Defence of Taiwan

OPSSG

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Part 4 of 5: An attempt to debunk CCP myth making

7. Taiwan’s MND dropped a bombshell in Sep 2021 when it presented an incredibly downbeat assessment of the growing Chinese threat toward the island state. In its annual report to the parliament, the defense ministry stated that China’s PLA could “paralyze” Taiwan’s defenses.
(a) A discussion of a localized war against China over Taiwan is not one that should treat lightly. Anyone that is intellectually honest can admit the USAF, US Navy, and US Marines by themselves are not on the trajectory for victory there, without substantial JMSDF input. And not just for combat power. The Americans need Japanese naval intellect EW and ISR capabilities to visualise the battles to come and the escalation options, given Taiwanese weaknesses.​
(b) The USAF’s director of electromagnetic spectrum superiority, Brig. Gen. Tad Clark acknowledged that electromagnetic warfare (EW) has evolved, and while the US stalled in this domain, adversaries have improved their capabilities. This presents the US military with new challenges. “Gone are the days when we know what the threat is, we have a library [of countermeasures], and we have a few buttons to press to protect us,” Clark said. In apparent recognition of this fact, the US DoD made an effort to accelerate capabilities in this domain, first by releasing the Superiority Strategy in Oct 2020 and then in Jul 2021, when SecDef Lloyd Austin signed the strategy implementation plan.​
(c) Despite the Sep 2021 Taiwanese MND bombshell, and US DoD stalling on EW, I think overall, in 2021, Taiwan has made remarkable progress on building a large conventional deterrent. As such, there is some cause for optimism. In fact, the Taiwanese MND report acknowledged that the PLA still lacked the capacity—particularly when it came to transport and logistics—to launch a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. Nevertheless, China is working to boost those capabilities.​
8. Above is some of the AWACS in service with the JASDF; with these new Japanese E-2Ds often used to provide situational awareness for their fighters, when they conduct an intercept of a formation of PLAAF aircraft that overfly Japan’s ADIZ. Japan has through Foreign Military Sale, placed orders for 13 E-2Ds. The JASDF’s acquisition of the F-35As and F-35Bs paved the way for cooperation and training with the USAF and U.S. Marines on LO air superiority CONOPS that utilises the better situational awareness for a tactical advantage.

9. The JASDF and JMSDF don’t create a strategy with a plan. Rather, they execute the Japanese military procurement plan to invest in the correct tools to win the naval battles to come, as their strategy for deterrence — the Japanese have sufficient forces and the ability to use it within their A2AD bubble of their island chains they control.
(a) Japanese platform procurement is professional and requirements based. The selection of the F-35A, F-35B and E-2D combination are seen as an influence purchase for the ROKAF and the RSAF. This is about Japan acquiring a range of advanced air power capabilities evolved from American LO air power CONOPS for an unfair fight, through systems of systems engineering for their C4 systems that plug into their database. While their actual littoral warfare heuristics is OPSEC, there are clear signs the JSDF is well along this path.​
(b) The leadership of the JMSDF are strident critics of CCP, but they are never be so stupid, racist or strategically blind to consciously underestimate the PLA/N/AF, as a combined arms force that uses AI. I don't understand why some admirals in the US Navy continue to make that mistake. Don’t just look at the fighters, rather, to understand current JSDF capability, it must be located as a competing C4 system for the Blue force to be used against the Red force. The Chinese are already using of AI to process information gathered by domain awareness sensors.​
(c) To match the Chinese OODA loop, the Japanese have developed the capability to convert terabytes of data (generated from a broad array of sources ranging from battlefield sensors to captured enemy material to publicly available information) into intelligence. The Japanese have installed predictive algorithms to identify and predict ECAs and guide OCAs along an optimal path. Analytics translators could then take the model outputs and work with Japanese commanders to modify initial military training curricula and identify at-risk forces and enable early intervention to prevent loss through enemy action. The OODA loop that the JASDF is building to win in a fight, is incredible (see post #254 for a glossary of abbreviations).​

10. Increased computational power on fighters, attack helicopters, destroyers, frigates and submarines have resulted in the widespread use of decision support engines in target selection. The Japanese have a data strategy that is slowly transforming their intelligence cells at all levels into data-centric organizations. The JSDF KNOWS that future battlefield survival will hinge on data utilization, due to use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by the Chinese. Within this context, Japanese air power has three important characteristics:

(a) it includes less tangible ingredients, such as LO fighter employment doctrine along with allies, CONOPS that uses 13 E-2Ds, training, their tactics to create surprise, and their adaptability to Chinese counter-moves;​

(b) it is inseparable from Japanese intelligence on China — JASDF F-35A/Bs have a signal gathering capability, an unique datalink and the ability to operate as a formation for situational awareness, which should make the kinetic response to PLA(N) more feasible. JASDF air power involves more than merely attacking targets. The KHI P-1 MPAs, Japanese UAVs and submarines on patrol will no doubt assist in gathering ISR to help the JSDF decide on what PLA(N) target to hit and where to find it using predictive algorithms; and​

(c) it is inherently a joint force and embraces naval and army aviation, plus the KHI C-2’s ability to move anti-ship missiles of the joint force to remote islands to various chokepoints to bottle up the PLA(N). Planning for joint forces is a team effort that requires a system-of-systems engineering road map to guide data interface points.​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 5 of 5: An attempt to debunk CCP myth making

11. Since Operation Desert Storm, China has studied the American conduct of war, and have designed A2AD concepts and capabilities to exploit American weaknesses, particularly in force projection. Despite their A2AD plans, China can’t escape geography. At a time of war, the PLA(N) will need to fight its way out of the Japanese controlled chokepoints — that is why the country is trying to build a coalition with Russia by sailing together. If shooting starts, the American 7th Fleet and the JMSDF will seek to peel away layers of enemy situational awareness — if the Chinese can’t see far, they can’t shoot far.

