Pointless US Plan for China?
Image Credit: US Army

Pointless US Plan for China?


The apparent sea change in the Pacific balance of power seemed to come all at once earlier this month. And it has seen the US military scrambling to find a new tack to allow it to preserve its dominance.

For many, the most important news was perhaps also the most mundane. Economists revised downward the pace of the United States’ recovery from the recent recession, while highlighting an anticipated $1.4-trillion budget deficit for 2010—a depth of indebtedness that President Barack Obama declared ‘unsustainable.’ Meanwhile, on August 16, economists reported that China's Gross Domestic Product had outstripped Japan's in the second quarter of the current calendar year, making China for the first time the world's second-largest economy after the United States.

The same day, the US Department of Defence released its annual report on Chinese military power. The 83-page document highlighted a rising China's ‘comprehensive transformation of its military,’ including more surface warships and submarines, a rapidly expanding arsenal of ballistic missiles and an air force capable of deploying at least 500 jet fighters over the Taiwan Strait. ‘The balance of cross-Strait military forces continues to shift in the mainland’s favour,’ the report warned, as Chinese military spending increases at a rate of around 10 percent or more annually.

To address such a situation, the US military can’t depend on any additional resources, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates cautioned in a May speech. ‘American taxpayers and the Congress are rightfully worried about the deficit.’

China rises as the United States seems to stagnate. The Chinese military grows more powerful as the Americans struggle to maintain their current strength. Washington remains committed to defending Taiwan and dominating the entire Pacific, but finds its aspirations apparently at odds with reality. So, with no new money and a rival flush with cash, the best weapon the Americans can apparently propose to counter the Chinese is an idea.  

The idea is ‘AirSea Battle.’ Its name is an homage to a NATO concept from the 1980s that helped forge NATO ground and air forces capable of defeating a much larger Soviet army. AirSea Battle ‘has the potential to do for America’s military deterrent power at the beginning of the 21st century what AirLand Battle did near the end of the 20th,’ Gates said. ‘Encouraging,’ he described it as.

Some analysts share Gates' optimism. But others point out that the idea—not to mention broader US ambitions in the Pacific region—faces serious challenges.

For one, the AirSea Battle doctrine risks foundering for a lack of cash and hardware, while US-allied governments that could help compensate for the United States’ waning resources might be turned off by AirSea Battle's risky aims and aggressive overtones.

And there's a third potential problem. For all the noise and light that AirSea Battle has generated in world capitals, it's possible that the concept is actually entirely redundant.

Cold War Origins
In the 1980s, NATO ground troops in Europe stared down a Warsaw Pact army of overwhelming size. To prepare to blunt a Soviet-led attack and overcome the Warsaw Pact's numerical superiority, NATO adopted a revolutionary new idea. The AirLand Battle concept, which originated in the US Army's training command, posited that forward-deployed NATO tanks and missile-armed infantry, supported by jet fighters carrying smart munitions, could beat a larger Warsaw Pact army through aggressive counter-attacks.

James Wong
November 21, 2013 at 08:35

China must build up its military .Then and only then will it get the respect of the US.

Red China
December 1, 2012 at 11:45

No country can beat China in a war…China will collapse itself by corruption, unjust practice….History has proven China was never a world supper power, only a regional power…China will soon collapse just like bridges they built

February 21, 2012 at 22:06

extra money no. They are cesisifald as either with or without dependents no matter how many and he already has dependents. They also have eye coverage. and mental health coverage.

April 6, 2011 at 15:47


Really? What is India doing in Assam then? Why India is so keen on other’s land? Typical Indian.

January 5, 2011 at 06:35

@me – “dummest,” really? You’re going to write racist, broadsweeping, crude comments under the rubric of analysis and not even bother to get the spelling right?

November 14, 2010 at 07:19

For all of its modernization, the PLAAN is not likely to conduct an opposed amphibious landing on Taiwan. While they do have some limited capability, the assets are simply not there to invade and occupy. The assets they have built up, namely aircraft and artillery, are there to impose China’s political will and the threat alone is a heavy force towards compliance (keeping Taiwan on some length of leash). China may not truly be looking to play Marine and storm the beach, but their large numbers of fighters, bombers and ballistic missles will surely ruin Taiwan’s whole day and make you think twice. Ergo the US must prevail politically in order protect our interests with Taiwan (what are those, by the way?).
Also, this SeaAirBattle concept is a tacit admission that Navy with its carriers and air wings, doesn’t have the moxie to go after PLAAN without a little help from Air Force. That must sting the CAGs a little. And yet, what does Air Force have to help in a Sea Battle? Intel assets, CSAR, EW…can they hunt a sub? Ordinance for sea surface targets? Or is the idea we will (somehow) get bases from which our bombers can penetrate and hit China’s airfields and rocket launchers?
Lastly, all of this is armchair admiral, because if tensions and relations become so strained that we are seriously looking at a confrontation, China doesn’t even need to face us on the battlefield, then can destroy us economically at a whim, and we play right into their hand with every dollar we waste even armchairing the discussion.

September 26, 2010 at 01:10

O please, what are u smoking? China is the real villain in today’s world. China wants to dominate the world and has a penchant of taking land by inches every year of every neighbouring country. What is China doing in Gilgit-baltistan, POK, and what about Tibet???? China is like the cruel evil guy in a movie who shows a lot of muscle throughout the movie but at the end, loses all..

September 24, 2010 at 16:26

Are you made, chinese? China has never given away anything unless they lost a war and so they did quite often because they never learnt wisdom. I do not know the fate of China but I notice that average chinese who study in the US are among the dummest people I have ever seen. Arrogants, tricky, cheaters and low-levek thinking based in a unlimited ambition at any cost. This gives me a lot of hope that China will collapse before becoming a superpower. In order to be a superpower , you need responsability and followers who respect you ( not fear you). I do not see any trait of a superpower in China. I see a populous and industrious country , a important one, but not a superpower.

September 3, 2010 at 07:08

“Their War ships do not have desalination plants.”
If so, how can they sustain the escort mission in Somali for almost two years.

“Unlike Indian Navy which is a blue water navy, the Chinese Navy can only be used in Surface.”

What an Indian Bull or Cow Sh!t. How many subs does India has?

September 3, 2010 at 01:45

Yeah, go to Kaohsiung. Great idea. Why not Keelung or Taipei?

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