From the AP this morning:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department is questioning how China intends to use its rapidly expanding military power, including what it calls some “disruptive military technologies.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

A new Pentagon report also says Beijing continues to develop weapons that threaten Taiwan, even though tensions between the two have been reduced significantly.

The assessment comes in the latest in a series of annual assessments for Congress of China’s military power.

The Associated Press obtained a summary of the report, due to be released later Wednesday.

It says China needs to be more open about its military modernization; otherwise it risks creating uncertainty and the potential for misunderstandings and miscalculations by other nations.

**************************

There are a considerable number of learned people who believe that Taiwan is no longer the primary, but Indonesia and the southern archipelagoes are China’s main focus, and that the technology being developed is with an eye specifically toward the United States Navy. China’s ability to deny access to this vital area of the world by the US has potentially massive strategic implications for ourselves and our allies.




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Uncategorized


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  • FOD Detector

    GEN John “Jack” D. Ripper probably has the best gouge of China’s true intentions. Of course, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake may have a different take.

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    One only has to return to World War II to see the strategic importance of the South China and Phillipine Seas. Admiral Toyoda acknowledged that it would be better to annihilate the Imperial Japanese Navy rather than yield the shipping lanes around the Phillipines.

    I recently commented on the necessity of an open-ocean escort class for our large MSC force with the encounter between the USNS Impeccable and Chinese ships in my home blog. URR astutely points out that as our uncertainty about China’s intentions increases, events like the Impeccable’s harassment could become increasingly volatile. Our logistics and survey ships need a cost-effective class for armed escort/convoy protection.

    One of the Navy’s central missions has always been the protection of civilian shipping and commerce. If the risk of conflict with China increases, a blue-water convoy escort is essential to ensuring access.

  • Sam Kotlin

    What threat? Gimme a break. These guys are going to commit economic suicide to go into conflict with the one nation that can inflict severe harm on their nation and their regime? And they with a China-centric world view entirely continental in its outlook? And a defensive strategy clearly defined in its operative statement: A Wall Of Iron?

    China is a ‘threat’ (quotation marks needed) because if it wasn’t, the US military’s force-building argument (esp. USN and USAF) would be weak. Well, it is weak: with a military budget bigger than that of the next gazzilion countries and with no bluewater or air-combat threats of any credibility, we do not need the size navy or air force we want.

    This conversion of wants to needs is the devil of the US military and it creates this lust for threats. The Soviet Union was real. China ain’t. Sorry to let the cat out of the bag…

  • Byron

    So should we just get rid of the Navy and go with the Coast Guard? I’m just a civilian, but I always thought intel provided you capabilities, not intentions. And for that matter, there was a Proceedings article a few years ago where the PLAN admiral in charge flat out said his area of control would encompass one of our states.

  • Sam Kotlin

    Admirals say a lot of silly things…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “China is a ‘threat’ (quotation marks needed) because if it wasn’t, the US military’s force-building argument (esp. USN and USAF) would be weak. Well, it is weak…. no bluewater or air-combat threats of any credibility, we do not need the size navy or air force we want…”

    —-Said Baldwin and Chamberlain to the Conservative MP from Essex in the 1930s regarding some different threats…..

  • Sam Kotlin

    “-Said Baldwin and Chamberlain to the Conservative MP from Essex in the 1930s regarding some different threats…..” Dunno. Before my time. But I’m sure the situation was identical. And directly on point.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “But I’m sure the situation was identical. And directly on point.”

    See? Was that so hard to admit?

  • Byron

    Sam, the worst navy you can have is the one you didn’t build in time. Learned that one 12/7/41 the hard way.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    To be fair to Sam, it will behoove the USN to examine the kind of Navy it is building. The PLAN does not need global reach, but regional hegemony.

    Is the counter to that potential regional threat, and is the answer for the mission of forward presence a very high cost/low density fleet of superships that run into the billions per copy?