(a) Let me say what worries me — it’s not the idiotic fanboys. What worries me is that there is no trust in the bilateral military-to-military relationship between US and China, and there is no trust in the bilateral military-to-military relationship between Japan and China, or even to plan for military Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).​
(b) I think it is a mistake that no side shows any interest in going down that CBM path (American, Chinese or Japanese) — which means unnecessary misunderstandings or miscalculations can arise. The PLA(N) certainly studies the US Navy, but that is largely an academic research exercise, not based on interactions.​
(c) If you look at the tensions between Singapore and Malaysia, in both 1991 and 2018, the bilateral military-to-military channel of communications between the MAF and SAF was always open and we engaged in CBMs to de-escalate tensions at the right time.​
(d) In the same spirit, I hope that the leaders of China and Japan can have the wisdom to keep channels of communications despite the current tension. Because ASEAN members needs leadership from these 2 bigger and richer countries to grow and prosper.​
(e) The Shangri-La Dialogue will return to Singapore in June 2022 — I hope the leaders of both defence ministries from both China and Japan come and share their respective perspective on security matters. As hosts, Singapore’s MINDEF staff and our Minister of Defence will be glad to facilitate discrete meetings to help both sides understand each others’ redlines. In fact, it will be the perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to speak to an international audience to share Japan’s views on regional developments.​

12. By pretending not to understand any point that explains why they are wrong, PLA fanboys often try to shift the goal posts (for a discussion of their favoured subject). If @AndrewS understood the concept of RCP (as explained in prior posts), he would know his post is wrong. It does not matter (as much) that during the initial stages, the JMSDF are going to sea out-numbered; and they, as the Blue force, have certain specific tactics to set up a battle favourable to them, over the PLA(N)’s Red force.
(a) DPP raises tensions with China for political gain; and to gain support for their intermittent weapons build programs for armoured vehicles, jets, ships and submarines. Conversely, war talk with regards to Taiwan serves as an infinitely flexible justification for the enrichment of China’s military-industrial complex.​
(b) If wolf warriors engage in acts of intimidation, it only hurts China’s image. In the last few posts, I have been trying to get the Western and ASEAN audience to understand China’s concerns about Taiwan — where China's top priority is to deter Taiwan independence rather than compel unification — which is a position that destroys DPP’s false appearances.​
(c) But thanks to the hawkish attitude and posts of @AndrewS the willingness of multiple audiences in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia to listen China’s concern is gone. International relations is just not just about carrots and sticks applied by bigger and richer countries but about building a community. Unless China is planning on emulating Russia by invading neighbours (like Ukraine), shooting down airliners (and denying it), using chemical weapons abroad, and bombing hospitals, can @AndrewS consider dialling back the needless hostility?​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 1 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

It's one thing to have nice flash new carriers, possibly even one or two CATOBAR, but it's another thing being able to operate them properly and efficiently. That takes time and not something that you can do in 10 minutes. It takes decades to master and that's just the carrier itself. There's also the CBG and how you sail and fight it as a battle group and as its individual components. It takes decades to work all that up and finesse the finer parts, building the expertise and institutional knowledge. Then just maybe you might be able to take on the USN and RN CBG and survive.
We're talking about a 2030 timeframe
One can reasonably assume 10 years is enough to become proficient
1. Not if the PLA(N)’s carrier based sea control CONOPS is wrong from day 1; and the Chinese tacticians never realised it until 10 years later. Most advanced navies keep the classified aspects of their CONOPS closely guarded.

(a) The only ones willing to teach the PLA(N) are the Naval Officers from Pakistan or Russia but they both don’t have particularly good navies, or the real ability to develop advanced sea control CONOPS. This is because these two are not sea control navies.​

(b) Any PLA(N) Taiwan invasion plan to be executed prior to 2031 needs sea control; but both Pakistan and Russia are not proficient in this area. While China makes armoured amphibious vehicles, it does not mean it has the CONOPS to maximise these capabilities in any Taiwan invasion attempt.​
(c) In 2041 and beyond, PLA(N)’s strategic operations encompass the Chinese vision for warfighting in a regional or large-scale war, along with concepts for managing escalation and war termination. Operations are meant to pulse military power into the theater in a manner different from simple warfighting, and inflict consequences that are strategic on Taiwan, Japan or America.​

2. Just as I warn Americans not to underestimate the PLA, you misunderstand Japanese capabilities in part because you are so myopic in your capability comparison. But that can be corrected, if you bother to read more about the JMSDF and the JASDF. In this forum:
(a) we have multiple current and retired naval officers who are surface warfare, ASW and submarine warfare qualified, with a healthy respect for the 7th Fleet and the JMSDF’s escort fleet capabilities. They are not going to buy your PLA(N) fanboy bullsh!t.​
(b) we agree that China is becoming more capable but the PLA are also not 10 feet tall.

3. As a Singaporean who was in Taiwan for military training in my youth, and knows the terrain, let me state the obvious — unlike PLA fanboys prone to bullish!t, Taiwanese terrain favours the defender. The main island of Taiwan is 394 kilometers long and 144 kilometers across at its widest point. It has 258 peaks over 3,000 meters in elevation. The tallest, Yushan, or “Jade Mountain,” is just under 4,000 meters high.
(a) As Ian Easton of the Project 2049 Institute has noted, Taiwan is “a defender’s dream come true,” its few beaches bordered by “cliffs and urban jungles,” its granite hills “honeycombed with tunnels and bunker systems,” and its outer islands bristling with missiles, rockets, and artillery.​
(b) The coastal terrain there is a defender’s dream come true. Taiwan has only 14 small invasion beaches, and they are bordered by cliffs and urban jungles. Linkou Beach near Taipei provides an illustrative example. Towering directly over the beach is Guanyin Mountain (615 meters). On its right flank is the Linkou Plateau (250 meters), and to its left is Yangming Mountain (1,094 meters). Structures made of steel-reinforced concrete blanket the surrounding valleys.​

