21.5% of all seaborne trade in 2017 was imported goods to China.

      In addition, while they can source some petroleum products and natural gas from Russia, their single largest import item via seaborne trade is actually iron ore. It represents 2/5ths of all trade to China, and cannot be sourced in anything like the requisite quantities through overland routes.

      in terms of a war scenario, if the US shut down the export of iron ore (much of which comes from US allies like Australia or Canada) to China, it would have a devastating effect on Chinese manufacturing, industry and economy.

      In terms of energy, and as you point out, China has done a lot in recent years to try and mitigate their still large dependence on seaborne trade.
      However the effects on fuel imports have been mixed. China has been moving steadily towards cleaner energy sources in recent years, attempting to reduce reliance on coal-burning, with negative implications for imports. While coal remains the largest energy provider, the alternatives of natural gas, together with renewable wind and solar power are now promoted heavily, and hydro-power and nuclear power also are favoured. Intensifying pressure to reduce excessively severe air pollution in cities and towns justified these policy aims.

      Having said that, 90% of seaborne fuel imports are crude oil - not something that can be replaced by Russian gas pipelines, without a massive, expensive shift in the way in which China generates power and fuels it's economy. This shift has begun but is decades away from completion.

      To summarize, China is still completely dependent on seaborne trade to fuel it's manufacturing and economic base.
      The majority of electricity generation is still coal based (and reliant heavily on imports). China is still hugely dependent on crude oil imports as well.
      And most of all, China is completely dependent on trade to supply virtually all her iron ore.

      In other words, a naval blockade (which would be eminently achievable from the perspective of the US), would make it very, very difficult for China to prosecute a war of attrition for for then a short period of time.

    4. You don't even need a naval blockade. The bulk of China's seaborne oil passes through the Strait of Malacca, and all ships passing through need to register with MSTF in Singapore, so the Singaporeans know which ships are carrying China's merchant shipping. They can share that information with the Malaysians and Indonesians, and between those three countries they can pretty much lock down Chinese shipping from leaving the Strait of Malacca. MY, SG and IN are simultaneously friends, rivals, competitors and enemies, but Fuck China is one sentiment that can unite them all (especially if in this scenario China is the aggressor and looks like it's going to be casting its eye on SEA next).

    5. Well, to be fair, what you're describing is still a blockade.

      And it's not just the Malacca strait - Lombok and Sunda would have to be shut down as well. And then, theoretically, Chinese bound shipping could take the long detour south, through the roaring forties, south of Australia, through the Tasman Sea (or even further our, past the eastern coast of New Zealand), up the central pacific, then swing a left north of the Philippines and head for China.

      Realistically though, how successful would any attempt to continue to supply the enormous quantities of goods China requires to feed it's people, power it's economy and build it's military really be in the event of a full scale war with the US?

      As CNO points out, the US wouldn't really even need to shut down all the straits and patrol the southern ocean looking for individual container ships bound for China (though no doubt such limited patrols would take place, if not by US ships, then by the navies and air forces of Australia, NZ and any other allies that would get dragged into such a war, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia potentially).
      The US Navy could cut off the bulk of trade at source. A blockade of Middle Eastern and African ports for Chinese bound goods, combined with the cooperation of her allies and friends (e.g. China is heavily reliant on Australian coal and iron ore among other things) - this would be enough to shut down the Chinese economy over a sufficient time scale.

    6. @Jon: Fair point; when I think of blockade my mental image is of ships camping the enemy port. :p

    7. In a sea blockade scenario, that means,

      1. The USN will be at a standoff distance, somewhere between 1st & 2nd island chain, that means Taiwan and ROK will be militarily isolated from any help.

      2. Unlike China which can still pump about 1M bpd (about the amount the U.S. pumped in 1944 while fighting a full blown 2 front war) with add on overland gas/oil from Russia and Central Asia; Japan, ROK, Taiwan will get zero because of blockade/counter blockade.

      3. About food and raw material supply, China is the size of lower-48, with strategic depth of Russia (which most likely with help China, cuz if China falls, they will be next) as resource provider. China will slim down, but it can go on for a long time.

      4. Russia will also get behind China militarily, again, not because of affinity towards China, but it wants a viable China to counter balance the U.S. Therefore, this standoff war can last for a long time, especially since everyone has kill-all nuke piles to prevent drastic escalation.

      5. China only wars on Taiwan. One month in, Taiwan will be gone. A year in, if not earlier, ROK will negotiate for neutrality in exchange for an open lifeline. Japan is next if China offers the same term.

      6. The bloody ww2 against smaller Germany/IJ lasted 4 years to conclude. In comparison, this rather bloodless blockade war against an EuroAsia continent sized 'China+Russia' (especially if the U.S. refrains from attacking Russia) can go on for decades to forever (heck, we are still in Afgh/Iraq after decades, with complete military superiority).

      100-years war, anyone?

    8. "a naval blockade (which would be eminently achievable from the perspective of the US), would make it very, very difficult for China to prosecute a war of attrition for for then a short period of time."

      You've offered up a nice summary of the state of energy in China. Now, what are the implications as it relates to China's military capabilities and objectives? China has more than enough resources to launch a rapid takeover of Taiwan or surrounding territories which still leaves all the post questions unanswered: US force dispositions, reactions, victory conditions, Guam, etc. How does your assessment of China's energy situation impact any of those questions?

      You've provided the background, now provide the answers.

    9. "all ships passing through need to register with MSTF in Singapore"

      You really think that in a war Chinese shipping will obligingly register with potential enemy countries? LOL!

      The easier "blockade" is to prevent the loading of Chinese tankers at the origin points (Mid East or wherever). At sea blockades are hard. Prevention of loading is easy.

    10. "everyone has kill-all nuke piles to prevent drastic escalation."

      You just argued (correctly) against your own nuclear fears!

