A former official from the Pentagon has warned the U.S. to seriously consider making military improvements if it wishes to counter China’s rising power. According to David Ochmanek, former deputy assistant secretary of defense, China’s military has made rapid advancement over the past two years, so much that Beijing is preparing to exploit any perceived U.S. weakness.
The Chinese threat
“[Americans] now face two such adversaries — China and Russia — and wargaming and analysis show that U.S. forces today are not well prepared for either of these challenges… Should U.S. allies and partners lose confidence in the ability of American forces to project conventional power into their regions, and to deter intimidation and defeat aggression, an important part of the glue that has held together the coalition keeping the peace and advancing common interests will be lost,” Ochmanek said to News.Com.Au.
Beijing is reportedly fielding a set of defense capabilities that have the potential to thwart U.S. attempts to keep Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific under check. Beijing’s large repertoire of missiles has the capability to target U.S. defense satellites. The Asian country is also building a network of bases throughout the Indo-Pacific that will eventually strengthen their military strike ability throughout the region. If the U.S. does not give a strong answer to these military developments, peace and stability in the region will be undermined.
Another huge concern is America’s fiscal issues. The tax cuts announced last year will put the U.S. budget in the red by US$1 trillion every year by 2020. And though the U.S. defense budget for 2019 rose by 9.3 percent compared to the 2017 figure, most of the money is going into manpower, training, and maintenance of existing military technologies instead of developing new capabilities.
The problem of logistics
U.S. defense forces will also face a huge challenge in providing supplies to their forces in an all-out war with China. For most of the past two decades, the U.S. has been fighting wars in the Middle East where it has not faced much resistance from the opposing forces when it comes to delivering supplies. However, an emerging China is an entirely new ballgame.
Russia and China combined possess advanced aircraft and long-range missiles that can target U.S. shipping. Unfortunately, the American military is currently not equipped to deal with such scenarios. For instance, though the U.S. has military bases in Korea and Japan to fight Chinese in the South China Sea, Beijing has the necessary aircraft and missiles to quickly strike down supplies from and to these places.
Two years ago, Frank Kendall, the head of Pentagon acquisition, signed a memo that highlighted these supply concerns. “Some operations will have no secure rear areas from which to provide logistics support… In addition, support may have to be provided closer to the areas of active combat and on a much more distributed and disaggregated basis,” said the memo (Breaking Defense).
The U.S. cannot fight Chinese the way they have been fighting against rogue governments and insurgents in the Middle East, where it had the luxury of having warehouses filled with supplies all the time. There is an urgent need for the U.S. to modernize its missile defense systems, anti-ship missiles, military communications, and radar jamming systems if it has to deter an attack from a technologically advanced China in the future.