4. While I don’t deny that the PLA(N)’s huge hull numbers and missile load out in a task group matters (a lot) to fight their way out of a chokepoint — numbers alone does not explain victory or loss for the Red force. That said:
(a) American thinking on Taiwan is often a mess, and that is among the people that are even thinking. Within the US Navy it is occurring at all levels. We have silly admirals saying Chinese destroyers and submarines can’t fight their way out of a paper bag — that is no longer true.​
(b) Jennifer Melot, Ben Murphy, and Ryan Fedasiuk at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) compiled every procurement record published by PLA units and state-owned defense companies from Apr to Nov 2020, to find what the PLA is buying. IMHO, many Americans have lost touch with reality of China’s desire to improve and their real at sea capability relative to American naval decline.​
5. Despite diplomatic isolation, Taiwan has viable economic ties with 3 of the 5 permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and the G7 — which means any unprovoked attack on Taiwan will invite international condemnation. Therefore, D=FxA for any potential aggressor, like the PLA. Where ‘A’ is the ability of the PLA to use its firepower against Taiwan.
6. Having said the above, Taiwan DOES NOT HAVE a free pass at declaring independence, as a French politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, noted: “If Taiwan formally declares independence, China can rightfully think that a red-line has been crossed.” While I agree with his views on Taiwan, I am NOT a leftist dreamer, like him. In 2011, French historian Nicolas Lebourg said Jean-Luc Mélenchon is considered to be "a left-wing conspiracy theorist." Mélenchon wants France to withdraw from NATO and advocates for what he calls a "separate France" which is pacifist.
 
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OPSSG

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Part 2 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

The Falklands War was the first modern anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) war, pitting a joint expeditionary force against a regional power with modern land, air, and sea capabilities fighting over control of territory close to home. As such, it may prove far more relevant for the future … than any conflict in the past two decades.
Commander Jim Griffin, Proceedings Magazine, May 2012​
7. During the 1982 Falklands War, despite the Argentineans having more than ten times the combat aircraft (including 16 Dassault Mirage IIIs) when compared to the Royal Navy task group, they failed to achieve air superiority. Further, the Argentineans were familiar with the capabilities of the Sea Dart, as well as the capabilities of the main Sea Dart launch platform which was the Type 42 destroyer, since the Argentine Navy had two Type 42s in service. As a result of this, the tactics used during air attacks were adjusted to minimize the effectiveness of British air defence capabilities.

(a) The failure of the Argentineans to achieve air superiority resulted in substantial losses on both parties, including 132 aircraft, and 11 ships. For the British, defensive counter-air was conducted by 22 to 28 subsonic Sea Harriers flying from the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes (armed with the AIM-9L Sidewinder). The Sea Harriers flew 1,435 sorties shooting down 20 enemy aircraft plus three probables. Using two of the three factors identified by Col. Warden (having better trained personnel and choosing to fight from a better position) and effective sortie generation, the Royal Navy was able to achieve a favourable air situation for significant portions of the conflict.​
(b) On the one hand, in 1982, the British were able to use their superior training, the Blue Fox multi-mode radar in the Sea Harriers and the AIM-9L to good effect in air-to-air engagements. On the other, the Argentineans lacked good intelligence on the Royal Navy task group, their Super Etendard pilots had insufficient training on the Exocet sea-skimming anti-ship missiles in their limited inventory to conduct attacks (the problem was multiplied by the British use of Lynx helicopters with electronic decoys to lure the Exocet toward imaginary targets).​
(c) The Battle for San Carlos saw aggressive Argentine air attacks. Flying just above the wave tops, the Argentine based attack aircraft made repeated attacks on the British Task Force with bombs and Exocet anti-ship missiles. The Argentine air attacks proved devastating. From 21 to 25 May 1982, the Argentine air attacks sank one British destroyer, 2 frigates and one container ship (Atlantic Conveyor). Additionally, 2 more destroyers, 3 frigates, and 3 logistic landing ships were damaged.​
(d) Falklands naval campaign and land campaign were intertwined with a symbiotic relationship (each aiding in protecting the other), locked in a mutual dance of tactical survival, while engaged in a desperate operational plan and determined to win the campaign as one cohort.​
(e) Imagine a Falklands like campaign with precision strike and supersonic cruise missiles instead of the Exocet missiles and bombs. Where Red and Blue forces launch long range precision anti-ship missiles which skim the ocean’s surface. Where the cruise missiles are timed to hit simultaneously in conjunction with an additional LO air and electronic attack on the naval forces. Chinese military leaders are already procuring AI-related systems and equipment to prepare for “intelligentized” warfare, but AI so far represents a small fraction of overall purchasing activity.​
(f) Chinese leaders view AI as the key to transforming the PLA into a “world-class,” globally competitive military force. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems designed to identify undersea vehicles, wargame Taiwan operations, track US Navy ships, and deploy electronic countermeasures, among other tasks (see: Harnessed Lightning —How the Chinese Military is Adopting Artificial Intelligence). PLA advances in AI and autonomy will create new vulnerabilities for the the JMSDF, the US Navy, the USAF, the US Marines and allied forces operating in the Indo-Pacific. "Calling China a pacing threat is a useful term because the pace at which China is moving is stunning," outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Hyten told reporters. "The pace they're moving and the trajectory they're on will surpass Russia and the United States if we don't do something to change it. It will happen. So I think we have to do something."​
(g) "It's not just the United States but the United States and our allies because that's the thing that really changes the game," Gen. Hyten added. "If it's the United States only, it's going to be problematic in five years. But if it's the United States and our allies I think we can be good for a while." In any future battle, the F-35Bs of the JMSDF escort fleets and the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, will at the appropriate time apply the Tactics of Division on the Chinese Red force, if the Japanese are unable to avoid battle with a PLA(N) task group. This is evident from not just the 1982 Falklands War (that the PLA(N) invested a lot of effort in studying) but also as far back as the Battle of Trafalgar.​

8. In the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, the fleet of Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the fleet of Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve despite inferior number. At the start, the British fleet had 27 ships and a total of 2,148 naval guns. The Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships and 2,568 naval guns, was far greater in number.