    11. CNO,
      Ok, let's look at where are we now (in this China war scenario, expanded on including all comments and your original thought)

      1. Sea blockade most likely: civilian seaborn traffic stops in the Pacific
      2. No nuke escalation
      3. No drastic conventional war escalation either, because at standoff distance, the U.S. can't wage meaningful war not closer than Guam or Hawaii. Even lobbing missiles (say, 1000-2000 worth of 2000-lb conventional warhead pre-stored in the first island chain at densely industrialized, lower-48 sized target..well, think about the bomb tonnage we threw at smaller Germany/IJ) will be throwing rocks at the pond, or we attrite Virginias ragged doing the missile shuttle runs.
      4. China & Russia are pushed together, an EuroAsia sized economic/military entity (food, raw material, overland trade, etc)
      5. Taiwan will be gone sooner than later.
      6. In the beginning, friend & foe camps are clearly delineated. A year in, if China constraints itself militarily while the U.S. still stays at standoff distance, WESTPAC nations will start to worry about making a living. And since all of them have China as their biggest foreign trade partner before the war, most likely they will revert back to that, especially if china throws them the olive branch.
      7. Few more years (to decades) in, few on the westpac side will still want to fight, most will resume some kind of relationship with China, the U.S. is still at arm length distance...what are we seeing folks? An emerging de facto Chinese hegemony in the WESTPAC by different route.

    12. That would be the least productive and least effective means of conducting such a war.

      The effective course of action is not stand-off which, as you note, accomplishes nothing. The effective course is an aggressive, never-ending rollback of Chinese forces which allows ever-closer range precision attacks on military, military-industrial, and academic sites.

      The tonnage of bombs we threw at Germany/Jap had more to do with lack of accuracy than any inherent need to use that amount of tonnage. We can accomplish the same with much less tonnage today given both computer aided aiming for non-guided munitions and precision guidance for guided munitions.

      As the rollback continues we can establish a few closer bases and, hopefully, make use of Japanese base options. If Russia and China will be pushed together then one can reasonably infer that Japan, SKorea, and the US will be pushed together by common cause.

      Any Russian assistance to China will be limited, covert, and counter-balanced by European assistance to the US. Russia's involvement will be limited by the threat of being drawn into a European war. As soon as it becomes obvious that China will not prevail, Russia will back out.

      Your views and analysis are incredibly one-sided.

    13. Tim, why don't you address the premise of the post? If you don't like mine, what victory condition do you espouse? From that will flow all the other aspects.

    14. "You really think that in a war Chinese shipping will obligingly register with potential enemy countries? LOL!"

      Here's the thing: if their shipping follows standard rules and registers with MSTF, you can track them. Otherwise, if they don't register with MSTF, you now have merchant shipping that didn't register with the relevant authorities that's seeking to evade detection. You can use that suspicious behaviour as a way of filtering out Chinese shipping from other nations shipping (as opposed to boarding every single ship in the Strait to have a chat with the captain). ;D

    15. "You can use that suspicious behaviour as a way of filtering out Chinese shipping from other nations shipping "

      In a global, all-out war you really think other country's shipping is going to nonchalantly sail through one of the main focal points of unrestricted warfare? Those areas will be nearly empty of any shipping that isn't Chinese and trying to make a run for it. Commercial shipping is going to avoid the area like the plague. C'mon, start thinking this stuff through.

    16. Ok, let's start with a scenario,

      1. (in year 2025, the war starts) the US managed not to lose any CBG at onset of hostility and safely pulled everything back to Hawaii or further. Other than Taiwan grab, China (to prevent Japan and Korea getting into it) refrained from attacking their territory other than airbases in Okinawa- if and only if they were used to prevent Taiwan grab.

      2. Prior to war, China's mil.expenditure, since they make all their arms therefore its expenditure should be valued at purchase power parity (e.g. their $1B Type-055 vs. our $1.5-2B Burke), is at least 8-10X (or $500B/50B) of Japan's expenditure (or 5X of combined Japan/Rok expenditure) for a decade+. That means, with the US stayed back, China likely will have military superiority in all battle spaces within the A2AD zone.

      So, how do we roll it back (or take the lay of the land/sea)?

      1. We can probably 'creep back' on the Philippines islands and get closer. Pinoys have no choice in that matter.

      2. We still have base in Afghanistan, so China still has to watch its back (fellas, that's why we are not leaving Afgh anytime soon.) Though China/Russia can swat it easily.

      3. India, if they can be swayed, can allow US presence, so China has to watch its southern flank (though, China can urge Pakis to counter Indian threat)

      4. Indo-China peninsula as whole is probably willing but not able to reject China's 'stick and carrot' offer.

      5. ROK will ask for neutrality because of its physical isolation and 'stick & carrot' of combined 'China+NK'.

      6. Japan, if you look from its POV, it's facing a geopolitical hostility of 'China+Russia' from north to south if it takes the US side in a war. However, if it stays passive-to-neutral, it still has northern sea route open to north America for oil & sustenance without Chinese disturbance. So, Japan is iffy, not totally in, nor totally out.

      7. Russia, well, today it's actually attacking our democratic system even when Trump is bending backwards to flatter Putin. It will never relent on the US.

      8. Australia or NATO, they are too far to play significant role in the rollback while PLA is still in the play.

      CNO, do you kinda agree with what I see, before I go on?
      ( I'm just not convinced China will make itself out to be a clear cut stupid bad actor, like Hitler & Tojo. Think about it: if Hitler was Bismarck, or Tojo today's Xi. We all be speaking English, German, and Japanese as international language today.)

    17. Tim, you clearly and desperately want to concoct scenarios in which China is either outright friendly and misunderstood or, at worst, just seizing territory that it "owns" (Taiwan) or needs to protect itself from US aggression. That being the case,

      1. You're welcome to your opinion. I can offer reality but I can't make you accept it and your contrary view serves, actually, to illustrate the evil of China and the lengths that some will go to to excuse them so your views are useful to me.

