Defence of Taiwan

Musashi_kenshin

Well-Known Member

There's little detail on what's in the special budget, other than various types of anti-air, anti-ship and stand-off missiles, although it was said there will be more detail during the legislative budget review.

On a side note, if you add 1/5 of the special budget to the main defence budget, Taiwan would be spending just shy of $17 billion next year - or about 2.5% of GDP on defence.
 

OPSSG

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Part 3 of 6: The Taiwan factor in regional calculations

The island's ability to defend itself depends on the operational circumstances does it not?
10. One of the primary missions of Taiwan’s army would be to interdict Chinese amphibious forces in transit using its coastal defense ASCM batteries. If, however, these interdiction operations proved unsuccessful, the ROC Army would take center stage as Taiwan’s last line of defense. Taiwan’s challenging littoral geography and heavily fortified beaches would pose a severe threat to PLA forces. Recognizing a problem with the ROC Army and actually doing something to deal with that problem are two different issues, but if Taiwan does not have the recognition, its actions are never going to change enough to enable help to reach them (starting from the 45th day onwards).
(a) I hold the view — if Taiwan wants peace, proper war prep is necessary — which means proper levels of ammo, POL and consumables stocking, to keep aircraft and vehicles moving for 60 days of high intensity conflict — this is because the Taiwanese navy can’t survive in a fight with the PLA(N) for more than 7 days and it’s Air Force can’t strike at range, from day 1. If war starts, the best solution to preserve combat power is for Taiwan’s F-16Vs to fly to Japan, to escape immediate destruction, so as to give options for their government in exile.​
(b) “Taiwan needs to establish what sometimes is called an effective ‘porcupine defense,’ a defense that will allow it to defend against an adversary force until support from others would be available,” Frank Kramer, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs and now an Atlantic Council expert, said in a briefing on how to secure the Taiwan Strait. “Taiwan actually needs to do better than it has done historically; it is improving recently.” I am glad that Taiwan is finally upgrading its SEAD capabilities by purchasing the most modern HARM missile the U.S. has available for export; the AGM-88E.​
(c) Key to bolstering Taiwan’s defenses is securing critical infrastructure such as fuel, water and energy from cyber attacks and other supply chain interference, Kramer said. And that goes for both Taiwan and the United States, he made clear, since Taiwan must hold until US and allied forces can come to its aid in the event of a serious attempt by China to take the island.​
(d) Please forgive my inchoate attempt, as I struggle to explain how poorly, the very clever Taiwanese are doing. They can defend Taiwan, if they really wanted to but it needs 8 to 10 years of consistent effort to build on current plans. To give you an idea of how poorly, let me cite some tank numbers from Singapore below, for contrast.​
11. Tiny Singapore’s current and modern armoured forces are twice the size of Taiwan’s future armoured force structure — the thousands of vehicles in Singapore’s 2 Active Armoured Brigades and 2 Reserve Armoured Brigades supported by 206 Leopard 2SGs, exist to slice through enemy defences like a hot knife through butter for a 300km thunder run (to seize a capital) — not only do we have larger fleet of modern armoured vehicles, I strongly suspect our war stocking levels are much higher. Tanks operate as part of an armoured warfare system. As I see it, the lack of a real Taiwanese attempt to transition to modern armoured and wheeled infantry fighting concepts, is disturbing. With coalition support, the minimum they need to execute a proper defence plan for Taiwan is 216 modern MBTs (on top of other vehicles) but they buy less than half of what they really need and even refuse to upgrade their older tanks.

(a) The first of the 108 M1A2T Abrams that Taiwan ordered from the United States will arrive in 2022 — in contrast, Germany has delivered over 206 Leopard tanks to Singapore, that are paired with our Leguan bridge layers, AEV 3 Kodiaks, Trailblazers, Bronco, Bionix II, and Hunter IFV equipped SARs.​
(b) Taiwan’s dated tank fleet consists of 480 M60A3s, 450 CM11s (modified M48 turrets mated to M60 chassis), and 250 CM12s (C11 turrets mated to M48 hulls), according to the Defense Industry Daily Web site. IMHO, Taiwan needs to upgrade 108 to 162 of its M60A3 Patton tanks to build up its combat forces. Taiwanese army generals have told Control Yuan President Chang Po-ya (張博雅) at a conference in Kinmen County on 28 June 2019 but that plan has never been approved.​
(c) The terrain in Taiwan is not suited for large tank battles, due to the numerous hills. But MBTS are needed to (i) push off light armour landing on beach heads; (ii) dominate the ground fight in urban areas; and (iii) for control the axis of advance and retreat. A single M1A2T battalion (supported by equal numbers of infantry in IFVs or 8x8s), is very useful within a division sector, when it’s 3 tank companies are correctly employed.​
(d) Taiwan needs 4 modern tank battalions (at least 216 M1A2T Abrams tanks) of its own to be augmented another 3 tanks battalions comprising of their older M60A3s (that should be upgraded, when budget permits). Having heavy forces deployed in 4 divisional sectors reduces the tactical options available to the PLA and forces them to be aviation centric (i.e. for the PLA to over rely on Harbin Z-19, also called WZ-19).​

12. I am glad that:

(a) 11 M142 HIMARS launchers and 64 ATACMSs;​
(b) AGM-84H SLAM-ER missiles and the Coastal Defense Harpoon truck-mounted (anti-ship missile system); and​
(c) MS-110 multispectral airborne airborne reconnaissance pods,​

were cleared for export to Taiwan in late 2020. As this will enable Taiwan to hit the ships or assembly areas in China before the PLA(N) can attempt to disgorge the PLA vehicles. Taiwan has terrain that favours the defender and if the Control Yuan are not idiots; their Parliament would do the minimum and fund the upgrade of 162 M60s, like what Turkish government did to keep their fleet relevant (when they selected the Sabra Mk II) — the Turkish Sabra Mk II contract was estimated to be worth US$688 million was signed in 2002. If Taiwan can’t afford the upgrade, it is fine to retire the entire CM-11 and CM-12 fleets provided, they have placed an order for over 216 M1A2T Abrams (because that’s the minimum they need).