    It could very well prove true that the Navy being contemplated is both too small AND too expensive. The same could be said for the USAF, in many ways.

    But as has been pointed out in other blogs here, some believe the cultures of “Flattop/AEGIS uber alles” have not been favorable to building the right Navy.

    Any opinions on that?

  • crackerjacks

    the chicoms was bragging to Admiral Keating that when they(chicoms) get their aircraft carrriers they will take west of Hawaii and the USA can have the east of Hawaii…

    the only thing the chicoms respect and understands is power and it flows from the barrel of a gun…

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    “Is the counter to that potential regional threat, and is the answer for the mission of forward presence a very high cost/low density fleet of superships that run into the billions per copy?”

    Well put, URR. Secretary Gates has been fond of advocating for the armed forces we need now, not what we will need for some future conflict. In an Army context, COIN over Future Combat System.

    Trouble is, in a Naval context, what we build right now will be what we have if a fight comes in 20, 30, or 50 years. And then whoever has the job will have to say, “You go to war with the [Navy] you have.” Officials are definitely between a rock and a hard place: current leaders will be damned if they spend the money now, future leaders will be damned if a needed capability isn’t there. I suppose that’s why we (notionally) respect them so much – they have the moral courage to make an unpopular decision…which is what we desperately need with respect to shipbuilding.

  • Sam Kotlin

    Actually, the US went into WW-II with the Navy it had. Roosevelt managed to get a good number of warships on the building ways before the war started and it wasn’t until ’43 that we started to see ships into the fleet from a post-Pearl Harbor surge.

    Roosevelt biggest obstacle to building up the nation’s military were the isolationists in the Republican Party; in a word, conservatives. One could try to point out the irony of that, now that we have these Republicans screaming for more defense. But that would fly in the face of the Cold War history, in which Democratic presidents (including Carter) increased defense spending and the R presidents drew it down, all the while acting hawkish (yes, Reagan raised defense spending … until he lowered it).

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “in which Democratic presidents (including Carter) increased defense spending and the R presidents drew it down, all the while acting hawkish (yes, Reagan raised defense spending … until he lowered it).”

    A gathering of facts that don’t tell the truth. Carter had little choice but to raise defense spending after Democratic Congresses had gutted US military capabilities, particularly in the Army. We were close to the tipping point in Europe vis-a-vis the Soviets. Also, with the double digit inflation, raw numbers trended upward.

    Under Reagan, once the substantial capital procurement of new systems was winding down, the budget dropped even though O&M budgets rose significantly.

  • Sam Kotlin

    Reagan ran out of budget in ’85. Nixon milked defense money shamelessly. Defense spending (constant dollars) in this time frame plots like a classic sine curve, bottoming at the point when Carter was elected. The curve from that point through the Reagan tip-over is uncannily smooth and regular. Carter may be a bozo for other reasons, but he pumped defense every year.

    The affect of congressional action on defense totals is tiny, usually less than 1% delta against the budget originally submitted by the president. The puts and takes at the program level may be significant, but overall totals track what the president asks for.

    In the current time, defense spending will be an exercise in the allocation of scarcity. Cries for increases are pure folly and the decreases may have to be dramatic/draconian. However, the risk is pretty slight. We still spend a gigantic amount against any potential adversary and have by far the largest and most capable Navy … with no genuine threat in existence.

    One can find glimpses of the real issues above and in some other discussions. I would name 4 necessary actions for the Navy: kill over-priced programs built to Cold War requirements; better balance Service shares to increase our small-wars/violent peace capabilities (i.e., lower Navy funding); overhaul and reform our corps of line officers to shift focus away from the three traditional warfare communities and towards current and future mission needs; and shift our explicit maritime strategy from one designed to justify force-building to one aimed at strategic utility and employment.