      2. For the purposes of this post and discussion, the scenario was laid out - China initiates a global war. Creating alternate scenarios is not furthering that discussion. There are an infinite number of possible scenarios and you can concoct a scenario to support any position. Within limits, you're welcome to go on with your own scenario but I'm going to halt my involvement as I have other posts to work on and I have no interest in engaging in endless scenario debates (unless it's one I propose, of course!).

      "I'm just not convinced China will make itself out to be a clear cut stupid bad actor,"

      Why don't you take a few moments and list the illegal acts that China has performed recently (hint: there's dozens and those are just the major ones). Now what can any reasonable person possibly conclude from that list?

      If I've committed dozens of crimes, doesn't that make me a criminal?

    18. If China initiate a global war, to save America from grieving moms, weeping wives, uncertain geopolitical support, and given current inadequate state of US-mil, the POTUS should take a gamble on using tactical nukes to knock out Chinese nuke missile sites and major mil.nodes (prior to that, need to work on 99% BMD though), thus to minimize our loss, and conclude it as fast as we can.

      There, the criminal is dead.

    19. a global, all-out war you really think other country's shipping is going to nonchalantly sail through one of the main focal points of unrestricted warfare? Those areas will be nearly empty of any shipping that isn't Chinese and trying to make a run for it. Commercial shipping is going to avoid the area like the plague. C'mon, start thinking this stuff through."

      It's either that or the world economy grinds to a slowdown (which, to be fair, is going to happen anyway as a result of a war with China).

      That said, I'm not saying that the Malaysians and Singaporean would be sinking ships; it's more likely they'd intercept said ships and have them proceed to a holding area to be interned for the duration of the war.

      There is also a certain delicious irony in that the ships the Malaysians would most likely use for this task are their 1500 ton Littoral Mission Ships, which are chinese designs built in China. The irony of using China's ships against them appeals to me. :D :P

      But to be fair, if you want to be blockading and interdicting ships at the oil ports... well, part of me is concerned about the forces it ties up, but then I remembered that you don't need anything bigger than an LCS or a Perry; load a helo with your VBSS team (either normal sailors, or even SEALs, because the Teams have been doing this stuff for a while), helo them out to the ships, and have the nice well-armed men from the USN talk to the captain and make it clear to him that he is to proceed to the internment point. Then rinse and repeat.

  21. "To prevent this, we need to go a step further and utterly destroy China’s academic capability. We need to destroy every university, every think tank, every study group, every research facility, every school. We need to eliminate China’s ability to produce new engineers and scientists that can eventually design new military factories and new weapons. That’s how you prevent a repeat, future war."

    It seems to me that that is how you end up with one of two scenarios:

    1) You succeed, somehow, and completely eliminate the heart and brain of China. A fifth of the world's population is suddenly cast adrift, and basically has their society reduced to rubble. Completely putting aside the ethical, humanitarian and moral aspects, does that not sound like something that might possibly come back to bite you at some stage? Now, you might not especially care that you'll basically get crucified on the international stage. Or that there might be some issues for those ~1.4 billion people who have just been (almost literally) bombed back into the Stone Age. We'll assume that the USA in this instance does not give a solitary damn about what anyone (domestic or international) thinks of the 'kill a civilisation' plan and its after-effects. But dear god, surely the disease epidemics, floods of refugees and the likely flood of attacks from pissed-off people of Chinese ancestry are enough? Your plan is going to throw 20% of the global population into collapse and anarchy on a level that I don't think the world has seen since the Dark Ages. Syria will look like a goddamn sideshow next to that.

    But, maybe that isn't a concern. Whole ocean between the US and consequences, after all. Leave the rotting corpse of what was formerly one of the lynchpins of the global economy lying around. Who cares?

    Nature abhors a vacuum. If you aren't going to step in and take over, somebody else will. They probably won't have a choice - they can't pretend the disaster you left behind isn't there. And I can pretty much guarantee that the entirety of China, regardless of what they thought of you before, will do their utmost to work towards helping that somebody do to you exactly what was done to them. Hell, after seeing what you did, I wouldn't be surprised if a whole lot of people came together with that goal. After all, they'll probably figure that if you would do that to China, what the hell is stopping you from doing the same or worse to anybody smaller and less important?

    2) Human resiliency ensures that *some* industrial and academic capacity survives. You don't want to fight a land war, so everything shifts back, out of range of maritime assaults. Air power isn't going to suffice, and the Chinese aren't stupid. Once they see what's unfolding, they'll be bunkering down all the crucial things needed to rebuild. Simple mathematics - you don't have the resources to hit everything, and you certainly don't have them to hit everything *fast enough*. So you'll be left with a country that will know exactly what you were trying to do to it, and all the incentive in the world to build back up enough to return the favour.

    That is all assuming, of course, that you actually get the chance to even try Operation Khmer Rouge 2 - Aerial Edition. Which, given the forces in question, isn't anywhere near a foregone conclusion.

    1. This is the most one-sided analysis I've seen in a while! You lay all the blame for consequences of a war on the US while not even acknowledging that it was China that started the war (that was stipulated in the post). If you're a country that starts a world war you kind of have to expect to be badly mauled if you lose that war - Germany and Japan, for example.

      Further, I'm not suggesting bombing the random population back to the stone age. I've suggested destroying the military, military-industrial, and academic sites. That leaves most of the civilization and, indeed, technology intact (water processing, sanitation, food, non-military factories, transportation, etc.). As far as building hatred, there are two aspects to that: 1. If they started a global war against us, how much more could they hate us? 2. The historical examples of Germany and Japan suggest that you're completely wrong. Both of those countries were significantly destroyed and yet neither fostered the kind of long-lasting hatred you suggest.

      China will rebuild but they'll do so without the benefit of advanced weapons technology and education. They can still learn their A,B,C's but they won't be able to conduct advanced particle physics education and research leading to more advanced weapons. Thus, we ensure there won't be a repeat war.