If American assistance was not forthcoming and Taiwan was subjected to an intense and prolonged air, sea and cyber attack then over time China's sheer weight of numbers, plus other key advantages it has will wear Taiwan down.
13. For American and Japanese military assistance to arrive in sufficient numbers, Taiwan needs to buy time for these foreign reinforcements to arrive — assuming that ports and airports remain functional and that these heavy forces can have the support of the navy to fight their way there (by sea), in the face of PLA(N)’s submarine fleet. Basic prudence means that Taiwan needs to stock up enough ammo to fight for at least 42 to 60 days (on their own), given that Taiwan has a navy that can’t fight.
(a) The Taiwanese depend on the USN and JMSDF to defend their SLOCs. Taiwan hopes that the US will use its military superiority in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf regions to go after China’s economic lifelines there. Taiwan also hopes that U.S. attack submarines, long-range bombers, and other stealth aircraft based in Guam and Japan will be used to deter an amphibious landing. China gets half or more of its energy from the broader Persian Gulf and African theaters, so its vulnerability here is great.​
(b) "What's happening in Taiwan is directly linked to Japan," Defence Minister Kishi said, noting the island sits astride his country's "energy lifeline. 90% of energy that Japan uses is imported through the areas around Taiwan," Nobuo Kishi said. It's a vulnerability that Tokyo has to mitigate.​
 

ngatimozart

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I watched this discussion last night which was with Australian Senator Jim Molan who is a well respected retired Australian Army General Officer. At around the 32 minute mark he talks about a possible Chinese attack plan against the US. He states earlier in the discussion that China's strategic plan is to force the Americans out of the Western Pacific. Until they do that it would be a huge strategic blunder for the Chinese to invade Taiwan because the Americans could still cause a lot of hurt to them.

The Chinese aren't stupid and they know that they have to force the Americans out past the Second Island Chain, preferably the Third Island Chain. They also know that they have to eliminate American bases within the First and Second Island Chains as well as at Diego Garcia: and have to achieve surprise in doing it. So Jim Molan suggests, and I agree, that the Chinese will use a variation of the Imperial Japanese war plan for the December 1941 attacks on America and the allies. This time it will do what the IJN failed to do and that is sink the USN flattops in the Pacific. At present the USN has one CBG and one ARG in the Pacific and if they succeed in eliminating both of those and all of the American bases inside both of the island chains, the Americans would not be able to operate surface or air assets within the First and Second Island Chains with any strength until they can move other naval and air assets from the Middle East, Mediterranean and Atlantic. It would take approximately six months for all of the assets to be in place including training etc.

During that six months, the Chinese can invest Taiwan at their leisure without the fear of interference by third party hostile forces. By the time that the American and allied forces can do anything about it, she's all over rover and the executions have begun. I honestly do not think that the US will threaten or use nuclear weapons over Taiwan. However I would not bet the farm on it either.

 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
While it’s difficult to critique someone with the experience and knowledge of a seasoned professional like Jim Molan, there are a few things that seem to be “missing” from his analysis, or at least things I’d like to see clarified. For example:

- The idea that the ADF wouldn’t last more than a few days in a “real fight” needs some context – I’m just not sure what he means by this. Does this mean little old Australia taking on the PRC all by our lonesome? Because if that’s the case I don’t know if we could ever improve upon that meaningfully without completely upending our national expenditure habits for the express purposes of defence.

- If the PRC was successful in nullifying the US presence in the West Pacific (in a Pearl Harbour style surprise attack), this would not necessarily eliminate its ability to project power into the region, even in the short term. At worst, US strategic airpower and submarines could still continue to harass and inflict losses upon the PLAN in particular until the “6 month later” cavalry arrived.

- Such a large scale attack on bases across the region would surely trigger the involvement of countries like South Korea and Japan, whose own air and naval capabilities are considerable in their own right. Molan didn’t really acknowledge their role or even their existence here.

- This is significant, because from our POV I suspect such a confrontation would involve a race to cripple and/or sink as much of the PLAN as possible. Without its naval power the PRC would be hard-pressed to exert the dominance it sought in the wider region, requiring years to reconstitute itself, not just the 6 months it would take for the US to mobilise properly. Even now, the PLAN’s amphibious capability is fledgling, if rapidly growing. I have to wonder how long it could stand up to sustained abuse from Japanese, South Korean and American sea and airpower, especially given the latter’s capacity to deliver large salvos of AGM158 variants from standoff distances via strategic bombers operating from CONUS.

- I do agree that we need a cohesive and coherent national security strategy that looks at the whole range of threats now facing us. Building an ADF able to last the 6 months it took for the US to arrive in the region after such a heavy blow seems like an intuitive starting point, but there is surely more study warranted here. The questions that to spring to mind are: “what would that force look like?”, “could we even afford it?” and “in what timeframe?".

- It may be equally foolhardy and rearward looking to prepare to re-fight the WW2 Pacific campaign when both major combatants are nuclear powers that don’t even rely exclusively on kinetic means to cause harm to their adversaries. How this alters the calculus I have no idea, but assuming that China and the US would go toe to toe kinetically for months or even years without ever facing that nuclear threshold seems odd. It would certainly be unprecedented – how many other nuclear powers have clashed for so long and so violently without someone pointing to the big red button?

Just my 2c…
 

spoz

The Bunker Group
I wonder if Jim is aware that the USN bases four carriers in the Pacific, and that transit time from the east coast for one (or for an SSN) to Hawaii is about three weeks? Plus of course any such attack gets them into WW3, with the gloves off. Can you imagine the reaction of the US public (and the rest of the world) to a new Pearl Harbour?

Their prime focus is the dominance of the CCP (not China as a nation) and I rather suspect they would, at least for the next ten to 15 years, see that as way too much of a gamble.
 

StingrayOZ

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Staff member
Jim is being a bit theatrical, but the core tenants are there. Carriers aren't active all the time, the US is spread thin and globally, the US would take time to react. China's first step isn't to invade Taiwan. Its a very simplistic playout, for public audiences, not the summary of a finely detailed report. Jim, doesn't even know what a Cyber attack would look like, it is a domain he is completely unfamiliar with, he openly acknowledges that.