(a) According to Nelson’s plan, the British fleet would cut the Franco-Spanish line into 3 parts. The British ships would approach in 2 columns of 13 ships and 14 ships.​

(b) He avoided fighting out numbered in guns. He protected his fleet’s RCP, by clever use of naval tactics.​
9. The PLAAF of 2021 to 2031 seeks air parity and in no way configured or resourced for air superiority in the littoral chokepoints, against capable tertiary air forces like the JASDF and USAF, when combined, who can protect their own high value units, and kill PLAAF AWACS at range or use EW to blind Chinese sensors.

(a) If you read the news, you would know that the Americans are radically evolving/changing their air-to-air missile inventory to address the threat matrix. They have got it figured out — how to fight with an enemy employing LO at Red Flag or DACT. The USAF, the USN, the US Marines, and the JASDF are just keeping that level of tactics discussion as OPSEC, except to other members of the F-35 club.​
(b) Like the US Marines with their Force Design 2030, the US Navy has an Aviation Vision 2030-2035 that reflects a vision of a US Navy that swarms the sea, delivering synchronized lethal and non-lethal efforts from near and far, on every axis and in every domain. There are 3 key elements in the plan:​
(i) delivering capability and capacity to win in the Great Power Competition;​
(ii) generating future readiness across the force; and​
(iii) achieving revolutionary training—to form the framework of US Navy Aviation’s future.​
Given that the fiscal environment is expected to remain constrained, placing wholeness at risk, so US Navy Aviation’s ability to responsibly manage its resources available to organize, man, train, and equip the aviation Fleet across its full range of missions will be central to ensuring maritime air superiority.​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 3 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

10. By Law No. 30 of 1977, Japan extended its territorial sea to 12 miles, except for specified designated areas in 5 international straits in which it has developed specific definitions which creates territorial sea limits between 3 and 12 miles. The 5 international straits affected by this decision are the Eastern and Western Channels of the Tsushima Strait, Osumi Strait, La Perouse (Soya Strait), and Tsugaru Strait. Japan has made its territorial sea claim less than 12 miles in these straits to maintain high seas corridors.

(a) The JASDF has budgeted for the purchase of 8 F-35Bs, 6 in FY2020 and 2 in FY2021. And the budget request for FY2022 calls for the purchase of 4 F-35Bs. The first Japanese F-35Bs are scheduled to be deployed in FY2024 at JASDF’s Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture (in the Kyushu region of southern Japan).​
(b) Under a continuous build program, Japan operates 3 classes of submarines, namely, the Oyashio class, the advanced Sōryū class and the cutting edge Taigei-class submarines. These submarines are actively patrolling these 5 international straits, the JMSDF control them. In Feb 2018, it was disclosed that 7 of the Oyashio class completed service-life extension work, which means their submarine fleet is all modern.​
(c) According to Kosuke Takahashi, the Tokyo correspondent of Jane’s Weekly Defense, the 6.7 billion yen for the STOVL modifications of the Izumo class includes 1.2 billion yen (US$10.8 million) for technical assistance from the U.S. military for the modification of the Izumo class and 1.3 billion yen (US$11.7 million) for the modification of the air traffic control room of the Kaga, Izumo’s sister ship. The JASDF sensor reach is so good that they have some ability to track most Chinese military aircraft shortly after take-off from PLAAF or PLANAF airbases.​
(d) Due to Japan’s superior submarines and LO F-35A/Bs, by day 30 to day 45 of hostilities, the JMSDF aim of keeping the PLA(N) bottled within the 1st island chain (at 4 chokepoints and defend its freedom of navigation in the 5 international straits), would be executed. This ensures American and Japanese escalation dominance. @AndrewS, going forward, please inject a dose of reality in this thread, instead of a fantasy.​
11. In the 2021 to 2031 time frame, the PLA(N) is infinitely more capable than the 38,000 sailor strong ROC Navy — but the PLA(N) are also unable to do anything to Taiwan, despite proclaiming a red line. Fortunately for Taiwan, their immediate neighbour in the 1st island chain is Japan, a very capable US ally. If fighting starts, I expect that the US Navy and JMSDF bearing the brunt of any future fighting to keep SLOCs open for Taiwan, to reinforce them by day 45 to 60 of hostilities. If an American general in command believes Taiwan cannot hold its own sector of defence (i.e. defence of its own main island aided by MARSOC, other SF and ANGLICO support), it may not be feasible to help them in a future conflict. Having said that:
(a) While there is no formal military-to-military relationship between Taiwan and Japan, I expect that Taiwan’s numerous F-16Vs and 12 P-3Cs that are supported by E-2Ds will be tasked for to launch about 12 to 24 anti-ship missiles per wave, in support of JMSDF CONOPS is to bottle up the PLA(N) within the 1st island chain, to prevent their escape to blue water.​
(b) Concurrently, JMSDF naval task groups will be aided by Japanese F-35A/Bs, F-15Js, American F-18Es and B-1Bs acting as sensors and shooters will be firing hundreds of 560km+ ranged LRASMs in a campaign. Each F-15J or F-18E can easily carry 4 LRASMs. Each B-1B carries 24 LRASM. A flight of two B-1Bs, can fire up to 48 LRASMs in one salvo. Given the capability of the PLA(N), at least 2 fights of B-1Bs attacking in multiple directions are needed to saturate a PLA(N) task group’s defence — that are equipped with Type 055 destroyers that displace more than 10,000 tons, with 112 vertical launch missile cells.​
(c) Before the four B-1Bs fire a single salvo of 96 missiles, the USN’s Growlers will be fighting the EW battle to jam China’s AWACs, and to penetrate the defensive PLA(N) screen of frigates (to attack the carriers and high value command ships), waves upon waves of USAF and JASDF F-35As, US Marines and JASDF F-35Bs and USN F-35Cs will be firing dozens of AGM-88E AARGMs, in multiple salvos that would exceed HARM usage during Operation Allied Force*, to assist in the conduct of SEAD missions to suppress enemy radars, prior to the arrival of tidal waves of LRSM.​
(d) While the PLA(N) is busy with the air situation, 12 to 16 JMSDF and USN submarines will appear on scene and start sinking the enemy capital ships.​
*Footnote: NATO reportedly fired 743 HARMs during the course of the 78-day Operation Allied Force campaign.
 