    2. I can't think of a single equivalent example in modern history to your proposal to eliminate the educational capacity of an entire country (the largest country population wise in the world no less).

      The idea that this is even within the power of the United States strikes me as fanciful, regardless of anything else.

      How would individually target the millions of academics in a population of 1.3 billion people? How would you determine who to target, where they were? With what weapons would you strike these individuals? Cruise missiles fired from hundreds of miles away? To target individual academics?

      It seems ridiculous.

      I mean sure, you can blow up the civilian educational facilities, the public labs and universities.

      But military labs and research facilities, if they are not already, would simply be rebuilt underground, in secret, remote, hardened facilities.
      The academics themselves would simply go into hiding. They're not gonna sit around while the US military attempts some sort of pol pot style large scale holocaust of millions of educators.

      It's all a bit much.
      It's also completely unnecessary.
      The US didn't try and murder all of Japan and Germany's educators as part of prosecuting WW2.

    3. Alright, a few points:

      1. The key difference between Germany/Japan and the scenario/nightmare you’re proposing here is that *both of those involved an occupation*. The Allies didn’t just leave the bloody corpses there to rot and spread disease, war and chaos. They didn’t rip the whole supporting structure out from under the society, give a jaunty wave and sail off. They invested time and effort in rebuilding those countries, which did quite a bit to avoid lasting enmity. Here, you’re suggesting a fundamental lobotomisation of a civilisation and then buggering off! As I said before, that either ends with a cesspit that plagues the world for decades to come, or someone (not likely to be a friendly-to-the-US someone, either) stepping in to gap and using the pissed-off fury of the world’s largest population to eventually wreak a bloody vengeance.

      2. Pretty much -anything- industrial can (and as was seen in WW2 Germany) will be put towards trying to repel the sort of attacks you're talking about. China isn't just going to sit there and do nothing while its means of sustaining a war are just blown to bits. Look at the German example - pretty much everything down to local mechanics and carpenters ended up being a 'military-industrial' target! We're talking about a country that, even in peacetime, has the single largest manufacturing base in existence. What do you think is going to happen when the whole damn population goes to full war footing? They've got 1.4 billion people, who will have just been shown that the US means nothing less than the complete and utter destruction of their way of life. Even the most pacifist, yankee-loving chinese citizen isn’t going to be able to sit still when that becomes clear.

      3. Following up on an earlier point – because basically anything can and will be turned to military purposes in the face of a campaign like this, and for the objective you’ve laid out to have even a microscopic chance of succeeding you aren’t going to be able to restrict your targeting. You’ll be bombing cities. All the cities. Then deepening the craters to get at the bunkers that will be built under the cities to keep fighting. A state the size of China takes a lot of killing, and there is basically no set of circumstances where ‘completely remove the industrial and academic capabilities’ does not involve annihilating practically every population centre. That’s where those facilities are – same as in the US. Factories, universities, labs, military bases are all either built where people are, or people build around them. And you’re planning on doing this almost entirely from a distance, no great invasion. How long do you think that will take? And how long is it going to take before you just throw your hands up at that awful country’s refusal to simply lay down and be killed and expand the target set to just obliterating everything?

      4. Can I just take this last point to sit here, as a member of an increasingly connected and inter-related world, and gape in horror at the carnage this will inflict on everyone else? This isn’t the 1700s anymore. The world’s not a collection of mostly independent bits that occasionally touch, and can spark and flame without much being burnt. It’s the 21st century, and like it or not, humanity is now close. Every single poor bastard on this rock is in the same boat. If this happens, god forbid, then it’s not just the US and China that will be affected. Assuming, by some genuine miracle, it doesn’t go nuclear, how much damage will just the ripples and side-effects have on the rest of us?

      Like it or not, the US and China aren’t just countries anymore – you’re both crucial lynchpins in human civilisation. We, as a species, literally cannot afford to have you tearing each other apart, because it will take everyone else along for what is probably a one-way trip to hell.

    4. "The US didn't try and murder all of Japan and Germany's educators as part of prosecuting WW2."

      You've missed most of the key points.

      I'm not talking about targeting individual academics although any opportunity to target a large group would be welcome. I'm talking about targeting the facilities: schools, universities, think tanks, research facilties, and the like. Without facilties and equipment, modern, advanced academic research cannot proceed.

      We didn't need to do this in WWII Germany/Japan because we occupied the countries and forcefully guided the rebuild. We can't do that in China so we have to eliminate the ability to rebuild military capability which means eliminating the academic foundation for military research.

    5. "gape in horror at the carnage this will inflict on everyone else?"

      I guess that's why war isn't an Olympic sport. Perhaps you should be writing your comments on Chinese blogs since they're the ones propelling us down the path to war. Maybe save some of your horror and criticism for them instead of just for the US?

      How much sympathy can you have for a country that chooses to start a global war? I can't have much at all.

    6. "give a jaunty wave and sail off."

      I would offer all our resources towards rebuilding. If they accept, great. If they decline then they're on their own. The choice would be theirs. It's up to them how much post-war suffering they want.

    7. Your 100% one-sided condemnation is disgusting. Given the stipulated scenario all the horrors of war and the aftermath are 100% due to the Chinese and yet you want to lay all of the blame on the party that was attacked and victimized. Unbelievable.

    8. Given that I am one of the aforementioned poor bastards on the only of rock we exist on, I have something of a vested interest when somebody suggests a course of action that would do it no end of harm. At the point where you want to basically soak a society comprising of 20% of the world's population in gasoline and light the match, I don't particularly CARE who started it. The sort of thing you're describing is the first step down the road to mutual suicide as a species, and for all its downsides, I quite like humanity, and would like to see it grow and advance. Not strangle itself at the bottom of a gravity well because one arm of the organism decided "Fuck you all, this is more important!"

      This isn't the America I grew up hearing about. The one that was advancing us all forward, propelling us to new heights, a brighter tomorrow. Not talking about screwing the world up even further.

      What the hell happened?