His argument is that there may be a time where the US isn't the pre-eminent super power in the Pacific. And Australia could do a lot more to defend itself. He gives Israel as an example, another could be Singapore. John gives the point our economy is the size of Russias. He also points out that we aren't the main game. This isn't China dedicating all its resources to fight Australia, that will never happen.

Few more counter points in the realm of friendly discussion and only from my view and opinion.

South Korea - Sorry, these guys are going to be totally locked in with North Korea to do anything, even if there is no conflict on the peninsula (unlikely) there will be some sort of uneasy deadlock. They won't be sending forces south to help with Taiwan and certainly not into Chinese airspace to attack targets in China. Its likely US bases will be targeted, even if its only to mission kill airstrips etc. IMO I think they are likely to take heavy damage early on and essentially be out early. NK has essentially prepared its entire life for this mission.

Japan - Somewhat like South Korea, but in a slightly better position. They will be out trying to secure their own air and sea and be struggling with that. China can easily keep them occupied with random hit and run attacks. China has enough resources to tie them up with that. There is a timeframe where they can be helpful, as the fight moves past them, they can then follow the front. But initially it will be very messy.

While the US has a lot of smart munitions, its not a whole lot to take on a peer like China.. 2000 JASSM is nothing in the big scheme of things. How many HQ-9 does China have? thousands? How many potential sites are there? How hardened and protected are they? What was the total tonnage dropped on Vietnam? How effective was that? It will take time if you are going to just snipe off from stand off ranges. The US no longer has those mid cold war stockpiles of weapons, and modern weapons are slow and expensive to build. In a big exchange, munitions will be depleted very quickly. We must be able to source our own.

Australia could do more. We are very much in a traditional mind set. We haven't really "increased capabilities" just modernized. We don't have the aircraft carrier we had back in the 1970's. We Don't have the F-111 bombers we had. These weren't replaced on a like for like basis. Not only has the opposition caught up technologically, we, and the US as well, has slid backwards, from even where we were 20 or 30 years ago.

Even across allies. Compare 1970 South Korea and Australia to 2020 South Korea and Australia. The Koreans had a 2020 plan which they put into place in the late 1990's.

We aren't in terrible shape, but we aren't ready, and haven't been acquiring platforms like we realistically expect high end peer to peer warfare.
 

ngatimozart

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@spoz The Chinese attacking American bases inside the first two island chains is going to kick off a monumental war and the Chinese know that. They aren't fools. They are also well versed in rocketry and missiles. They just have to keep the Americans out beyond the second island chain for six months in order to invest Taiwan, and fully cement their control of the first two island chains.

They know that they will have to take on both South Korea and Japan. They believe that they are quite capable of handling both nations and WRT South Korea a North Korean threat of an attack across the DMZ or an actual attack and the inability of American support and reinforcement will give the Blue House pause for concern. With Japan a combined Chinese and Russian threat to Japan will also give the Japanese pause for concern. They could probably cause consequences damage to the PLA if it was a single front war, but if they had to face off a Russian threat, real or implied, in their northern area, then they will be in a real quandary.

Don't forget it was Stalin's Soviet forces entering the war against Japan on the 9th August 1945 that really drove the stake through the heart of Imperial Japanese resistance because they were now fighting a foe as implacable as the Americans and one they feared for the 4 years that they had been fighting in the Pacific and South East Asia. The Russians had already given them a hiding in a border conflict when IIRC General Zhukov introduced the IJA Kwantung Army to the delights of Soviet artillery followed by tank and infantry instruction. Yes the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear weapons attacks did a considerable amount to end the war, but it is the Soviet Union entry into the Pacific War coupled with the Nagasaki attack that drove the stake into the heart of Japanese resistance. The Soviet attack was the stake and the Nagasaki attack the hammer.

The Russians and Japanese still haven't reached agreement on Japanese territory that the Russians seized in 1945 and have refused to return to Japan. IIRC it is only in recent times that the Japanese and the Russians have signed a peace treaty formalyformally ending the war between them. So all of this history will plaplay into the considerations of the Chinese strastrategic planning and the Japanese response to any Chinese ultimatum.
 

Arclighy

Member
Interesting to note that not too long after the AUKUS announcement, China lodged its formal application to join the 'Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)'. The application was lodged with a letter to New Zealand's Trade Minister, Damien O'Connor. I understand NZ is the depository nation for the CPTPP. According to reports China did lobby Australia as well (ABC). Interesting timing though.
 

ngatimozart

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Interesting to note that not too long after the AUKUS announcement, China lodged its formal application to join the 'Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)'. The application was lodged with a letter to New Zealand's Trade Minister, Damien O'Connor. I understand NZ is the depository nation for the CPTPP. According to reports China did lobby Australia as well (ABC). Interesting timing though.
Yes the timing is interesting although there have been rumours about it over the last year or so. NZ is the Depository State and Japan the Chair State. IIRC any new applicant has to obtain approval from all the member states. So one State can blackball a new applicant. Any new applicant must also agree to and abide by the rules of the CPTTP. There China will have problems because it now has a history of breaking previous agreements and treaties that it has signed and ratified. I think that there will be some nations within the CPTTP who will not want China within the agreement and I don't blame them. Personally I think that it wouldn't be a wise move admitting them.
 

Musashi_kenshin

Well-Known Member
There would certainly be challenges regarding the ROK and Japan, but I'm a bit more glass half-full than half-empty.

North Korea is in a terrible shape economically and statements from the Chubby One earlier this year suggests it's facing another food/medical crisis. He's tried economic reforms and they haven't really helped. Even with the military being prioritised for spending that's going to impact the fighting ability of NK forces - starving and ill teenagers don't make for good recruits. When you factor in South Korea's technological advantage in all three branches of the military (bar WMDs), it makes it hard for North Korea to go on the offensive and pin the South down.

Also given the dire situation North Korea is in and China's disinterest in bailing the Chubby One out, it's quite possible Pyongyang wouldn't get involved. But even if it did, I think South Korea could maintain a defensive position and still have naval/forces to help secure that flank with China.

