[ALERT] Pentagon Report Warns — CHINA PREPARING TO STRIKE AMERICA -China’s Military “Is Likely Training for Strikes” Against US and Allied Targets in the Pacific

The annual report to Congress says China is increasing its ability to send bomber planes further afield.

The report highlights its increasing military capability, including defence spending estimated at $190bn (£150bn) – a third that of the US.

China has not yet commented on the report.

What else does the report say?
The warning about air strikes is one part of a comprehensive assessment of China’s military and economic ambitions.

“Over the last three years, the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report says.

It goes on to say it is not clear what China is trying to prove by such flights.

The PLA may demonstrate the “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam,” the report adds.

The report highlights its increasing military capability, including defence spending estimated at $190bn (£150bn) – a third that of the US.

China has not yet commented on the report.

What else does the report say?
The warning about air strikes is one part of a comprehensive assessment of China’s military and economic ambitions.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions are global. Its interests are global. It plans to send military units wherever its global strategic interests require.”

Amphibious warfare specialists say these marines would also be useful for seizing other disputed territory, including the uninhabited group of isles in the East China Sea that are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing – known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China.

Selected army units are being transferred to the marines to boost the force’s capability, according to reports in the official Chinese military media and Western defense analysts. China’s official military newspaper, the PLA Daily, reported in April that two army units trained in aerial assault had been transferred to a marines brigade dedicated to helicopter landings.

The Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power in 2018 revealed that a newly established headquarters under the command of the navy was responsible for staffing, training and equipping the expanding force. And, the report said, a new commander had been appointed to lead the marines. China’s state-controlled media has identified him as Major General Kong Jun, a former army officer who transferred to the marines in early 2017.

Despite this build-up, the Pentagon and other Western military experts argue the PLA marines remain far less capable than the 186,000-strong U.S. Marine Corps, with its extensive experience of amphibious and land operations.

In its 2019 report on China’s military power, the Pentagon said most of the new PLA marines brigades were not yet manned and equipped to be fully operational. It said China’s marines lacked sufficient armored vehicles, helicopters and training to conduct complex amphibious operations.

Some Western military experts suggest one reason for this: The top priorities for the PLA brass are the army amphibious units and air force airborne troops that would spearhead an attack on Taiwan. So, the marines “don’t have priority when it comes to things like amphibious tanks and helicopters,” said Easton of the Project 2049 Institute, who has written a book, The Chinese Invasion Threat, on the PLA’s preparations to conquer Taiwan.

The ruling Communist Party has long wanted control of Taiwan for political reasons. The island also has huge strategic importance. It would give the PLA a key foothold in the so-called first island chain, the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago through Taiwan, the Philippines and on to Borneo, enclosing China’s coastal seas. From bases on Taiwan, Chinese warships, strike aircraft and missiles would dominate the sea lanes vital to Japan and South Korea. And Taiwan would be an ideal jump-off point for operations aimed at seizing further territory in the island chain.

Newsham, the retired U.S. Marine colonel, said the PLA had assembled a formidable army amphibious force and sufficient ships, military and civilian, to probably land enough troops on Taiwan as part of a full-scale attack that includes air, missile, naval and cyber assaults. “The PLA already has a lot lined up,” he said.

China, it says, is restructuring its ground forces to “fight and win”.

“The purpose of these reforms is to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations,” the report says.

China’s military budget is expected to expand to $240bn over the next 10 years, according to the assessment.

It also highlights China’s growing space programme “despite its public stance against the militarization of space”.

In June, President Donald Trump announced his intentions to set up a sixth branch of the US armed forces – a “space force”.

Why is Trump creating a space force?
Where are the areas of tension?
The US is concerned about China’s growing influence in the Pacific, where Washington still plays a major role.

One of the most high-profile areas is the South China Sea, much of it claimed by China and other countries.

“Over the last three years, the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report says.

It goes on to say it is not clear what China is trying to prove by such flights.

The PLA may demonstrate the “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam,” the report adds.