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OPSSG

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Part 4 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

12. Many fanboys are more interested in the sharp end, when most informed members here, ask about logistics and sustainment. Most PLA fanboys fail to understand the role of specialists like Marine Raider Battalions, ANGLICOs or USAF Combat Control Teams. The US Marines focus on logistics for its Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), is exemplified by the development of the CH-53K. In addition, for the U.S. Marines’ ACE, as part of Force Design 2030, they have:
  • Continued to analyze VMFA capacity requirements as well as the appropriate F-35 B/C mix of aircraft.
  • Initiated the divestment of all RQ-21 aircraft, and the introduction of additional capabilities for experimentation to include the MQ-9A and VBat UAS.
  • Initiated the expansion of VMU capacity by three new MALE squadrons. Programmed resources and developed an acquisition strategy necessary to realize the Marine Unmanned Expeditionary/Medium Altitude Long Endurance capability in FY23.
  • Continued the adjustment of the capacity for Aerial Refueler Transport (VMGR) squadrons.
  • Initiated the divestment of two VMM squadrons in 2020, and began the planning necessary to initiate the divestment of a third VMM squadron no later than 2021.
  • Initiated the divestment of two HMLA squadrons.
  • Initiated the divestment of 2.75 HMH squadrons.
  • Continued to examine options for all Reserve Component aviation requirements.
  • Initiated a review of Fleet Replacement Squadron laydown.
13. US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s decided to implement the CONOPS on Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). This operational concept employs expeditionary systems — emphasizing anti-ship cruise missile launchers — from austere, distributed land bases within adversary weapons engagement zones to contribute sea denial operations. In addition for the U.S. Marines’ Ground Combat Element, as part of Force Design 2030, they have:
  • Continued planning for the establishment of three standing Marine Littoral Regiments (MLRs) in III MEF, consisting of an O-6 headquarters, a Littoral Combat Team (LCT), a tailored Combat Logistics Battalion, and a Littoral Anti-Air Battalion.
  • Prepared for Infantry Battalion Experiment 2030, which will experiment with one battalion each from 1st, 2nd, and 3d Marine Divisions over the next two years.
  • Validated the requirement for Organic Precision Fires – Infantry (OPF-I) to include loitering munitions within our reorganized infantry battalions and LCTs.
  • Initiated an enhanced infantry training program to produce more proficient, resilient, and lethal Marine infantry.
  • Prepared to divest of 3 AC and 2 RC infantry battalions.
  • Completed the divestment of 2 AC and 1 RC tank battalions.
  • Continued the planned transition of 14 towed cannon batteries into self-propelled rocket artillery and anti-ship missile batteries.
    • Initiated the divestment of two Assault Amphibian (AA) companies.
  • Initiated fielding of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).
  • Identified the likely utility of multi-domain Mobile Reconnaissance units possessing OPF-I, light-weight vehicles, unmanned air and surface systems, boats, and other capabilities necessary to succeed in a contested information environment.
 
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Part 5 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

14. In a recent update, it seems the US Marines will now operate 118 Viper and 90 Venom helicopters or less in Force Design 2030. They are also giving up their MBTs but they are gaining the ability to deploy forces within the 1st island chain; where the US Marine Corps is still focused on four main areas:

(a) logistics and sustainment;​
(b) long-range precision fires;​
(c) alternate positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT); and​
(d) command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (C5ISRT).​

15. To be threat-informed, in the era of great power competition is to understand that not all military capability is conventional or unclassified. The US Marines have also found a way through MARSOC to adapt to change, in the Indo-Pacific — to converge unconventional warfare with conventional military capability resident in an MEU or MEB for overmatch. This ensures that there is no need to even fight in an contested environment (i.e. deter the ‘little green men’ without fighting), to set up an EABO.

(a) MARSOC was created by fusing the 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Companies with the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group (MSOAG); and MSOAG was originally named the Foreign Military Training Unit (FMTU). The Marine Raider Regiment consists of HQ Company and 3 Marine Raider Battalions (1st, 2d and 3d).​

(b) Foreign Internal Defense (FID) operations, security assistance and counter terrorism are critical components of the U.S. National Security Strategy and National Strategy for Counter Terrorism. Thanks to FMTU roots, MARSOC’s flagship core competency is FID, which gives 3 key advantages:​
(i) Access.​
(ii) Placement.​
(iii) Influence.​
One way to see it is to say it is THE ability to influence another country because of US access and placement. Another way to put it, is to inject a MARSOC team of guys with guns into a given situation.​
(c) But there is more. Their Force Recon background enable the each of these Marine Raider Battalion to conduct direct action, such as, seizing or securing access to a port or air field, when their capabilities need to be aggregated or even operate as part of a coalition. In the 2021 iteration of the Green Dagger exercise (as a lead-in to a larger training event known as Marine Air Ground Task Force Warfighting Exercise 1-22), MARSOC, trained with Royal Marines and the UAE's Presidential Guard to take on another US Marine unit. The invite and active participation of allies like the Royal Commandos, reinforces the strength of NATO relationships and validates the long-held understanding that when the U.S. goes into a fight it does not go alone.​
(d) MARSOC can operate disaggregated and has deployed 14-man teams to the Indo-Pacific region on a rotational basis for years, part of a broader effort to support the Filipino military’s struggle with international crime and terrorism. It is highly unlikely T.E. Lawrence (the father of unconventional warfare) would even be admitted to MARSOC selection (3 weeks per phase in 2 phases), let alone pass the current initial training course (9 months long), as it would be too tough. But before a MARSOC company deploys, they undergo Exercise Raven.​