    9. Part of America's tradition is standing up to evil dictators that would enslave the world. The cost to do so is enormous but the cost to not do so is even more ghastly. Suppose no one had stood up to Hitler? Is that the world you want to live in? The world under China's dictatorship would be every bit as bad. China doesn't hesitate to massacre its own citizens. How much less hesitation would they have to massacring the citizens of other countries. I'd rather be dead than a slave to China.

      This is exactly the America you've grown up hearing about. One that has the courage to bear the horrors of war if it means protecting the world from evil.

      What happened? Too many people have become to complacent and timid - that's what happened.

    10. I sorry but I have to disagree the US has a very limited tradition of standing up to dictators, and more typically it likes them as long they as follow the US lead (at least cold war). Now don't take that wrong its not every other great power tends to the same. But I think you really can't make some kind of crusade out of this. But don't be annoyed till read the whole thing.

      China is rising world power after centuries of being pushed around after falling from the height of the Tang period. Its no wonder the Oligarchy there turns to nationalism.

      I don't think dealing with them, or containment of them or challenging them as a rival has to lead inevitably to a full Total War - A war perhaps but depending on the kind I would think there are many option aside from Total war and many potential US victories. I agree we should be doing something and our policy has been seriously flawed. It was mistake to let them in the WTO (which actually very much undermined NAFTA) - but that was a widely bipartisan action pushed heavily by US industry with short term fantasies of a billion consumers damn the costs. It was really also a mistake to reassess our policy on China after the Cold War. We did not need a thorn in the side of USSR anymore why did not take stock of has become a nationalist oligarchy was unfortunate.

      If you believe hot conflict is inevitable I think you need to start at home. Ask why does China control the worlds rare earth production now? Why can Chinese mostly state owned shell companies buy high tech US companies that were in fact developed out of US national laboratories. Than close them and move all the equipment and IP to China?

      I worry less about a real war than how the has sat back and allowed China to aggressively use state companies to extract US IP and technology.

      The answers are ones the US has resits, subsidize Mountain pass so it can operate as not a environmental hell whole. Hire more investigators and regulator so they see through a sham shell company purchases and or react in time to stop it. It would require noticing that our enemies and friends don't always play by the rules or care about IP and US courts just can't say hmm critical technology but bought fair so guess its China's.
      It means making the CIA and FBI care a lot more about industrial espionage. The US got into bad habit of caring about commies and sort of ignoring industrial IP violations even from friends and enemies. Think can you think of any repercussion the US inflicted on Japan for loosing lathe technology (critical for Subs) to the USSR or Israel's repeated instance of handing US tech over to China to get an arms deal.

      The US economic system served us well back well most of the world was devastated by WW2, and on too the late 60/70s when much of the world was just getting out of colonial rule.

      If you think war is inevitable the first choice is economic. Play the same game China, bend all the rules until you knuckles get knocked and than just do it a bit different.

      You think Trump is oppsing China, I think his Tariffs are a problem. First by attacking allies who were not dumping steel they just run unfortunately better steel industries, he lost the chance to really create a joint action from either Europe and Japan etc. China really is dumping steel from state subsidized companies built for its big infrastructure spending a decade ago. If Trump had said the WHO can't handle this and the US would take lead and I think out traditional allies would followed. More problematically for me is back when it was only 20 billion in tariffs Trump seemed to agree to a deal that did nothing for IP but did have him agreeing to China just buying more beans and LNG to equal the trade deficit. That is making the US just a Third Would commodity producer.

    11. "the US has a very limited tradition of standing up to dictators"

      This is absolutely false. You may not have read the statement correctly so I'll repeat it,

      "America's tradition is standing up to evil dictators that would enslave the world."

      This is not saying that America goes around attacking every two-bit dictator in the world. It says that when such a country rises to the level of being a threat to the world, America stands up to them. The list includes WWI, WWII, Cold War, Gulf War, etc. So, you're completely, factually wrong about this.

      The rest of your comment is fine but it has nothing to do with the post.

    12. Hi Kath.

      It is true that the US turns a blind eye towards many unsavory dictators. The key distinction is that the dictators we tolerate are not seeking world domination. The Chinese dictators(the party) are clearly seizing geography in contravention of world law. The US is the only power that can stop them. Without the US china's domination would be much swifter. The chinese just grabbed the head of Interpol and disappeared him. The US is far from perfect and we do some incredibly stupid things but we are it. Millions of people try to come to the US every year for our wonderful opportunities, our freedom, our choices. I don't see anyone trying to break into china...


    13. Fellas,

      let's treat this (say, CNO, the Naval War College Professor, or head of USN answering to POTUS) giving out an assignment to students or admirals, to find an answer strictly under the stated stipulation, as an option (out of many options) if China is such and such.

      I'm sure this has been done already. CNO is interested recreating it in this blog.

      So, let's war it.

    14. "I don't see anyone trying to break into china..."

      Outstanding. Well said.

    15. "find an answer strictly under the stated stipulation"

      Have you kept track of what the question(s) was? You seem to have lost sight of it.

      The "question" (it wasn't really) is what victory condition should we establish (I didn't really ask - I told) and what force structure and disposition should we have to absorb the first blow and be able to respond.

      You're trying to turn it into all kinds of other issues. Within limits, I have no problem with that as long as you don't venture into the ridiculous and unproductive.

    16. There appears to be a flaw in this blog. I conducted a detailed analysis, but it was lost upon submission of the comment.

    17. You submitted complete and utter nonsense and it was deleted as such.

    18. OK for now let me dodge politics - I still disagree and will maybe reply on that. But...

      So the US is going to axe the INF treaty. Makes sense, Russia was already violating it out of necessity (re China). The Russians also made a reasonable argument that the US missiles defense bases in Poland and Eastern Europe were a violation as well.

      I would have preferred a joint declaration of the treaty being outdated. But whatever.

