The China Question

Discuss air warfare, doctrine, air forces, historic campaigns, etc.
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PhillyGuy

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Unread post25 Jul 2012, 03:15

It seems inevitable that before this decade is over the two powers will test each other. Whether this be via proxy or a direct, short, intense engagement remains to be seen. But what is already established is the way in which people expect such a confrontation to unfold. It seems that we have accepted a fact and a world in which during such a conflict Chinese missiles would rain down with near impunity on coalition runways, ports, bases and even ships, as is to be expected. But why is this expected? Why have we accepted this fate? How can this be allowed? China would have to bombard everything from Alaska to Australia with ballistic missiles and would be allowed to under current thinking as a valid form of warfare!

This is very dangerous. We have essentially told a rising power that it does not need to so much worry about establishing a credible air force, or logistic lines, and all of the complex and innumerable assets and capabilities needed to project power (or which can conveniently bleed a State), in order to safe guard its security and build a deterrent. As long, that is, as it has the Second Artillery Corps to do its bidding. It boggles the mind that we would disavow this capability ourselves and yet passively, if not actively encourage a rising power to embrace. Why would they be allowed to say, 'Hey, look, I know we're in a shooting war here, but those ballistic missiles are conventional, so don't respond nuclear, even if we have thousands of them.' Are you kidding me?

And everyone talks of defeating things, why not destroying things? From the cyber realm to the missile front, it seems we are digging in for an inevitable onslaught, to absorb, to ride out. I cannot believe this mentality. The U.S. military has been what it is precisely because it dictates the terms, takes initiative and uses the violence of action to confront, contain and ultimately destroy an opponent. And yet here in this context, and with China in general, we are on the defensive. Why so touchy? Why so scared? The best way to kill the DF-21 is not with more SM-3s and point defense or carrier ops from 1000 miles out, but with an unconditional policy that we would actively target and preemptively bombard those sites and mobile launchers at the mere whiff of conflict. And that a carrier, is just as precious to us as New York City. The best way to defeat China is not to allow it to arrange the battlefield and then we respond, that is a losing affair in war and it has always been.

I haven't seen a single statement, plan, doctrine or policy which has us bombarding Beijing for the loss of Kadena. Why should we restrict ourselves to self defense only, and only target those sites which attacked us? If a hand slaps me, do I grab the hand, or punch the person in the face? This paradox of fighting a war while not really fighting a war, attacking the enemy while not really attacking the enemy must have the Chinese planners delighted. No wonder they think they can win a short duration engagement by keeping the US out, and forcing us to settle the terms from a disadvantage. We have ourselves told them this and worse yet, have postured ourselves to allow for it to happen!

Strategic ambiguity is not a good thing. It is a dangerous thing. The Chinese have no ambiguity, they expect to and are prepared to take Taiwan by force. They expect to and are prepared to bombard South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and God knows what other location on the globe. They have in so much stated this with words as they have with deeds and actions. And by doing so repeatedly and demonstrably, by stating such, they have forced us to realize and accept these conditions, and to prepare for their inevitable inclusion. This, is the power of a CLEAR and UNCONDITIONAL strategic posture and outlook. It forces the opponent to accept risks and scenarios which they themselves would normally find too dangerous or unacceptable.

It's unfortunate that we have chosen this path, and already forgotten how we beat the Soviets. We didn't do it by hiding our intent and backing off their turf, we did it by confronting them everywhere and anywhere, in not only the same manner, but in superior fashion via Pershings and Star Wars. Now, we wait for China to make the first move, when and after they are done prepping the strategic landscape in their favor. What a terrible tragedy we are sleepwalking towards. Where we allow our most enduring and greatest assets, which we've poured trillions and decades of effort and blood into, to be wiped out in a single blow. Then, we say, we will see how everything turns out and go from there. I pity a sailor, airman, grunt or marine who has to fight under a leadership with such impositions.

If a fight breaks out, China might win, and the ambiguity of that we've sown ourselves. Let's just hope they never get too confident, because we'll be in for a shock.

I could say more, I am a patriot after all, and I am also not sure how this relates to Air Power per se, but, this seems the proper board for this.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
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1st503rdsgt

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Unread post25 Jul 2012, 06:15

Time to bring back Eisenhower's "New Look" strategy, the simplest and cheapest way to tell a rival superpower to back the f@ck off.
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bigjku

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Unread post25 Jul 2012, 16:44

I think you are a bit overwrought on the issue. Yes there is ambiguity about the issue in terms of explicit policy statements but the way the US has fought conflicts since 1990 makes it pretty clear that the US military is going to go hard and fast after the other sides command and control, air defense and offensive systems right from the outset. I don't think the ambiguity you suggest really exist in this case. Certainly not to that degree.

It actually seems fairly clear to me the US is going about putting in place the systems to attack these type of weapons. Additionally the US is putting in place a capability to reply in much greater effect, though not in kind, by deploying a large number of cruise missiles through the JASSM and TLAM routes.