16. Not many Battalions within the US Defense Department can deploy in small teams and engage with indigenous forces across language and culture barriers. Subsequently, the need for more FID experts was an impetus for the creation of MARSOC.
(a) The Marine Raider Battalions have a key role to play in the 1st and 2nd island chain, where their foreign language skills and ability to blend in help secure the relationship with local forces. A Marine Raider Battalion is intended to be paired with and supported by the III Marine Expeditionary Force during combat operations to increase cost effectiveness, and to provide special reconnaissance — on China’s string of pearls. If the gloves come off, they will operate in numerous countries.​
(b) There are MARSCO operators with a good understanding of both the Chinese language and its culture. They want native language speakers, that understand the nuances of specific parts to a language but also the culture.​
(c) The Marine Raider Battalions also have support staff that are assisting in military AI development and in information support operations, in local languages; and it is important to make sure they understand the environment they are working in.​
(i) The best thing about MARSOC is that no one outside of SOCOM knows what they do and it should be kept that way. Keeping in mind that they are under SOCOM and their reach is global.​
(ii) In July 2021, it was reported that more than 300 SOCOM representatives, including members of senior leadership as well as other, lower-ranked officers and civilians, was sent for a 6 week course to understand broad future trends in AI development, and commercial deployment.​
(iii) The discussion included how operators might use tools like computer vision in the near future, “not just to detect vehicles here or there, but try to make sense of the imagery in a conceptual way,” Sertac Karaman, a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT said. Other portions of the course were devoted to AI safety and how to pursue new capabilities while adhering to the Pentagon’s AI ethical principles. SOCOM head Gen. Richard Clarke told lawmakers that one of the key features of the course from a SOCOM perspective was to help senior and mid-tier SOCOM personnel “learn what the AI principles were so that they could ask the right questions.”​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 6 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

17. The US Marines reported at the 18 month mark (Apr 2021 report) into their 10 year Force Design 2030 modernization effort — in some capability areas they have sufficient understanding to begin the transition from force design to force development.

18. This is why we must give credit to the US Marines for their threat-informed, concept-based look at requirements.

(a) The directorate has hosted integrated product teams to look specifically at C5ISRT and counter-C5ISRT in all domains, at unmanned capabilities, and mobility.​
(b) Another upcoming IPT will look at sensing in the air, land and ocean surface, and those will all combine to help inform if there is a need for an Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV). A competitive prototyping effort is also ongoing to help work through some of the requirements.​
(c) Interestingly, they have invalidated the requirement to replace existing LAV-25s with a similar armored, wheeled or tracked manned vehicle in a one- for-one ratio.​

I very much appreciate your efforts here and the significant amount of research and analysis that you have provided on this topic.
19. You are too kind. I learn a lot from your posts too. IMHO, the CCP’s current over reaction to the DPP does more harm to China’s global standing than any gains it makes over Taiwan in their domestic politics. Since Sep 2020, 800 intrusions into Taiwan’s ADIZ, is a bit much for someone like me who blames Taiwan for the current mess. China can’t be seen as a leader, if it is only feared but not respected. To be seen as a leader, China has to inspire.

20. The Biden Administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, in step with SefDec Austin’s recent Letter to the Force continues to identify strategic competition with China as a top priority. As opposed to the PLA(N), most capable navies have cooperative relationships, to jointly protect SLOCS — eg. CTF 151.
(a) Looking at the JMSDF, US Marines and USAF plans holistically, people who are capable of critical thinking will realise that the PLA can threaten to invade Taiwan — this threat is credible.​
(b) But any PLA invasion attempt will come at great cost — especially if there are Marine Raider Battalions, ANGLICOs or USAF Combat Control Teams in theatre for fires coordination.​
(c) And the CCP have a bigger problem after any invasion attempt of Taiwan (which might fail) — the ‘and then what’ factor. China will end up with a huge insurgency problem and a bigger problem of not being able to trade, as it can’t secure its SLOCs from end-to-end, with Marine Raider Battalions enforcing a blockade at load port. These ‘and then what’ factors are not solvable.​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 7 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

21. If the US Marines who have landed on islands within the 1st and 2nd island chains, under the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), could go after naval targets, US SSNs could go on lurking undetected — which will deny PLA(N) attempts at sea control.

“We’re going to have US Marines out there sinking ships. I’ve even talked to our undersea guys about US Marines out there sinking submarines, so some of our inside forces can stay hidden. Let our adversary worry about me and my hundred guys running around crazy on some island instead of these capital assets that are really the heart and soul of the joint force,” US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Tracy King, the US Navy’s director of expeditionary warfare on the chief of naval operations’ staff said, referring to American SSNs.​

22. Given that the PLA(N)’s FC-31 has just flown, it is a scary time, if you are in the JMSDF (thinking of British losses in 1982). Being equipped for catapult operations for the outset, the new fighter seems certain to be intended to operate from the forthcoming Type 003 carrier — the third for the PLAN, and the first to have a distinctly domestic design. The Type 003 design is expected to be equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), rather than relying on the ‘ski-jump’ ramps used on the PLAN’s previous two carriers, Liaoning and Shandong.

23. @AndrewS, go read Air Power 101 for New Members to avoid embarrassment, given your fanboy style posts. Have a think. Do you want to post in forums where 1/2 the people don't know any better? If you want to discuss matters in a forum full of people with a real interest in defence, or have the required technical knowledge, you need to change your style of engagement. Where do you think you would learn more from?