      So if you expect war with China, new question how many GLCNs can you set up around China (and how fast) to undermine the ideal they can force the USN to have to fight inside tier denial area in order to hurt them

      Get real Japanese buy in and load them up with US THAADs and Patriots and whatever and tons of mobile launchers for GLCMs.

  22. Hello ComNavOps,

    you emphasize to think strategically/operationaly, but in my opinion you fail to recognize, that a war vs China will not be a 1vs1, i think it will not even be isolated to the Pacific region.
    You have to take the wider geopoliticall angle into consideration, what is the wider alliance network of each participant, how likely is it for the respective allys to deliver on their commitments, what are the commitments(historically, some of the most important commitments of Nations to each other were secret) and what capabilities does each of the allies have.

    In my view, of the american allies in the Region, only Japan has any signifact military capability in terms of hardware, but i think it is unkikely that they would be capable to correctly utilize it. Just look at Saudi Arabia, they also have lots of good hardware, but the actual use of it....

    On Chinas Side you have to assume, that the relations between Russia and China are near alliance status.
    Russia does have a lot to offer in terms of covert(Subs,targeting data etc.) or open help for China. Especially since it will be clear to Russia, that if the US achieves the objectives you stated, it will likely be the next target. I think it is no coincidence, that Kissinger calls for improved relations with Russia.
    Furthermore Russia, Iran and other countries will use the american preoccupation with China to advance their goals in other regions, be it Europe(virtually defenseless without the US), the Middle East, you name it.
    The chances of a full out war between the USA and China staying 1vs1 or the ramifications of it being contained only to the Pacific Region are near zero. You have to factor that in.
    Best regards

    1. You're quite right to consider the various alliances and interactions. Russia would, undoubtedly provide covert assistance, to a degree. Note, however, that China and Russia have a deep-seated mistrust towards each other and are in constant conflict over the eastern Russian regions with China laying claim to vast areas. There is a limit to the amount of assistance Russia will provide.

      Russia is also counterbalanced by Europe. If Russia were to actively take part in combat, Europe would, undoubtedly, reply in kind. So, the alliances work both ways.

      European nations will, undoubtedly, supply the US with covert assistance.

      There is no need for Russia and the US to be enemies. We may never be solid friends but we don't need to be enemies. Russia's objectives are not, apparently, world domination as is the case with China. We should be able to find enough cautious common ground with Russia to establish a mutual benign tolerance to the point that Russia would not assist China. But, this is a topic for another blog.

      There is no reason to believe that Japan will not be competent. We assume China will be competent and yet they've not fought a modern war to prove or disprove that. Why would we not assume that Japan is competent? Everything I've ever seen or read about Japan suggests that they are very professional and competent.

    2. "you emphasize to think strategically/operationaly, but in my opinion you fail to recognize"

      I recognize it clearly! You need to recognize that these are blog posts. I have a few to several paragraphs to work with for each topic. I have to winnow down to the bare essentials to make my points. I could write a book on Chinese-US-world relations and the military implications but that would be a book, not a post!

      The hardest part about blogging is not deciding what to write about but deciding what to leave out.

      I commend you for recognizing the wider ramifications of the subject and bringing it up. That's what comments are for - to amplify the main post. Well done.

  23. On Nov 7th, just a few days from now no country will be allowed to buy Iranian oil. I believe their biggest customer is china. We have an event scheduled in the SCS at the same time. Details not public yet. I hope its big and loud. Maybe even an extended barbecue at Fiery Cross Reef.

  24. What's fascinating and quite sad is after 90 some comments, there really isn't much said on what USA can do right NOW and the coming years? to fix this situation....

    1. 1. Get out of Sasebo.

      2. Downsize Kadena.

      This will make our military less vulnerable, improve relations with Japan, and save lots of money. Unfortunately, our neutered Admirals and Generals have so much fun touring their kingdoms they don't give a damn.

    2. "This will make our military less vulnerable"

      You've addressed the first strike vulnerability. Now, what do you propose for enhancing our offensive capabilities given the very few basing options you've left on the table?

    3. Kadena and Sasebo bases will still exist. We can fly an aerial tanker squadron from Hawaii to Kadena in six hours, so best to base it at Hickam, and have the families there in Hawaii too. All safely out of range. Then once the shooting begins, deploy them where needed.

      We can use the savings to ready contingency FOBs at places like Andrews, Clark, Mactan (Philippines) Iwo Jima (now a Japanese airfield) Palau (where we already pay for military base rights) Saipan, and even on Guam (Aguana and North Field). Build bunkers and pre-po fuel, aircraft munitions, tentage, airfield support equip ect next these operational civilian airfields.

      The big threat are the ballistic missiles, but China will fire off most of these the first couple of weeks, demolishing all big bases in range, and any aircraft on the ground. After that, things will be quieter and squadrons can be deployed where needed and where possible. If Kadena somehow survives in good shape, they can fly there.

      People worry about the supercarrier we homeport near Tokyo. What about the LHD 700 miles closer to China with a crew of 2000. Losing that on day one would be embarrassing, especially trying to explain to an angry Congress why the hell it was based there!

  25. We are doing something right now. President Trump, against the chorus of naysayers has imposed tariffs. These tariffs will hopefully increase as the Chinese weaken their currency to offset the effects of the tariffs which will lead to more capital leaving china. President Trump has a plan to contain china by bringing back our jobs which previous administrations did not. Maybe next month we get to see unusual demonstrations of our uniqueness.

    1. You're quite right. Trump has done more to contain China than any President previously (not that that's saying much!). It remains to be seen how far he's willing to take it. For example, he has made no effort to curtail China's militaristic expansion throughout the South China Sea other than via indirect economic pressure.

      We could, if not cripple China, seriously hurt China economically if we wanted to push the issue. Whether Trump will take it that far remains to be seen. Anything short of that is just peripheral, half-measures.

  26. A proposal to bring back the New Jersey is not science fiction. You take her to Bath Iron Works and cut through the deck and go all the way down to the boilers and steam turbines and below that the condensers and remove the bullgear (reduction gear) and all the pumps. That creates a massive space for many diesel engines. There will be a buoyancy issue but that is what math is for. Baby steps. It can be done.