As for Japan, I think they have more leeway. I'm not convinced that Russia would seek to tie significant amounts of Japanese forces down by actual or threatened attacks. Russia wouldn't benefit from China taking over Asia and if anything might feel threatened by the current balance of power being upended. Certainly they don't want to turn into the vassal state of a dominant Chinese superpower. I think Russia would benefit more from staying neutral and seeing China lose, potentially being able to increase its influence in the aftermath.

I think that there will be some nations within the CPTTP who will not want China within the agreement and I don't blame them. Personally I think that it wouldn't be a wise move admitting them.
It's up to CPTPP members, but I doubt China would be allowed in anytime soon. It has an ongoing trade dispute with Australia, keeps threatening Japan militarily and has kidnapped Canadian citizens. Factor in the prospect of the UK joining next year, Australia now apparently seeing China as a real threat rather than just a competitor and Beijing's contempt for the sort of rules at the heart of CPTPP, I just can't see how China can get around all of that. The fact the application was filed so soon after the AUKUS announcement suggests to me this was mostly a diplomatic move to try to maintain Chinese influence in the region.

EDIT: Foreign Policy came to a similar conclusion. I found the article interesting as I wasn't aware Trump's new Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement had a notification mechanism if the parties wanted to enter into FTA discussions with "nonmarket economies" (read China), and that following that the others could pull out. Gives Washington an extra card to play to stop China getting inside CPTPP.
 

ngatimozart

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@Musashi_kenshin WRT the US stopping the PRC getting into the CPTPP it cannot because it's not a member and hasn't submitted an application to join yet.

WRT to Russia being involved, I have given that more thought and believe that Putin would take the opportunity to settle some scores and advance his dream to being Tsar Vladimir, Emporer of All the Russias. That would mean the old Russian empire as it stood in 1914, plus whatever else he could lay his hands on. With the US fully engaged in the Pacific, it wouldn't have the capability to thwart his ambitions in Europe. Iran would also be emboldened to act upon its ambitions within the Middle East without fear of US involvement. This would be a situation that the CCP would definitely encourage with both Mosco and Tehran.

The beauty about it is that militarily the US wouldn't be able to do anything about it. It no longer can fight and win two wars at the same time. It would struggle to win one war against a near peer enemy. IIRC it has lost 30 - 50% of equivalent capability to that which it had at the end of the Cold War. It has relatively few new platforms and capabilities in service. There is a culture of no or low risk, everything by the book and the numbers within the militarily leadership and the leadership micromanage everything. There is no overarching strategy for the military to follow from the political leadership. So the US has big management problems that have been impacting upon their military and political ability to win wars. They haven't won many lately. If I was a better man, which I am not really, in such a contest I wouldn't be wasting my money placing a bet on the US to win.
 

Musashi_kenshin

Well-Known Member
@Musashi_kenshin WRT the US stopping the PRC getting into the CPTPP it cannot because it's not a member and hasn't submitted an application to join yet.
I mean indirectly via putting pressure on Mexico and Canada, hence reference to the Trump agreement and the "poison pill clause".

WRT to Russia being involved, I have given that more thought and believe that Putin would take the opportunity to settle some scores and advance his dream to being Tsar Vladimir, Emporer of All the Russias. That would mean the old Russian empire as it stood in 1914, plus whatever else he could lay his hands on.
That sounds an awful lot like invading the Baltics and starting World War III. Not sure what Putin has to gain from that. He's already fixed the election system so he can't lose, and public opinion of him is in a poor state such that I doubt him joining China in attacking the world would go down well with the public.

The US would be busy but Europe would still be in a position to respond.

I don't think China wants World War III, if anything it wants the opposite, a localised conflict where it can predict the outcome via quick wins. A global war would have a completely unpredictable outcome.
 

ngatimozart

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I mean indirectly via putting pressure on Mexico and Canada, hence reference to the Trump agreement and the "poison pill clause".

That sounds an awful lot like invading the Baltics and starting World War III. Not sure what Putin has to gain from that. He's already fixed the election system so he can't lose, and public opinion of him is in a poor state such that I doubt him joining China in attacking the world would go down well with the public.

The US would be busy but Europe would still be in a position to respond.

I don't think China wants World War III, if anything it wants the opposite, a localised conflict where it can predict the outcome via quick wins. A global war would have a completely unpredictable outcome.
Are you aware of the Russian term maskirovka? It is the principle of subterfuge first established in the Soviet Red Army but which the current Russian armed forces maintain. The chief features of maskirovka are plausible deniability, concealment of forces, disinformation and decoys. Source.

It is something that the Russians are very good at and as events in the Ukraine have shown they do it successfully. Putin and most of Russia regard the three Baltic states as part of Holy Mother Russia, just as the Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus is. Don't underestimate Putin's determination to recover "lost" territories. Remember also that Putin is rearming Russia and upgrading its capabilities.

The Europeans would have a lot of trouble facing down the Russians in an all out war without American help. They admit it themselves and they have to sort their differences out and form a EU force which is properly funded, equipped and sustained. They only have one nuclear power now in France and it is up to it and Germany to get this force up and running. I think that the aim should be for it to replace NATO as the main European defence organisation., with NATO taking an ancillary role.

WRT China do you really know what the CCP wants? You are looking at it through a foreign western lens and not through its lens and worldview. That's a problem many have with analysing the PRC, Russia, Iran etc. They presume that the other has the same worldview, thinks, and acts like they do; whereas in reality it is far from so. The Americans certainly don't "get" that with the Poms and Aussies having a slightly better understanding. The French don't, but like the Americans and Spanish they never have. They have there own version of maskirovka, except they have perfected it over a couple of millennia. They were at it before the ancestors of the founders of Rus had left their Viking homeland to raid the tribes to the east.

I wouldn't underestimate the CCP ability or possible requirement to move to evict the Americans from both the First and Second Island Chains. The first and foremost concern of the CCP is to remain in power at all costs. Everything else is subservient to that. They are facing economic headwinds domestically, some of which are the results of their own ineptitude, and they have to divert the populations dissatisfaction away from the Party towards another direction. Foreign adventures are always a favourite tool and in recent times the CCP has stoked the nationalistic fires of the population. The other point is that in the last eight years it is reverting to a Maoist repressive regime, except this time around it is very well armed, the second largest economy in the world, hi tech, and uses 21st Century surveillance technologies to monitor and control its population.