I don't think a nuclear reply is really necessary to the launch of IRBM's against US targets. The US would do well in a conventional air war and China would run out of IRBM's long before the US ran out of its assortment of weapons.
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Prinz_Eugn

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Unread post04 Aug 2012, 21:01

To me, this doesn't really make sense. The political objectives of both sides are to get as much as they want as possible, for as little cost. Getting into a war would be the exact opposite of that, since a major conflict would be so devastating. We're not remotely close to a point where declaring how we would respond to an attack makes sense, since issuing such a statement basically declares your own hostile intent, and only makes a conflict more likely.

China's only going to start a war over Taiwan if it's really obvious that Taiwan is dead-set on independence. And right now, cross-straight relations are basically the best they've ever been... Basically, it makes more sense for the PRC to accept Taiwan's ambiguous status and keep them in their economic orbit than take formal control of the island by force and wreck their own economy when the US gets involved.

The fundamental difference between the PRC and the USSR during the Cold War is that the PRC is much more integrated into the world economy, and has much more to gain by going along with the world economy than providing a half-assed "Second World" like the Soviet Union did, and they know it.
"A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war."
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HaveVoid

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Unread post05 Aug 2012, 06:04

I find your initial post quite interesting, Phillyguy, and perhaps it is indeed a conversation that needs to be had. You ask why it is widely accepted that Chinese BM's would rain down on every airbase from Taiwan to Okinawa, and I guess the reason that is accepted is because stopping it would simply be improbable. How many PAC-3 and THAAD batteries would need to be deployed to successfully negate this threat? How many SM-3 toting DDG's and CG's would need to be trawling the waters between China and her targets to neutralize such a barrage? And how would you keep those ships safe from China's vast FAC and Submarine fleets? If, for some odd reason, conflict seemed imminent, I'd imagine you would indeed see a migration of such ABM assets to the theatre-but the question as to how effective they would be remains to be seen.

As for the USA sitting back and allowing China to attack, with us and our allies having to absorb said blow, what else would you have us do? If we were to srike first, we become the aggressors in an "Illegal war of aggression", and if we don't, we have to accept losses. One outcome casts us in a negative light, the other perhaps enables us to call upon NATO and other Allies who see us as the victims, and not executors, of an attack. The turth is, however, that our military policy towards China must remain opaque. Why should we state "For the loss of MCAS Iwanuki we will bombard the Chinese naval facilities at Dalian..."? It goes without saying that the Joint Chiefs and the President will pursue the most effective war plan possible.

While China is a threat, she is mainly a regional threat. Her sea ower is FAR too under-developed for us to begin needing to worry about anything other than a nuclear threat against CONUS. As for Taiwan, I can't say with any certainty that we would do much more than plead to the UN in the event of an invasion. I think the mental image of CVN's racing across the pacific to come to Taipei's aid is somewhat idealistic. We wouldn't risk PRC relations over it, and odds are Taiwan would fall before we could do much more than launch a B-2 raid or two.


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southernphantom

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Unread post05 Aug 2012, 13:47

The only actions the US should take vis a vís the UN are withdrawal and expelling it from our sovereign territory.
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HaveVoid

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Unread post06 Aug 2012, 00:52

I would love to hear the rationale for this statement, SothernPhantom.
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bigjku

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Unread post06 Aug 2012, 01:10

HaveVoid wrote:How many PAC-3 and THAAD batteries would need to be deployed to successfully negate this threat? How many SM-3 toting DDG's and CG's would need to be trawling the waters between China and her targets to neutralize such a barrage? And how would you keep those ships safe from China's vast FAC and Submarine fleets?

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I am curious how many IRBM's people think that China has...They don't have thousands or even really hundreds of the things as far as I can tell, especially not the longer range ones that could really mess with more distant US bases.
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HaveVoid

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Unread post06 Aug 2012, 03:51

Conventionally armed? That is hard to say, their largest Missile inventory seems to be CSS-7s, which I do not think have the range to do the job (300ish KM). For hitting Taiwan, its more than enough however. I think the Ballistic Missile threat with regards to China is a potential, but not realized, threat at present moment. Unless tthey have thousands upon thousands of unknown weapon types, it would seem that the probability of Kadena being rained upon anytime soon is far from possible. However, if such an attack were to be realized is what my above quoted post was trying to refer to.



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sorrydog

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Unread post11 Aug 2012, 02:06

I believe most people from the U.S. over-estimate the internal stability and cohesiveness of Chinese political decision making.

I only lived there for 3 months, but one of my first impressions was how fractured and variable the political structure of country is. Shanghai is almost like it's own country...like how Texas feels independent but much more so...or how military sets it's own goals and budgets.

I believe that the fear of the economic repercussions of a hostile action towards Taiwan would keep the Chinese military in its own borders indefinitely. Because even a short period of recession or negative economic growth translates to significant probability of change of players in central Chinese politics. The ghost of Tienanmen Square still stalks the politics there.

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