Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good News - Bad News, China Version

Outside of obama and his band of merry idiots, along with assorted rhinos and other creatures living inside the Washington D.C. beltway, IMO the biggest threat to America these days is China (radical islamists are a close second - I have them ahead on desire, but behind on organization and intelligence). Not only are the chicoms an economic threat, but they are now entertaining dangerous thoughts about going up against us in a shooting war.

China thinks it can defeat America in battle
The bad news first. The People's Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing.

Now the good news. China is wrong — and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America's nuclear-powered submarines.
Regardless of whether or not the chicoms can win, the fact that they think they can win is a serious problem. Making matters worse is a limited time frame for China to come out on top.
Moreover, for economic and demographic reasons Beijing has a narrow historical window in which to use its military to alter the world's power structure. If China doesn't make a major military move in the next couple decades, it probably never will.
So what makes China so confident it can take down Uncle Sam?
... after two decades of sustained military modernization, the Chinese military has fundamentally changed its strategy in just the last year or so. According to Fuell, recent writings by PLA officers indicate "a growing confidence within the PLA that they can more-readily withstand U.S. involvement" ... Beijing believes it can attack Taiwan or another neighbor while also bloodlessly deterring U.S. intervention. It would do so by deploying such overwhelmingly strong military forces — ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, jet fighters, and the like — that Washington dare not get involved.
There's a lot of truth in that. China's military has been getting larger and more advanced, while U.S. forces are shrinking and relying more and more on unreliable technology.

However, the U.S. still has a hole card to play - at least in the near future.
... America possesses by far the world's most powerful submarine force — one poised to quickly sink any Chinese invasion fleet. In announcing its readiness to hold off the U.S. military, the PLA seems to have ignored Washington's huge undersea advantage.

The Navy has 74 submarines, 60 of which are attack or missile submarines optimized for finding and sinking other ships or blasting land targets. The balance is ballistic-missile boats that carry nuclear missiles and would not routinely participate in military campaigns short of an atomic World War III.

According to Adm. Cecil Haney, the former commander of Pacific Fleet subs, on any given day 17 boats are underway and eight are "forward-deployed," meaning they are on station in a potential combat zone. To the Pacific Fleet, that pretty much means waters near China.

Able to lurk silently under the waves and strike suddenly with torpedoes and missiles, submarines have tactical and strategic effect greatly disproportionate to their relatively small numbers. During the 1982 Falklands War, the British sub Conqueror torpedoed and sank the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, killing 323 men. The sinking kept the rest of the Argentine fleet bottled up for the duration of the conflict.

America's eight-at-a-time submarine picket in or near Chinese waters could be equally destructive to Chinese military plans, especially considering the PLA's limited anti-submarine skills. "Although China might control the surface of the sea around Taiwan, its ability to find and sink U.S. submarines will be extremely limited for the foreseeable future," Cliff testified. "Those submarines would likely be able to intercept and sink Chinese amphibious transports as they transited toward Taiwan."

That reality should inform Washington's own strategy. As the United States has already largely achieved the world order it struggled for over the last century, it need only preserve and defend this order. In other words, America has the strategic high ground against China, as the latter must attack and alter the world in order to get what it wants.

In practical military terms, that means the Pentagon can more or less ignore most of China's military capabilities, including those that appear to threaten traditional U.S. advantages in nukes, air warfare, mechanized ground operations, and surface naval maneuvers.

"We won't invade China, so ground forces don't play," pointed out Wayne Hughes, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. "We won't conduct a first nuclear strike. We should not adopt an air-sea strike plan against the mainland, because that is a sure way to start World War IV."

Rather, America must deny the Chinese free access to their near waters. "We need only enough access to threaten a war at sea," Hughes said. In his view, a fleet optimized for countering China would have large numbers of small surface ships for enforcing a trade blockade. But the main combatants would be submarines, "to threaten destruction of all Chinese warships and commercial vessels in the China Seas."
That analysis seems to make sense. Hopefully the Chinese think so too. Of course, a lot depends on whether our elected 'leaders' have enough brains and guts to steer us on the correct course. Based on the current buffoons currently wasting oxygen in D.C. I have my doubts.
If American subs can hold the line for another 20 years, China might age right out of its current, aggressive posture without ever having attacked anyone. That's because economic and demographic trends in China point towards a rapidly aging population, flattening economic growth, and fewer resources available for military modernization.

So it almost doesn't matter that a modernized PLA thinks it possesses the means to fight America above the waves, on land, and in the air. If it can't safely sail an invasion fleet as part of its territorial ambitions, it can't achieve its strategic goals — capturing Taiwan and or some island also claimed by a neighboring country — through overtly military means.
It does matter if the PLA thinks it can successfully fight America. There would be no real winner in such a conflict, irrespective of whoever comes out on top on the battlefield. I just hope the Chinese are smart enough to realize that.

If you have the time, read the entire article. It's worth it.


Old NFO said...

They DO have us significantly out numbered... sigh

CenTexTim said...

It's not just the numbers. They're catching up technologically as well, which is what really worries me.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

What could set them off is a world wide financial collapse, which isn't far fetched.

CenTexTim said...

True. As the old song says, "When you got nuthin' you got nothing to lose..."