Whether or not it is a true communist state is subject to debate, with some commentators suggesting that the Xinjiang concentration camps, the Han racial superiority policies, upper echelons cadre wealth, and the levels of corruption, are showing that the CCP has changed to be more of a national socialist party rather than a genuine communist party.

So I would caution making claims that you believe that they won't want to kick off WW3, because we don't know the mindset of the Standing Committee or the Central Military Commission. However we do know what their aims and goals are and they haven't been exactly shy about it either. In this case we have to prepare for the worse and hope for the best.
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
OPSSG,

Thank you for the informative post on the challenges faced by Taiwan, together with the references / comparisons to Singapore.

Anyone wanting to help Taiwan would indeed have to fight their way in but the Americans are fairly close already and the PLA would also have to allocate resources in in other parts of the Pacific. Also, unless open hostilities were already declared the Chinese might not target U. S. or ships from other nations which are on their way to Taiwan but are not yet in a state of hostilities with the Chinese.

Personally I feel the possibility of an actual PLA amphibious operation is for from certain and that this highly risky undertaking, even if it succeeds in landing, is fraught with danger for the PLA. Taiwanese forces would still be able to deploy in strength and speed to prevent the PLA from expanding its beachheads.

A more likely scenario I see would be for the PLA to conduct a massive air and blockade of the island in conjunction with a concentrated air, ballistic/cruise missile attack, as well as a EW and cyber one to obtain the needed political and military results, without neccesarily having to invade the island and drawing Uncle Sam in.

On the issue of morale and mass surrenders on the part of Taiwanese forces maybe but if things don't go well for PLA forces on the island, how long will their morale last?

On the subject if armour, what in your opinion is behind the lack of urgency in improvements? Is it because the Taiwanese feel that focus should be on acquiring and improving the ability to prevent a cross Straits crossing or making it as costly as possible, rather than dealing with one in the event it succeeds?
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
It is something that the Russians are very good at and as events in the Ukraine have shown they do it successfully. Putin and most of Russia regard the three Baltic states as part of Holy Mother Russia, just as the Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus is. Don't underestimate Putin's determination to recover "lost" territories.
We can also assume the Chinese are good at "deception" both at a strategic and operational level.

On the Baltics, not only are they ethnicily not Russian as you're aware but apart from being part of the Soviet Union after they were annexed as part of the Non Aggression Pact with Germany, for much of their history they actually had a deeper connection with Germany and Poland. Is it your belief that occupying the Baltic states remains a long term Russian goal? Also, I'm aware of Russian sentiment towards Belarus and the Ukraine [strategic space space plays a major part, coloured by the WW2 experience] but I had no idea any attachment was felt towards Georgia.
 

OPSSG

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Part 4 of 6: The Taiwan factor in regional calculations

Anyone wanting to help Taiwan would indeed have to fight their way in...

Personally I feel the possibility of an actual PLA amphibious operation is for from certain and that this highly risky undertaking, even if it succeeds in landing, is fraught with danger for the PLA. Taiwanese forces would still be able to deploy in strength and speed to prevent the PLA from expanding its beachheads.
14. If grey-zone activity, rather than outright invasion, is China’s preferred approach to achieving ‘reunification’, Taiwan’s defence strategies, and not only its tactics, will need to be more immediately responsive to up-to-the-minute intelligence and analyses. Put another way, the defence of the island perhaps no longer entails simply determining the when and where of an invasion, but requires an evolving and dynamic understanding of what counts as warfare, and how it may be prosecuted. The possibility of an actual PLA amphibious invasion is low (less than 5% chance) — it is an operation that is inherently risky — with the possibility of failure. But this should not excuse the ROC’s grossly inadequate war prep, as shown in the above video — as a defence forum we need to understand the difference between Taiwanese propaganda and actual military capability.

15. In a Sankei newspaper opinion column via Japan Forward, Yoji Koda, a retired commander of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Forces (JMSDF), warned of “devastating consequences” if the country did not prepare itself for a potential conflict involving Taiwan and China. On the one hand, I suspect that Taiwan’s Army will fight for between 11 to 21 days (before we see mass surrenders), even if they have hit IOC with the 108 modern MBTs they just ordered. On the other hand, if the Americans manage to deploy:

(a) the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade;​
(b) a further 108 to 162 MBTs, along with the same amount of Bradley IFVs (and defended by NASAMS, with a 25km range); and​
(c) the HIMARS battalions from 17th Field Artillery Brigade,​

before the start of hostilities to reinforce Taiwan and concurrently, the Japanese deploy 12,000 personnel and 3,900 vehicles from two GSDF divisions, in the 1st wave — I believe that any PLA attempt to invade is doomed to fail. If you have the right mix of forces, and have enough ammo, the defender can bleed any attacker endlessly. Part of this reinforcement plan was shown at exercise Orient Shield 21-2, that was held in Japan.

16. We need to keep in mind that the PLA rocket force (PLARF) has expanded by over 33% and taken important steps to streamline its support structure. Since 2017, scattered case elements responsible for missile storage, maintenance, transport, and loading have been pulled into a single unified regiment, improving logistical efficiency and coordination. A second unit has unified launch support functions such as meteorology, survey and mapping, engineering, and physical security. These seemingly mundane reforms to the PLARF’s support system play a critical role in ensuring that missiles get to their deployment sites, launch successfully, and accurately hit their targets

17. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of US Military Strength, found that the US military would be able to handle itself adequately in a single major regional conflict while maintaining smaller operations around the globe, but its “marginal” capabilities mean America would struggle if forced to take on a second major conflict at the same time.
(a) The 2021 report can be read here. “If you’re a European country, you have finally gotten serious in your intellectual awareness of the challenge Russia presents. If you’re South Korea and Japan, you’ve had to get serious about what to do with China,” Dakota Wood said. “Recognizing a problem and actually doing something to deal with that problem are two different issues, but if you don’t have the recognition, your actions are never going to change.”​
(b) Asking the 82nd airborne division (light infantry), to jump into Taiwan on C-17s after hostilities have started, is a waste of good men, when they can be more effective securing islands in the 1st and 2nd island chains along with the US Marines. To fight the PLA, it’s going to take 4 to 5 years of hard fighting in a full court press.​

18. I would assume that the PLA is going to have to attack, Guam, and American bases in Japan concurrently, if they want to invade Taiwan. For an American President to waste forces with strategic mobility in the 1st 3 months of a 4 year war like that is unforgivable. America does not need to only fight a Taiwan invasion in that island. Instead, they can choke off China’s SLOCs from the 1st and 2nd island chains.