(a) As I have often said, in the real world, no fighter, fights on its own. As a forum, we have had so many cycles of correcting newbies that the members of the forum are bored with dealing with people with little or no interest in having a real discussion on defence matters; and we have a reference 'thread (where some prior comparisons were made)' for new members to read, to help them stay out of trouble.​

(b) I don’t really want to go into more detail here. If I may over simplify to make a point, the American cum Japanese integrated air-sea battle approach is an attempt using modern CONOPS to get an 87:0 exchange ratio against the PLAAF, for air combat and conduct sense and strike operations seamlessly.​
 
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KC.B

New Member
Hello everyone, new here to the forum. The more I drill down into what a PLA invasion of Taiwan, and what that would actually look like, the more intriguing things get. Difficult military problems are fascinating, and this one is a doozy. Beyond the; will they won’t they, can they should they, conversation and assuming D day is a reality, I would put the first real possibility around 2027-2028. At that point its possible to imagine they have the required lift capacity both with augmented civil fusion and assault ships construction pace.

1, I'm curious, at some point you have to get sufficient combat power on dry land. I’m not a navy guy, I’m ex airborne, the thought of trying a massive airborne assault into the modern day porcupine is the stuff of my nightmares, despite your best SEAD efforts. Certainly not in the opening moves.

2, you have to take those ports to be able to use them for the huge numbers of follow on forces required, so direct assaults onto main ports… possibly? At the very least you would require beach assaults as supporting efforts in proximity to targeted ports.


My question; is the PLA capable of an over the horizon amphibious assault? Can those assault ships remain at a safer distance, deploy enough combat power direct into the ocean and onto a selected beach. An LDP Type 071 can pack 60 ZBD type vehicles without the LACAs. ROROs, with the newly fitted ocean stern gates, can also be used as assault ships with many more assault vehicles. It would take approximately 1hr 15min for the ZBD heavy force to reach the beach from approximately 13 miles out, sea state dependent I imagine?

I have not seen any literature regarding this approach. The open source media appears to consist of exercises focused on legacy style amphibious assaults. Not sure that viable at all today?
 

Musashi_kenshin

Well-Known Member
A short update. The Taiwanese government's bill for special additional defence spending (just over $8.5 billion over five years) has been passed by the legislative.


The government will now proceed to draft a budget and submit it for review spelling out in more detail what the money will be spent on.
 

OPSSG

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Part 8 of 8: That sinking feeling when you wrong!

Hello everyone, new here to the forum. The more I drill down into what a PLA invasion of Taiwan, and what that would actually look like, the more intriguing things get. Difficult military problems are fascinating, and this one is a doozy. Beyond the; will they won’t they, can they should they, conversation and assuming D day is a reality, I would put the first real possibility around 2027-2028. At that point its possible to imagine they have the required lift capacity both with augmented civil fusion and assault ships construction pace.

1, I'm curious, at some point you have to get sufficient combat power on dry land. I’m not a navy guy, I’m ex airborne, the thought of trying a massive airborne assault into the modern day porcupine is the stuff of my nightmares, despite your best SEAD efforts. Certainly not in the opening moves.
24. Based on war studies, the PLA(N) understands RCP very well, as they train to fight as a task group — they know they are still trapped in the 1st island chain and need Russian help to break out, if shooting starts. America may have incompetent politicians, like Trump (who act in a manner harmful to Northeast Asian security dynamics), but do not mistake that for systematic military leadership competence at multiple levels. I just don’t understand why @AndrewS does not understand this same concept that the PLA(N) also understand and react to?
(a) The Taiwanese have a large inventory of current Stinger missiles. Given that fact, at this time, I believe the PLA does not have ability to invade Taiwan via its helicopter fleet (heliborne assault). In the mid-term (next 8 to 15 years), that may change, depending on the PLA’s rate of helicopter fleet size increase. My real concern is the PLAAF’s ability to conduct SEAD, as this will affect the viability of a PLA heliborne assault as a block force in support of its larger scale Taiwan amphibious invasion plans.​
(b) One of my concerns is with a future PLA heliborne assault, which Taiwan needs to address in its war plans, as the PLAAF's capability to conduct SEAD improves; and its Z19 armed recon helicopter fleet grows. Chinese use of armed recon and attack helicopters on LHAs and merchant vessels to suppress Taiwanese defenders (armed with mines, to deny LZs or drop zones, TK-2, TK-3, Stinger SAM systems and such other anti-tank missiles), will be an action-reaction dynamic that bears watching.​
(c) Beyond SAM systems, I know that Taiwan has an layered contingency plan to handle such PLA moves along with a large number of air defence systems to shoot down transport aircraft dropping a long string of jumpers. The actual company or battalion sized drop zones are all mapped by the Taiwanese Army and they have layered contingency plans, to address such suicidal PLA attempts. Any airborne or heliborne assault needs a minimum mass. In this respect, Taiwan is modern day porcupine, partially hardened against invasion. A good mix of anti-personnel and area defence mines work pretty well when each large drop zone in Taiwan is watched by a small platoon+ sized initial force, to watch the minefield, supported by a QRF and artillery on call.​
(d) Given terrain constraints and the presence of Taiwanese armoured forces, I am not worried about large scale parachute jumps of PLA battalions or brigades, in any supplementary PLA plan to conduct an amphibious invasion of Taiwan — PLA airborne forces are more likely to be a diversionary attack. I strongly believe that such plans are not viable without horrendous loss ratios — the presence of TK-2 and TK-3 missiles that are in service in Taiwan, will cause tremendous losses to the both Xi'an Y-20 and Ilyushin Il-76 transporters tasked in such a role.​
(e) Further, low tech area defence mines in a daisy chain are really labour saving and very fast to deploy. The general public should not fall for PLA propaganda on the viability of an air or heliborne assault at this time. The likelihood of PLA success is not only remote, it is also doomed to failure given Taiwan’s terrain and available QRFs.​
2, you have to take those ports to be able to use them for the huge numbers of follow on forces required, so direct assaults onto main ports… possibly? At the very least you would require beach assaults as supporting efforts in proximity to targeted ports.
25. The PLA’s best chance of success is via amphibious assault on Taiwan’s 14 landing beaches; but only if beachhead establishment coincides with a PLA deception plan that works flawlessly. But given the scale of preparation to move the forces required, there will be a clear signature that such plans are ongoing. Any PLA plan has multiple points of failure and UNLESS they can string together risky plans into a coherent campaign, the Chinese nightmare of a defeat in detail, in Taiwan, can easily come true.
(a) Even if the PLA plan works for a while, it is pretty risky. The Taiwanese ports taken by the PLA will remain a target for Japanese and American airstrikes. The Americans will drop mines in the approaches to Taiwan using air-dropped mines (via B-52s and so on), to make things miserable for the PLA.​
(b) I have taken part in two sided exercises when I am inserted by helicopter and the expected loss rates can be horrendous. Any delay buys Taiwan valuable mobilization time. The longer the delay, the better prepared the defenders will be in isolating the attackers and killing them in place. The last thing the PLA wants is a turkey shoot of their forces fighting on LZs or drop zones; and unable to breakout to link up with the amphibious assault waves.​