  • FOD Detector

    China is a ‘threat’ (quotation marks needed) because if it wasn’t, the US military’s force-building argument (esp. USN and USAF) would be weak. Well, it is weak: with a military budget bigger than that of the next gazzilion countries and with no bluewater or air-combat threats of any credibility, we do not need the size navy or air force we want.

    ‘Zactly.

    Every service branch needs its boogeyman. China is the USN’s.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    FOD, seems according to you, every threat is a bogeyman.

    Sam, there’s an excellent book by JL Gaddis called “Strategies of Containmment” published in the early 70s, I think, that outline what is behind a good deal of the “sine wave” between 1945 and 1970. I disagree in many respects with your Nixon/Reagan assertions, but there is some substantial validity to your summation of Navy actions. Substituting, of course, “Cold War requirements” with “defense contractor desires/Navy rice-bowl druthers”.

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    Sam, I think a point on which we can agree is your assertion that the Navy needs to focus on “strategic utility and employment.” Let me refine my position: China is clearly building a stronger Navy, but I am not a strategic bombast that advocates a new 600-ship Navy.

    It’s likely that the right mix of ships could be achieved under a lower budget. I am all for incorporating the cost effiencies in the acquisitions process that most taxpayers expect. It is also likely that the Navy would be well served by building a good number of basic combatants with technology that we already have. In many ways, this fleet composition would be better suited to confront our current challenges as well as potential future requirements. The point we part ways is your position that tailoring the force for current and future mission needs assumes that the force will be shifted away from the three traditional Line communities.

    Navies are expensive and take a long time to develop. I freely stipulate to this as fact. That in itself is a deterrent, and maintaining a robust capability in the traditional warfare areas will ensure that we don’t have to worry about losing influence. Can we do better in a time when tax dollars are scarce – absolutely. Would you be willing to accept a fleet centered around low-cost combatants built using commercial-off-the-shelf technology, perhaps funded through a reduction of one or two carrier strike group(s)?

  • Rogue

    Byron Said: I’m just a civilian, but I always thought intel provided you capabilities, not intentions.

    Intel is better at providing capabilities, but the goal is to identify intentions; a significantly more difficult task.

  • Rogue

    Excerpts from an AP report this morning…

    Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has urged Americans not to view China as an enemy but as a country offering huge economic opportunities, even though its leaders have “done some bad things in the past.”

    “I think China represents a huge opportunity for us all for the 21st century,” Rudd replied, noting it has a big part to play as “the center of global economic gravity” shifts toward the Asia-Pacific region.

    “Therefore, when you look at China in the future, I don’t think anything is to be served by simply assuming it’s all going to go bad,” Rudd said.

    He said the “smart course of action” for the United States and Australia would be to help integrate China into global political, economic and security institutions and engage Beijing on climate change.

    “Now, if China was to turn its back on that or not be responsible, the world would soon know,” Rudd said. “They’re not perfect. They’ve done some bad things in the past. But let’s look at the opportunities, rather than simply assume it’s all threat and all risk.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The rose-colored glasses are pretty thick Down Under.

    We should and will keep China engaged (see: Nixon 1972) to the extent that they will want to play, but prudence dictates that we understand them as that complex relationship of sometimes partner, sometimes competitor, sometimes rival, and sometimes future enemy.

    Engaging china in some of those security institutions is akin to allowing the fox into the hen house. Ask our Pacific Rim allies.

  • Dee Illuminati

    I was reading the blog http://opensourcegeopolitics.blogspot.com/

    There is a YouTube video there that is best watched well after lunch, note: this disclaimer that the material is disturbing is mild. The actions of the Chineese banning access to YouTube and the treatment to Tibet nationals ought to remind people in the USA that given an opportunity, with no repercussions; that we would receive the same treatment.