  27. I would leave our present forces forward deployed as they are. We need public/world support in a conflict. Our losses in the first days/hours however horrific will occur. I would use our only really stealthy platform the subs to sink any invasion fleet to Taiwan. I suspect that china will not use conventional troop carriers but a swarm of thousands of small fast boats, perhaps their fishing fleet? We have to defend Taiwan. We have no choice. If we did not oppose the attack our allies would lose faith in their alliance with us. I hope President Trump sends the US Navy
    to ROC for port visits and stays, just like in Japan. If china is going to attack lets hope it is now and not 7 years from now.

    1. Just to be clear, you're aware of the Taiwan Relations Act (1979)? The US is NOT bound to defend Taiwan. It may but there is no legal or treaty requirement to do so. Thus, if we opted not to defend Taiwan, there would be no legal basis for any worldwide outrage.

      As far as leaving our forces as they are, the high probability of losing a $15B (replacement cost) carrier is an awful lot to accept just to gain world support, if that is your reasoning. I would think that China initiating a world war would be all the rationale for support that we would need. If you want us to defend Taiwan, losing a carrier for no good reason is not a good way to start the defense.

  28. Jimmy Carter. I thought he was the worst president until Obama was elected.

  29. What difference does it make if a carrier is in Yokosuka or San Diego? They are sitting ducks in both places. I believe a carrier that is at sea is survivable. At least I hope so. But a carrier at dockside? Even with tugs? I do not know how long it takes to scramble but its hard to believe that a container ship that is weaponized cannot take out the carrier whichever port it is in.

    1. A weaponised container ship lacks surface search radar to cue containerised AShMs, and can only use the top stacks of containerised AShMs to prosecute an attack.

      Containerised AShMs aren't really for turning every container ship into a Q-ship, regardless of Russian marketing propaganda; they're more self contained units to quickly upgun patrol ships fitted for but not with missiles - for example, the Italian PPA* light configuration, Malaysian LMS and NGPV, Chinese LMS, and so on.

    2. I think you have a bit unrealistic idea of how easy it is to park commercial ships next to carriers especially if there have been indications of pending war.

      Using your reasoning, every ship in the Navy is at risk. I don't really see this as a viable threat.

    3. "A weaponised container ship lacks surface search radar to cue containerised AShMs,"

      All container ships are required by various laws and regulations to have surface search radar. What they lack is a fire control system to tie the radar data into the launch system. A rudimentary fire control system wouldn't be difficult to add to a purpose-designed, containerized system.

    4. "All container ships are required by various laws and regulations to have surface search radar. What they lack is a fire control system to tie the radar data into the launch system. A rudimentary fire control system wouldn't be difficult to add to a purpose-designed, containerized system."

      I wouldn't really call the Furuno a surface search radar, particularly as it doesn't have track processing software. What I meant was more, yes, container ships have surface search radar, but they don't have the sort of radar that you use for targeting and cueing missiles. That said, the Russians offer a whole package of containerised systems to accompany the Club-K; you've got containerised elevating surface search radar and a command & control container (with the necessary FCS), but then these are more for coastal defense applications - take the AShM and radar containers, mate them to ordinary semi trailers and you can move them where you need them, or, as i said, augmenting ships' firepower. (Still, it's an option.)

      There's the other issue that Peter's unaware of, which is that trying to use a civilian container ship as a disguised ambush ship counts as perfidy, a warcrime. Say China pulls this trick on the US. Sinking every single Chinese container ship would count as a legitimate reprisal.

      You *could* legitimately use containerised AShMs to turn a container ship as an arsenal ship, but you'd need to formally declare your intentions to use said ship as a military ship, and it just runs into the prior problems of arsenal ships, but hey, it's a possibility.

    5. giant tanker or container ship filled with sand or water can be a good missile sponge protecting the fleet , if only theres people thinking out of the box in USN

    6. Auxiliary cruisers were used by both Royal Navy and Kriegsmarine, the German ones in disguise of allied merchant ships. The British auxiliary cruisers were useful for presence, such as blockades or convoy escort, and the German raiders tied up Commonwealth assets far away from Europe until they were swept.

    7. Q-ships as convoy escorts is a different thing from using Q-ships as a disguised first strike ambush weapon. The former is a defensive application, the other is a sneak attack.

  30. CNO , a peer war with china or russia will cause the reinstatement of draft in USA. Please write a follow up article on china vs US war from the POV of US citizen if suddenly they are called up to war. will this generation fight or flee to canada ?

    1. They'll fight if the reason is valid. It's always been that way.

  31. a question CNO , do you think US will threaten to go nuclear if china sank a supercarrier ? how much loss would US politicians accept before threatening to go nuclear ?

    1. America will never use nuclear weapons unless another country does first. The US cannot even conceive of using nuclear weapons on a tactical basis.

  32. It is in Americas interest for the War to be as wide and long as possible, it is in Chinas interest for a short, limited war.

    "How many and what type of forces we should have forward deployed given that they will be hit hard and likely lost in the opening moments of a war?"

    Wide area weapons, things like Patriot Batteries, China would struggle to invade Taiwan whilst facing an integrated air defence zone covering Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea, it can and will knock out the sites in Taiwan, but it either accepts the fire and targeting data from the other nations sites, or it ignites a major regional war by attacking them.

    "Should our few forward bases be hardened more than they are given the expected ballistic and cruise missile attacks?"
    Yes and no.
    Its less about making them survivable, more about forcing the attack to be undeniable, you have to force China to attack Vietnam, and that attack must be such that Vietnam is compelled to respond.

    "Do we have sufficient forward deployed engineering assets to quickly rebuild initially damaged bases?"
    Yes and no, sufficient organic capacity to maintain some operational capability, dig new firing pits and roads, but not enough to keep airfields open.