My question; is the PLA capable of an over the horizon amphibious assault? Can those assault ships remain at a safer distance, deploy enough combat power direct into the ocean and onto a selected beach. An LDP Type 071 can pack 60 ZBD type vehicles without the LACAs. ROROs, with the newly fitted ocean stern gates, can also be used as assault ships with many more assault vehicles. It would take approximately 1hr 15min for the ZBD heavy force to reach the beach from approximately 13 miles out, sea state dependent I imagine?

I have not seen any literature regarding this approach. The open source media appears to consist of exercises focused on legacy style amphibious assaults. Not sure that viable at all today?
26. Yes, against Pinoy, Malaysian or Indonesian islands in the South China Sea, the PLA and the PLA(N) Marines on LHAs and LPDs, can do over the horizon air and amphibious assault on lightly defended objectives. But it is also very unlikely that the PLA will engage in legacy style amphibious assaults, against a capable target like Taiwan. IMHO, the PLA's public demonstrations are just part of their deception / propaganda plans.

A short update. The Taiwanese government's bill for special additional defence spending (just over $8.5 billion over five years) has been passed by the legislative.
27. Finally, we see a real attempt to improve; and the Taiwanese will improve their military capability from the 5th to 7th year after the systems hit IOC.

28. This is a huge PLA exercise with frontline aircraft, going outside the first island chain (with complex tanker support). The greatest danger is not the invasion of Taiwan main island proper but a tiny island/outpost that is more lightly defended.
 
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Feanor

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24. Based on war studies, the PLA(N) understands RCP very well, as they train to fight as a task group — they know they are still trapped in the 1st island chain and need Russian help to break out, if shooting starts.
Just out of curiosity, how exactly can Russia help? The Pacific fleet is far weaker then what China has. I supposed if China based warships out of Kamchatka that might help but it would have to be done well in advance since it would require considerable infrastructure and supplies (not to mention a major upgrade to air defense both ground-based and air-based). Russian maritime strike at this point isn't exactly superior to what China can reasonably pull off.
 

ngatimozart

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Just out of curiosity, how exactly can Russia help? The Pacific fleet is far weaker then what China has. I supposed if China based warships out of Kamchatka that might help but it would have to be done well in advance since it would require considerable infrastructure and supplies (not to mention a major upgrade to air defense both ground-based and air-based). Russian maritime strike at this point isn't exactly superior to what China can reasonably pull off.
A Russian threat from Siberia and Vladivostok divides Japanese and US forces because they cannot afford to ignore the possibility / probability of fleet, air and missile sorties from there. Whilst the current air strength in Russia's Far East may be somewhat weak at the moment, it can move air capabilities east at short notice. The VMF can also deploy SSNs to the Far East without fanfare as well. It's only VMF surface ships that may have a problem during the period when the the northern route isn't ice free.

They just have to cruise in international waters north and north east of Japan glowering and look menacing without revealing their true intentions sowing enough doubt in Japanese and American minds that they have no choice but to prepare to defend against them. Those forces are forces that cannot fight the Chinese. Funnily enough it's what the Russians unwittingly did to the Japanese during WW2, with the IJA General Staff fixated on the Siberian border until mid 1944, keeping the Kwangtung Army at full strength with their best troops and equipment, even though it was sorely needed elsewhere. Gen Zhukov had given them a very harsh lesson and a big fright in 1939.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
A Russian threat from Siberia and Vladivostok divides Japanese and US forces because they cannot afford to ignore the possibility / probability of fleet, air and missile sorties from there. Whilst the current air strength in Russia's Far East may be somewhat weak at the moment, it can move air capabilities east at short notice. The VMF can also deploy SSNs to the Far East without fanfare as well. It's only VMF surface ships that may have a problem during the period when the the northern route isn't ice free.

They just have to cruise in international waters north and north east of Japan glowering and look menacing without revealing their true intentions sowing enough doubt in Japanese and American minds that they have no choice but to prepare to defend against them. Those forces are forces that cannot fight the Chinese. Funnily enough it's what the Russians unwittingly did to the Japanese during WW2, with the IJA General Staff fixated on the Siberian border until mid 1944, keeping the Kwangtung Army at full strength with their best troops and equipment, even though it was sorely needed elsewhere. Gen Zhukov had given them a very harsh lesson and a big fright in 1939.
It would not even need to involve Russian forces in or near that particular theatre. If tensions and/or Russian forces were to concentrate near borders with the Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and/or Poland, this could split both the resources and focus away from what US and allies might otherwise direct towards the SCS or ECS.

Whether or not the PRC and Russia could manage to coordinate themselves sufficiently to accomplish this, or if one power is "nimble" enough to direct their forces following actions the other power takes elsewhere in the world, is of course another question entirely.
 

Feanor

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Thanks, that helps. So it's less direct military aid and more the implications of Russian involvement there or elsewhere without actual action.
 
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