    The recent statements about our currency:

    “I think the Chinese are a little disingenuous to say, ‘Now isn’t it so bad that we hold all these dollars.’ They hold all these dollars because they chose to buy the dollars, and they didn’t want to sell the dollars because they didn’t want to appreciate their currency. It was a very simple calculation on their part, so they shouldn’t come around blaming it all on us.”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/03/24/volcker-china-chose-to-buy-dollars/

    Indeed, were Chinese long term strategy to include dislodging the dollar from its reserve currency status, perhaps the policy of overloading the US with debt long after it was clear that the debt was unsustainable would be a reasonable policy.

    I hope that there is a resolute response to North Korean missle ambitions, and I hope that it is executed by the USN to make clear that relations with the USA are conditional, that international conduct matters, and that the argument that trade is more important than national security is foolish.

    I hope the USN takes down a North Korean missle as a clear signal that our national security and commitment to that security via strength is not moot or missed.

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    “He said the ‘smart course of action’ for the United States and Australia would be to help integrate China into global political, economic and security institutions and engage Beijing on climate change.”

    Rogue,

    Having a strong defense capable of maintaining freedom of the seas does not preclude trying to integrate China into global institutions. I’m all in support of a mutual economic partnership and working with China to control and eventually reduce pollution. But what if that doesn’t work, for any of a multitude of factors? America has been too used to the idea that military and diplomatic avenues are an “either/or” rather than a “both/and” proposition.

  • R. M. Hayball

    American economists, business, academics, and the public at large are essentially unaware of Pax Oceana Americana 1945-date. They assume that the free, universally available, and unhindered access to the world’s oceans is the normal, timeless state of affairs in international relations and world economics, and requires neither effort, expertise, equipment or national strategy to maintain.

    This is a result of the success of the sea services of the United States in husbanding and using the sea power and sea supremacy gained in WWII. That is now eroding. Changes are in the wind, but not the changes predicted or sought by those unaware of the Pax.

  • FOD Detector

    Sadly, URR and BuffaloJack appear to be stuck in the 1970’s. Everything is framed in the context of communism v. capitalism. Cold warriors never fade away.

    The reality is China has turned a corner from which there’s no turning back; they’re well into the shift to a market economy. The belief China is seeking world domination, militarily, is absurd.

    America has been too used to the idea that military and diplomatic avenues are an “either/or” rather than a “both/and” proposition.

    Let’s see, we spend more on defense than the combined defense spending of the next 14 highest spending nations. It’s kind of breathtaking to suggest we treat defense as “either/or.”

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    From the UK’s Telegraph:

    “A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the report marked a ‘gross’ misrepresentation of facts and urged the United States to halt the annual publication.

    “‘This is a gross distortion of the facts and China resolutely opposes it,’ ministry spokesman Qin Gang told journalists in Beijing.

    “Qin Gang asked the United States to stop issuing the annual report ‘to avoid further damage to the two sides’ military relations.'”

    *****

    If China’s policy is ‘peaceful expansion,’ then why are they playing cagey about their military modernization?

  • R. M. Hayball

    FOD:

    Their game is longer and deeper. They seek first among all for the long haul, by all means likely to be effective.

    We have it for the short run and are losing our grip.

    Can we play, much less win, place, or show, for the long haul?

    Remains to be seen. Complicated, too.

  • http://buffalojack.wordpress.com buffalojack

    FOD,

    Let me address your assertions:

    1) I don’t really care what type of government China has, and I’m not interested in the United States influencing Chinese domestic affiars. That’s their business… The Communism v. Capitalism arguement is stale as well, so we agree there. Framing my argument in terms of being a Cold Warrior distracts from the real issues, to wit;

    2) Shifting to a market economy has nothing to do with increasing the likelihood for peace. I will stipulate to the possibility that trade will prevent conflict…I hope for that. But in an economically difficult time, countries (especially one’s with market economies) tend to be willing to compromise international relations to satisfy their population economically (bread and circuses). The Chinese government, like any other, is ultimately interested in perpetuating itself. Whether that is working with the U.S. or against them is another question.