A more likely scenario I see would be for the PLA to conduct a massive air and blockade of the island in conjunction with a concentrated air, ballistic/cruise missile attack, as well as a EW and cyber one to obtain the needed political and military results, without neccesarily having to invade the island and drawing Uncle Sam in.
19. Agreed. In Aug 2021, Russia’s defense minister hailed joint war games with China as a sign of increasingly close military cooperation that should expand further. China and Russia are actively planning for crisis just below the threshold of all out war.
(a) Sergei Shoigu flew to China to attend the drills that wrapped up in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. “We have achieved a high level of cooperation between our militaries on land, in the air and at sea,” Shoigu said during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, “Expanding it is an important part of our future activities.” The Russian military sent several Su-30SM fighters and a motorized infantry unit to take part in the maneuvers. Shoigu noted that the exercise marked the first time that Russian troops had taken part in joint drills on the territory of China, adding that it reflected a “new level” of military cooperation, to the benefit of regional and global stability.​
(b) There are many scenarios where a miscalculation in Korea, can trigger a joint Chinese-Russian response in the skies and seas near Taiwan. For example, the 1962 Sino-Indian War occurred when America was distracted during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The PLA showed great acumen in carefully executing the campaign according to the guidelines formulated by CCP Central Military Commission:​
(i) “to beat Indian troops soundly,” and​
(ii) “to wipe out the invading Indian forces totally and rapidly.”​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 5 of 6: The Taiwan factor in regional calculations

(c) According to PLA records from archives, Indian casualties during the war were 4,897 killed or wounded and 3,968 captured. The Indian Defense Ministry, in 1965, showed 1,383 Indian soldiers killed, 1,696 missing in action, 3,968 soldiers captured, and 1,047 soldiers wounded. Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel (2003) explains the key points to note on this CCP victory:​

We can also assume the Chinese are good at "deception" both at a strategic and operational level.
(d) Similar to PLA planning and literature on Taiwan, the 1962 Sino-Indian War had 3 key success factors:​
First, the 1962 Sino-Indian War placed emphasis on sudden attacks to catch the enemy unprepared. That is, the PLA values surprise. In 2021, the PLA(AF) flew 38 military aircraft into Taiwan's ADIZ, making it the largest number of daily sorties on record. Threatening? Of course. It is so routine that the PLA does not bother faking excuses anymore.​

Second, PLA tactics emphasized the rapid concentration of force at decisive points to surround enemy forces and defeat them in detail.​
Third, they place importance on superior knowledge of the terrain to take advantage of difficult terrain. For example, the PLA was able to operate more effectively in deep valleys and densely forested areas, in darkness. One way that the PLA adapted quickly to the challenges posed by the terrain was to advance on parallel routes to one point of attack.​
On the issue of morale and mass surrenders on the part of Taiwanese forces maybe but if things don't go well for PLA forces on the island, how long will their morale last?
20. The Taiwanese goal at the beachhead is not to accept PLA surrender but to kill all who land. In the Oct 1949, Battle of Kinmen, of 9,086 PLA troops who landed, only 5,175 were allowed to surrender — M5A1 tanks employed on Kinmen proved to be effective in countering the initial PLA landing forces. The PLA's initial landing force of the 244th regiment at Longkou (壟口) was met by three tanks (#64, #65, #66) of the 1st platoon, 3rd company of the ROC 1st Battalion, 3rd Tank Regiment. ROC tank crews who had depleted their ammunition used their tanks as road rollers to crush PLA infantry. If Taiwan cannot kill all PLA troops who land, they have to conduct a fighting retrograde (from the PLA seeking to break-out of the beachhead).

On the subject if armour, what in your opinion is behind the lack of urgency in improvements? Is it because the Taiwanese feel that focus should be on acquiring and improving the ability to prevent a cross Straits crossing or making it as costly as possible, rather than dealing with one in the event it succeeds?
21. Lack of realistic war scenario planning and a budget smaller than the minimum needed. Michael Mazza, an Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute, believes the US should consider changing the conditions on the American arms Taiwan buys and said: “We think it’s time to rethink the Pentagon security assistance program for Taiwan. Right now, Taiwan pays for every defense article the United States transfers to it. But going forward, we should consider whether we can use the prospect of military aid as a means to encourage Taiwan to invest more in its own defense, in particular in certain capabilities where they may be under invested.” In contrast, a PLA(N), carrier battle group is heavily armed, with about 304 cells for air defence missiles. The destroyers serving as escorts also carry numerous vertically-launched YJ-18 ASCMs, CJ-10 land attack cruise missiles, and the YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. The PLA(N)’s Yu-6 torpedo completed development in 2005 and is carried on their destroyers and frigates. At speeds of sixty-five knots, the Yu-6 is faster than the listed speeds of the Mk 48 Mod 6 ADCAP. The ships in a Chinese carrier battle group would typically consist of:
  • 1 aircraft carrier (with 26 or 32 J15s)
  • 1 Type 055, Renhai class cruiser with 112 air defence missiles
  • 2 Type 052D or 052DL Luyang III class destroyers with 64 air defence missiles on each destroyer
  • 2 Type 054A or 054A+ frigates, with 32 air defence missiles on each Jiangkai II frigate
  • a Type 901 support ship

OPSSG,

Thank you for the informative post on the challenges faced by Taiwan, together with the references / comparisons to Singapore.
22. No worries, I tried to make this Taiwan discussion interesting but focused around what their army can do to improve their capability. The Taiwanese Air Force is at least 4 times the size of the RSAF, but, yet they are just a little less capable than Singapore. The Taiwanese Navy is at least 3 times bigger that the RSN but they are much less capable in anti-air warfare (lacking Aster armed frigates), unmanned weapons warfare (lacking USVs with counter mine technology and sonar), and submarine warfare (lacking AIP equipped submarines).