    "Is it wise to have naval forces based in Japan given the proximity to Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles and the resultant likelihood of their loss?"
    A resupply base, yes, but not a battleship row.

    "Are we willing to fight for Taiwan in the initial stages of a war?"
    You have to be, Taiwan can absolutely hammer china, but it cant win alone, Chinese reprisals are too big a risk, better to surrender without a shot fired and hope for mercy.

    " After all, who enters a war with losing being the desired end result? Ironically, and disturbingly, the US has not attempted to win a war since WWII."
    70 years after the second world war ended with the total destruction of Germany, Germany has subjugated Europe just as thoroughly, if less violently than Adolf, Wilhelm or Otto.

    Nothing is ever really settled,
    The Romans conquered Carthage, tore the city to the ground and took its populace as slaves, Carthage is now Tunis, the capital of Tunisia,

  33. An interesting topic that merits lots of discussion, especially as it would be mostly naval. I certainly see it as more likely than a conflict with Russia in the future.

    "It is in Americas interest for the War to be as wide and long as possible, it is in Chinas interest for a short, limited war."
    My feelings are that the opposite is true. Considering the size of the two navies, a war of attrition does not bode well for the US. Assuming that a first strike eliminates many of our localized assets(at least mission kills the Japan based CVN),we are handicapped at the outset. Our ability to surge a multiple CVN force to replace it is in doubt. And in a longer conflict, the days of spooling up shipyards and turning out warships to replace losses are over. I just dont see new Burkes being launched every few weeks. Certainly not a few carriers to replace losses as well as enlarge the fleet. The infrastructure and ability is not there, even with a population enraged by a Pearl Harbor type event.To a point, this holds true for the smart munitions we so heavilly rely on as well.And we have no reserve fleet to speak of, so we will have to win the fight with whats available on Day 1. Our response would have to be quick and massive, and if it wasnt a decisive dismembering of the Chinese military and (maybe moreso)its government that broke its will to continue, we would be in trouble.
    As far as abandoning Taiwan, we certainly shouldnt, but our ability to be that close with surface assets is debateable. If an invasion fleet sets sail, then I would hope to have naval attack variant armed SSGNs closeby to counter it. These are some of the most potent and important ships to have in theatre on the outset of a conflict in my mind, as I assume the single CVBG would probably be overwhelmed and even if it survived would be operating purely defensive until reinforced.
    The concept of eliminating Chinas intellectual base is novel, and I see its merits. But wouldnt targeting the government and hoping for a regime change be a more realistic strategy? Clearly we could never occupy China. So my question here is "Is the average Chinese citizen a happy one?" Is their resurgent nationalism truth or propaganda at the average citizens level" Would the population support this war and attack on the US after our first counterattacks? Because although once embroiled, our goal would to be to win at some level, attacking more civilian institutions seems like a way to permanently anger a HUGE population, and sow the seeds of future conflict, even if generations in the future. We were able to avoid that in Japan and Germany by occupying and rebuilding, which weve decided isnt a viable option here. So wouldnt a governmental change be the best targeted outcome??

    1. ""It is in Americas interest for the War to be as wide and long as possible, it is in Chinas interest for a short, limited war."
      My feelings are that the opposite is true. Considering the size of the two navies, a war of attrition does not bode well for the US."

      The US shipyards are not geared up for rapid production, but the west coast yards are hard to attack and the east coast are utterly impossible for China to knock out.
      Chinas yards can churn out ships by the dozens, in peacetime, but the US will knock them out for fun in a war, shipyards are massive and cant be particularly well defended.

      Periodic B1/B2 raids lobbing two dozen JASSMs a pop would not only knock out construction and repair, but the Chinese surface fleet in port as well.

      The US blue water fleet can blockade China in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but China can't blockade the US in the Pacific and Atlantic, the Chinese fleet would struggle to maintain a blockade of Hawaii against minimal opposition.

      "But wouldnt targeting the government and hoping for a regime change be a more realistic strategy?"
      In the short term, yes, but its not a long term solution, China is always going to want to dominate the Greater East Asia area,

    2. "The US blue water fleet can blockade China in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but China can't blockade the US in the Pacific and Atlantic"

      You're assuming that China has any reason to want to leave the S/E China Seas. Strategically (on a geopolitical scale), they have no reason to do so. All their near to moderate term goals border the S/E China Seas. There is nothing China wants outside that area … yet (those will come later). Thus, our ability to blockade China's navy is almost pointless. They wouldn't leave their A2/AD zone anyway, even if they could.

      Without a doubt, China will attempt to make any war one of attrition and the further into the future, the more pronounced that will be as they gain numerical advantages across the board while we abandon numbers and firepower in favor of data.

  34. Now as far as prewar force disposition, I think the single Japan based CVN is certainly a ripe target. But what are our other options? Pull back to Pearl? Or forward deploy enough carriers together to make their survivability and continued offensive capability viable after the initial strikes(if thats possible)??? Maybe Japan-basing isnt the answer. Do we have options for forward deployment in the region yet more out of reach of initial strikes(balanced with the inability of the CVBGs to commence any offensive operations for the first few days due to their distance away)?? Australia, IO, Bay of Bengal, etc? What are our other basing options with regard to infrastructure, resupplyability, and the political climate with countries as potential hosts/allies?? Im assuming that Chinas opening moves would be unrestrained and wouldn't be concerned with avoiding bringing Japan into the conflict, as attacking an in-port or ground based US asset could possibly do.
    Hardening of all bases out to Guam is somthing it seems we should be doing right now, and even Pearl should be doing it to a smaller degree. I think an attack on Pearl would be somthing that even the Chinese would think twice about, knowing the historical significance and massive outcry it would cause by attacking American soil, but the ability to dramatically impact our logistical situation and the chance to succeed where the Japanese failed could make it worthwhile(think fuel and munitions targeting, not ships). So hardening/dispersion is certainly needed, as well as dedicated ASW protection...


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