China’s growing amphibious force

May 22, 2010

Here’s an article that should prove worrisome to anyone concerned with China’s role in international affairs. The growth and modernization of the Chinese PLA’s amphibious forces seems to indicate ambitions beyond a possible invasion and conquest of Taiwan, to a projection of Chinese military power into Southeast Asia and beyond:

There has been significant soul-searching over the past year in the U.S. Defense Department about the viability of the Marine Corps’ amphibious assault mission, tied to the controversy over the troubled General Dynamics Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. No such doubts about amphibious operations exist in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Since the early 1990s, the PLA has developed and deployed two generations of amphibious armored assault vehicles, and more recently developed a range of specialized amphibious assault and support systems. While this effort is largely focused on preparing for a possible invasion of Taiwan, it will also help the PLA undertake long-distance amphibious assault operations as the PLA Navy (PLAN) builds a number of large amphibious transport ships later this decade.

The remainder details recent Chinese developments in weapons and transportation systems, which, given the growth of the PLA Navy and its increasingly long-distance missions, point to an almost inevitable challenge to US naval dominance in the western Pacific and even the Indian Ocean. American planners have to bear these future possible challenges in mind while dealing with the current (and likely to last for decades) challenge from jihadist Islam. It’s by no means certain that China and the US will come into violent conflict, but we need be honest and admit that China is a strategic competitor, not a friend. With Chinese hyper-nationalism on the rise and the US Navy shrinking thanks to the need to feed President Obama’s domestic programs, it’s not inconceivable that Beijing could could consider using intimidation or even force to achieve its objectives, just as Japan used the humiliation of Russia to claim its place among the powers of the Earth. Rather than reducing our navy, we should be enlarging it both to project our own confidence and to send a message to the Chinese leadership. Not to give them pause, but to tell them “Don’t even think about it.”

Given the administration’s ideological preference for American meekness, however, I don’t have much hope for change until at least 2013.

(via reader Lance)

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Obama’s FDR moment

September 22, 2009

Churchill once said to President Roosevelt, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.” It appears that President Obama has reached or is fast approaching that moment in Afghanistan, the war he has declared a war of necessity, for what else could one call it than a “crisis” when the nation’s top field commander threatens to resign if he doesn’t get the support he needs?

Within 24 hours of the leak of the Afghanistan assessment to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal’s team fired its second shot across the bow of the Obama administration. According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn’t given sufficient resources (read “troops”) to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan

(…)

In Kabul, some members of McChrystal’s staff said they don’t understand why Obama called Afghanistan a “war of necessity” but still hasn’t given them the resources they need to turn things around quickly.

Three officers at the Pentagon and in Kabul told McClatchy that the McChrystal they know would resign before he’d stand behind a faltering policy that he thought would endanger his forces or the strategy.

“Yes, he’ll be a good soldier, but he will only go so far,” a senior official in Kabul said. “He’ll hold his ground. He’s not going to bend to political pressure.”

I was going to write a long post analyzing and criticizing the White House’s unconscionable vacillation in our commitment to victory in Afghanistan (though that vacillation in any recent conflict seems to be a feature, not a bug, of the Democratic Party), but I really cannot do better than this piece by Baseball Crank, which I urge you to read.

Presidents have often had trouble with generals, of course. Truman famously had to fire MacArthur for insubordination, but found a superb (and superior) replacement in Ridgway. Lincoln ran through generals like a man changes socks until he found a group that was not only competent, but would actually fight.

But President Obama doesn’t have President Lincoln’s problem. General McChrystal is highly regarded and quite willing to fight. But, to implement the counterinsurgency strategy he recommends (and which is supported by his boss, General Petraeus, the guy who saved Iraq), he needs more troops, the request for which the article at Baseball Crank reminds us generated shocking warnings of a WTF moment at the White House.

The question then becomes “How committed is the White House to victory in the war it declared a ‘necessity?'” Or was this, as a prominent liberal blogger declared, “…a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy?” To turn Churchill’s statement into a question and ask it for General McChrystal, “Will you give us the tools to finish the job, Mr. President?”

Or will Americans be left asking “WTF?”

LINKS: Allahpundit; Ed Morrissey; PoliGazette.