23. This is a video of Taiwan is pretending that it can defend itself, by landing aircraft on a road (as part of their regular series of military exercises). In recent months, Chinese air force jets have carried out a series of drills around Taiwan which have included bombers and advanced fighter jets. Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said reiterated that the drills were routine. Right now in 2021, the PLA(N), operates 2 carriers, Liaoning (with 26 J15s) and Shandong (with 32 J15s) and a large fleet of Xian H-6 bombers armed with the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM). The danger posed by the YJ-12 comes from its range of 400 km, making it the longest-ranged ACBM ever engineered, and its ability to travel at high rates of speed (up to Mach 3). These ASCMs when launched from the air, give the PLA(N) plenty of long range strike options. Just imagine how powerful the Chinese Navy will be by 2032, when it has 3 carriers and it begins to modernise its bomber fleet. Given its large H-6J and H-6G bomber fleet, the PLA(N) is more than its carriers — each of which carries 8 YJ-12 supersonic ASCMs.

24. At the same time, PLA Taiwan invasion preparations are accelerating, mainly with the integration of civilian sea and air transport assets, and more aggressive exercises and probes. Large civilian 15,000 to 30,000 ton Roll-On-Roll-Off ferries were previously assessed to be charged with transporting the bulk of PLA armored and mechanized units to captured Taiwan ports. Now they could be equipped with special ramps to join large PLA Navy amphibious assault ships to launch amphibious armored vehicles into the water. This could triple the number of amphibious armored vehicles that can be launched against Taiwan beaches.

25. Prior to the start of WWII, the French did not just built the maginot line and called it a day. The French military expenditures as well as the equipment and formations they bought and created showed that they were still planning to fight a war. Like the French, the current Taiwanese equipment is not bad either. What is wrong is the mindset. That is leading Taiwanese war planning in wrong direction.

26. Like the French, Taiwan plans to meet the enemy with their troops in their modern maginot line. Where the Taiwanese failed to see what kind of tactics were possible by all the new PLA weapons systems and technologies which emerged. And this will break their back during their fighting retrograde, from the PLA seeking to break-out of the beachhead. Taiwan News highlighted the “exciting new developments” of Taiwan’s recent armaments, which I see as doing the minimum (in the hopes that the Americans and Japanese do not notice the lack of effort and focus).
 
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Musashi_kenshin

Well-Known Member

Some more information about the special budget.
  1. Cruise missile production from 2022 to 2024 and 2025;
  2. Chien Hsiang loitering munition production from 2022 to 2025;
  3. Longer range HF-III AShM (400km range) production from 2023 to 2026;
  4. Coastal defence and road-based launchers for the HF-I and HF-II produced from 2022 to 2026 (possibly an error as I don't see why the HF-I would be put into production);
  5. Further phases of the Tuo Jiang-class corvettes, production of phase 1 from 2022 and phase 2 from 2023, both finished in 2026;
  6. Anping coastguard vessels fitted with missiles and related equipment from 2023 to 2026;
  7. TC-2 and TK-III air defence missile production from 2022 to 2026.
I'd be surprised if numbers of units are published, but this still looks like Taiwan getting serious about missile production, especially considering the timetables involved.
 
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OPSSG

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Gap between Austin’s concept and ground reality — Part 5

17. In July 2021 (click on link to go back to part 1 of a 4 part series), where Secretary Austin gave a lecture in Singapore titled "The Imperative of Partnership" and it affirms Biden administration's position that no country can go it alone: "Our network of alliances & friendships is an unparalleled strategic asset." In his vision, integrated deterrence also means working with partners to deter coercion and aggression across the spectrum of conflict… including in the so-called “grey zone” where the rights and livelihoods of the people of Southeast Asia are coming under stress.

(a) Within AUKUS, a new three-way strategic defence alliance between Australia, the UK and US, initially to build a class of nuclear-propelled submarines, but also to work together in the Indo-Pacific region, where the rise of China is seen as an increasing threat, and develop wider technologies. In this effort, the Americans look to the Japanese and Australians for support within the Quad.​
(b) In the 2030s, the Pinoys as a country with ZERO fighters intend to operate 3 C-130Js (provided an order with Lockheed Martin is eventually signed). How much of a non-factor from this useless ally? The Pinoys drive their former US Coast Guard cutter onto a reef and take more than 3 years to repair the ship.​

