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How China Might Conduct a War Against the United States
Harry Kazianis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Center for the National Interest and a Senior Fellow at the China Policy Institute, as well as the former Executive Editor of The National Interest. Additionally, he serves as Editor of RealClearDefense.
So the other day he had a column in The National Interest on what might happen if there was a U.S.-Sino war in Asia. Granted, as he points out, today the chances of this are remote, especially owing to the hundreds of billions in bilateral trade.
But, as I write in my “Week in Review” columns and as Mr. Kazianis postulates, Beijing and Washington could still go to war over something like Taiwan or a dispute in the East or South China Seas.
So I just want to list one potentiality of Mr. Kazianis’ should China decide to go to war with the United States.
“Let us assume for the purposes of this article China has decided to strike kinetically and decisively. Let us also assume Beijing’s goal is to limit the ability of U.S. forces along with their allies the capability to strike back conventionally. China in this scenario has also decided it will not use nuclear weapons and limit its war aims to the Asia-Pacific theatre. So, knowing all that, how would China go to war against America? Here is what I would do if I was a China:
“As Mr. Miyagi put it best, ‘If man can’t see, he can’t fight.’ The same can be said of a modern nation state fielding state of the art weapons of war – Beijing could simply try to blind America before it knows it is under attack. This is a simple enough concept and one most scholars assume China would utilize in a conflict. America loves its command and control (C2) systems combined with state of the art C4ISR to destroy its enemies. Think the 1991 Gulf War and every other conflict America has fought since then. Modern C2 and C4ISR systems control the ability of U.S. war fighters to wage conflict with all military services fighting evermore jointly. This allows the sharing of information concerning enemy positions and capabilities in real time across the services and with allies, dropping ‘smart bombs’ on target, and many other capabilities that give Washington what might just be its ultimate advantage.
“What if Beijing simply degraded and destroyed the ability of U.S. forces to have those advanced eyes and ears and brought back an old foe of U.S. forces – the much hated ‘fog of war?’ If that was the goal, a Chinese military campaign might just begin in cyberspace. Beijing might launch massive cyber strikes against U.S. command control centers around the world – trying to blind America and disrupt the ability of U.S. warfighters from seeing the coming battlefield in real time. Such strikes, at least if I was in charge in Beijing, would come from third party countries (or at least look like it thanks to proxy servers). America would know its systems were under attack, but it might not be clear from who – at least not right away. China would have the advantage, at least for now.
“The next blow would come before America could ascertain who was striking at the heart of its best military capabilities – and this one would have China’s fingerprints all over them. Beijing would begin to attack American satellites in orbit, attempting to destroy Washington’s massive intelligence gathering machine and communications systems. At this point, war has definitely started and there is no mistake who is behind it.
“Saturation Strikes: Think Chinese ‘Shock and Awe’ with Lots of Missiles
“First China blinds its enemy, than it drops the hammer. A large body of recent Western literature assumes China would leverage the large amounts of cruise and ballistic weapons it has developed over the last several decades in any conflict with America and its allies. This includes mostly accurate short, medium, and long-range weapons and the much ballyhooed anti-ship ballistic missile or ‘carrier-killer.’
“After Beijing is assured Washington and its allies are in C2 and C4ISR hell, the Chinese version of ‘shock and awe’ would be on full display. Beijing – at least if I was at the helm – would launch a massive barrage of cruise and ballistic missiles from the land, air, and sea. The likely targets: U.S. and possibly allies air bases with many of their advanced aircraft on the tarmac like sitting ducks, physical command and control centers, and U.S. naval vessels around the Pacific. China would attempt to do as much damage in one massive blow, and hope that it was strong enough to induce either a meager U.S. and allied response or possibly none at all.”
“The challenge here is as simple as math itself. If China launched a massive missile strike against allied forces across the Pacific, there would simply not be enough interceptors, even assuming a 100% hit-to-kill ratio, to make a dent in the problem. You say make more interceptors? These are extremely expensive and China could simply make even more missiles to counter them, exacerbating the problem....
“(And) if Beijing was really slick it could fire off older missiles that were not as accurate towards allied naval vessels – almost like decoys – just to shrink the number of available interceptors.”
So those are just a few of Mr. Kazianis’ thoughts. Now who wants a beer?
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