    3) China has not stopped bloviating about disputed territories. In a speech connected with China’s announcement of a 20% increase in defense spending, Jiang Enzhu, the Chinese congress spokesman said “that Beijing was ‘fully prepared to repulse any adventurous activities’ – namely, any attempt formally to declare independence.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I don’t really care what type of government China has…”

    Concur. Just as Soviet Russia was more Russian than Soviet, so Red China is more Chinese than Red.

    But capitalism vs communism? Listening to Geithner, it’s a bit difficult to figure out who’s who.

  • Dee Illuminati

    As we discuss the semantics of the “framework” for the discussion we see our ‘little emporers’ behaving in a manner that almost ridicules our observation that cooperation makes much more sense than confontation. That observed and as a groundwork, why then does China make statements about an international currency? All economists discount that notion beyond sensationalism, then why does China broach the subject? From their cultural perspective why is that done? And the purchasing of the ‘distasteful’ us debt, I’m reminded of people at an all you can eat buffet heading back to get another plate, complaining, “this is the worst food I have ever tasted, so let’s go and get another plate.” Again what is being communicated? What this communicates is contempt. Contempt returned for cooperation. I think that China will be the China of acts and not our intentions. It is the cumulative acts of China in a variety of areas that demonstrate contempt, not a singular instance of it; say harrasing a naval vessel or detaining a flight crew. Collectively and seen as a whole, what would it take to constitute the concept of contempt a precursor to threat?

    It is the China of acts that we should be focused upon, collectively the posture is the little emporer syndrome or a prelude to something worse.

    http://blog.usni.org/?p=1701

    And if you looked at the video, do you expect to be treated better?

    It is as if you are wishing in one hand and

  • art chen

    Just a comment. U.S. Navy is not that transparent. What was the reason for the ship to be doing 75 mi off the Hainan island? What would the U.S. Navy do if a chinese ship were to poke around Pearl harbor?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Art,

    Is being 75 miles out at sea “poking around” Hainan? I don’t think so. That is international waters. A long way into international waters.

  • http://www.militaryairships.blogspot.com campbell

    “trade” was ongoing and profitable between U.S. and Germany/Japan just prior to WWII. The idea now that trade will forstall conflict is fallacy; already proven wrong.

    The subject is oil.

    China needs it. Where is it? Southeast asia islands. Would TAKING it bring benefit to China, and as a secondary benefit, distrupt Taiwan/Japan/SouthKorea/VietNam/Phillipenes?

    Just as Japan needed raw materials which caused it to take southeast asian waters and islands, so does a growing China. It is inevitable.

    To suppose that China would not eventually lead to hostile actions over oil, is to deny our own in the mid-east. Laughable.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Campbell,

    “Just as Japan needed raw materials which caused it to take southeast Asian waters and islands, so does a growing China. It is inevitable.”

    Well put. I was discussing yesterday the similarities to the Japanese “Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” of the early 40s, and how similar some of the aspects were.

    Interesting comment about trade, too. France’s biggest trading partner for the 12 months ending 1 July 1914? Germany. Germany’s biggest? Yep. France. Seems it didn’t prevent that little scuffle.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    From the AP yesterday evening:

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    * Print
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    TORONTO — A cyber spy network based mainly in China hacked into classified documents from government and private organizations in 103 countries, including the computers of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles, Canadian researchers said Saturday.

    The work of the Information Warfare Monitor initially focused on allegations of Chinese cyber espionage against the Tibetan community in exile, and eventually led to a much wider network of compromised machines, the Internet-based research group said.

    “We uncovered real-time evidence of malware that had penetrated Tibetan computer systems, extracting sensitive documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama,” investigator Greg Walton said.

    The research group said that while it’s analysis points to China as the main source of the network, it has not conclusively been able to detect the identity or motivation of the hackers.

    Calls to China’s Foreign Ministry and Industry and Information Ministry rang unanswered Sunday. The Chinese Embassy in Toronto did not immediately return calls for comment Saturday.

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