19. In 1966, then Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew gave a speech on Singapore's place in the world. In his speech, he quoted a Chinese proverb: "Big fish eat small fish; small fish eat shrimps". There are different types of shrimps, he said. Some are poisonous: "If you eat them, you will get digestive upsets." Given the size of other countries and their military capabilities, Singapore was merely a shrimp in the global sea. According to him, the SAF had to at least become a poisonous shrimp. In Feb and in Sep 2021, the Chinese PLA Navy conducted joint maritime drills with Singapore’s Navy in the South China Sea, a move that, according to Chinese military commentators, boosted the two navies' mutual trust and enhanced the level of military cooperation between both countries.
(a) Despite the signing of an enhanced Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) in Oct 2019, a bilateral move that formalises activities between Singapore’s MINDEF and PLA (i.e. port calls, bilateral exercises, mutual visits and cross-attendance of courses), the military-to-military relationship between the two countries start-off from a low base — when it is compared with the Australians (as fellow FPDA members and as hosts to multiple Singaporean military bases), the Taiwanese (as hosts to multiple Singaporean military bases) or the Americans (as partners and as hosts to multiple Singaporean military bases in the US and as mil-tech technology suppliers that include, Apaches (20), Seahawks (8), F-16Vs (60), F-15SGs (40), F-35Bs (4) and tons of other military equipment).​
(b) The 2019 ADESC was signed 27 days after Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Donald Trump agreed to extend a 1990 MOU that allows American military aircraft and naval vessels to use facilities in the city state, the short interval between the two signings is likely to draw comparisons between the two deals and raise questions about Singapore's motives. A key component of Singapore’s poisonous shrimp doctrine is fostering interoperability with Australia. At the top of the list as part of the ASMTI, which the Australians describe as providing an “opportunity for Australia to build defence capability and enhance its bilateral relationship with Singapore, while providing enduring economic benefits to central and north Queensland;” further supporting this poisonous shrimp doctrine is Singapore’s participation in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FDPA) between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, which promotes closer military collaboration, integrated command and control and collective defence in the region.​
20. Singapore’s recent acceptance of the first of four Invincible Class submarines built in Germany (designed to provide the Singapore Navy with a regionally superior submarine capable of patrolling and controlling the key tactical and strategic maritime environments), ensures that Singapore has a vote in securing its SLOCs. Supporting this, the Singaporean Navy also operates 6 Formidable-class frigates, as the core of its surface combat force, with plans to replace the vintage 6 Victory-class corvettes with MRCVs and completed the introduction of the 8 new Independence class littoral mission vessels.
(a) Most recently, Singapore started the process of replacing its ageing fleet of F-16s with the short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) B variant of the F-35 to serve as the backbone of the RSAF’s future air combat capability starting with the first 4 to be delivered from 2026. This planned initial acquisition of 12 (order of 4, with an option of 8), will serve to bring the SAF in line with the United States and other key regional partners, including Australia, Japan and South Korea. While Singapore considered all variants of the F-35 platform, specific focus was placed on the specialised STOVL B variant given the geographic realities of Singapore.​
(b) The Singaporean Army has some qualitative advantages over potential adversaries, that includes deploying over 206 Leopard 2SGs, multiple battalions of locally made Hunter, Bronco and Terrax armoured vehicles, with tight tri-service integration with the RSAF; with high end training conducted the Australia or America.​
 

OPSSG

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Part 6 of 6: The Taiwan factor in regional calculations

27. China has already begun a process of coercion, and as that continues, the next actions they take may not — and I think likely would not — be an all outright invasion of Taiwan. It might include anything from a blockade to increased cyber harassment, to seizure of the islands in between China and Taiwan. Michael Mazarr, a former National War College, professor and special assistant to the JCS chair now at the RAND Corporation said: “They could take some of those actions and kind of flip the deterrence script by taking a partial action and then attempting to deter us from responding or escalating.”

28. Writing as far back as Mar 2010, James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara notes that:

“Chinese observers by and large agree that, for a variety of reasons, the Taiwan Navy is not up to par regarding the sea-control functions outlined in the ROCN Vision. Condescension pervades Chinese analyses of the ROCN. Writing in Modern Navy, Yang Peng notes that Taiwan’s surface fleet is acutely vulnerable to guided missile-strikes. The fleet’s AAW pickets are particularly susceptible to saturation missile attacks (baohe daodan gongji) and rely excessively on the protective umbrella hoisted by tactical air power. Yang forecasts that Taiwanese ships will hesitate to venture beyond the range of land-based air cover. This reticence severely constricts the Taiwanese Navy’s tactical radius. Wu Letian not only questions the Taiwan Navy’s ability to prosecute anti-submarine and minesweeping operations, but also deprecates its capacity to fight at sea for very long.​
More specifically, Chinese analysts voice dismissive attitudes toward Taiwan’s main surface combatants. For instance, they appear not to take the Kidd-class destroyers, the island’s capital ships, very seriously. Sea-power theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan famously defined capital ships as “the backbone and real power of any navy,” meaning “the vessels which, by due proportion of defensive and offensive powers, are capable of taking and giving hard knocks”. By this standard, the ROCN falls woefully short—as Chinese thinkers rightly observe…​
Taipei’s vision of offensive sea control, then, appears less and less tenable, and Beijing knows it. Chinese naval thinkers have shrewdly and accurately taken the Taiwan Navy’s measure. Whether the ROCN will candidly evaluate its own shortcomings—and adapt its strategy, doctrine and forces to compensate—remains to be seen.”​

29. Anyone who wants to defend them have to fight their way into the island — which is why I don’t approve of blind support for the Taiwanese. For the last 11 years, Taiwan has a navy that can’t fight and the PLA(N) knows it and it’s Air Force has F-16Vs that can’t strike at range because they have zero air-to-air refuelling capability — which limits their loiter time and range — in contrast Singapore ordered 6 A330MRTTs, with the RSAF’s tanker squadron already operational — a capability that Taiwan does not have.

30. According to Taipei Times, “President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration is under no illusions, and is not relying on Washington to take the initiative and send its military to assist Taiwan should a conflict break out.” Taiwanese media assert that Taiwan is fully capable of defending itself — which is not true. Masahisa Sato, a senior lawmaker of Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party and an expert on defense, told a recent forum on security in Asia that right now the U.S.-Japan alliance is focused largely on a response to a possible conflict stemming from the Korean Peninsula, and it needs to be broadened to consider what to do if there is a Chinese attack on Taiwan. He noted that the Sakishima island group, which includes some of Okinawa’s remote islands, “is right next to Taiwan and is part of a same theater. We should consider a Taiwan contingency as nearly equal to a Japan contingency,” Sato said.

(a) IMHO, Taiwan spends more to get less, when compared to Singapore, because they train them so poorly (i.e. they have a bigger army than us). Taiwan may have more fighters than Singapore but a systems of systems level (for command and control and SEAD), they are a golden mile behind. Taipei Times cited Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen as stating that “[…]Taiwan’s only option is to make ourselves stronger, more united and more resolute in our determination to protect ourselves.”​

(b) This strategy is what David Kilcullen calls liminal warfare. Others have used the “little green men” expression — they have plans for undermining a sovereign nation without firing a shot — the Russians are going to do it through intimidation, spawning social or nationalistic unrest, capitalizing on social-media and utilizing the new domains of cyber and space in coordinated attacks that occur under the threshold of war. “I think it is fair to say that Taiwan is nowhere near to where it needs to be,” said Michael Mazarr. For most with an interest in military matters, Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang military exercise is an indication that Taipei is:​

(i) not doing enough (see my linked videos at post #307, to understand why Taiwan’s conscript training standards is rubbish); and​
(ii) not the right things to strengthen its defences against China as an ever mightier adversary.​
 
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