The US military regularly seeks to demonstrate freedom of navigation by flying over the South China Sea.

China has been expanding what appear to be military facilities on islands and reefs in the area, and it has landed bombers on the outposts during training exercises.

Another flashpoint is Taiwan, which is seen by China as a breakaway province.

The document warns that China “is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with China by force”.

“Should the United States intervene, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration,” the report says.

In a nod to China, the US cut formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 but continues to maintain close political and security ties, which irks Beijing.

Trump lays out hike in military spending
Why is the South China Sea contentious?
The US also continues to maintain a substantial military presence in Japan, which has its own territorial disputes with China.

Tensions also continue in the non-military sphere. The US and China have announced tariffs on a range of each other’s goods.

China is launching new amphibious assault ships and beefing up its marines. Its main aim is to project power far from home, but it is also strengthening its ability to invade Taiwan.

HONG KONG – China launched its military build-up in the mid-1990s with a top priority: keep the United States at bay in any conflict by making the waters off the Chinese coast a death trap. Now, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is preparing to challenge American power further afield.

China’s shipyards have launched the PLA Navy’s first two Type 075 amphibious assault ships, which will form the spearhead of an expeditionary force to play a role similar to that of the U.S. Marine Corps. And like the Marines, the new force will be self-contained – able to deploy solo with all its supporting weapons to fight in distant conflicts or demonstrate Chinese military power.

The rise of the maritime militia

While the bulk of the Pentagon’s annual China report focuses on Beijing’s rapidly developing military capabilities, the study also looks in some depth at China’s little known Maritime Militia.

This is an armed civilian reserve force, organised and recruited locally, but according to the Pentagon, the Militia plays a vital role in the South China Sea, spreading Beijing’s political goals through operations short of outright war.

A large number of Militia vessels support the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard in safeguarding maritime claims, protecting fisheries and so on.

The Pentagon study says that the Militia has played a significant role in a number of high-profile incidents, where Chinese vessels have sought to coerce ships from countries with competing maritime claims.

This is all part of China’s effort to promote so-called “grey operations”, designed to frustrate the response of other parties involved and secure its interests across a wide swathe of reefs and island chains.

Prepare for War or Fight Coronavirus? U.S. Military Battles Competing Instincts
The Navy has so far refused to completely evacuate the Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier where 93 service members have been confirmed to be infected.

WASHINGTON — One of the hallmarks of the United States military is its ability to project power around the world, often under the banner of slogans intended to strike fear in its adversaries. “Ready to fight tonight” for U.S. troops in South Korea; “America’s 911” for the Marine Corps expeditionary units at sea; the list goes on.

But now the foe is a novel coronavirus, and it has struck deep. More than 1,200 military personnel and their family members are affected, disabling a talisman of American military might — a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier — and leaving the Defense Department virtually at war with itself over two competing instincts: protecting troops from the virus and continuing its decades-old mission of patrolling the globe and engaging in combat, if ordered to do so.

The Navy is thus far refusing to completely evacuate an aircraft carrier where 93 service members have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has put himself on the side of business as usual in maintaining readiness while also saying that force protection is a top priority. President Trump, for his part, threatened a familiar foe, tweeting on Wednesday that Iran would “pay a very heavy price” if its proxies attacked American troops or assets in Iraq. Other Defense Department officials continued to insist that the aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, remain ready to carry out its missions.

The commander of the Roosevelt, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, pointed out in a strongly worded letter that “we are not at war.” That statement raised questions from the Pacific to the Pentagon of what was so important about the aircraft carrier’s presence off the coast of Guam that the Defense Department could not evacuate the ship and do a deep cleaning, as suggested by Captain Crozier.

The authors make the case that the kind of country China becomes, and the way that its military evolves, is neither foreordained nor completely beyond the influence of the United States or U.S. military. However, Beijing’s intense preoccupation with internal security and deep suspicions regarding U.S. intentions toward China may frustrate attempts by Washington to improve bilateral relations and encourage more liberal domestic policies.

“The experience of COVID-19 is a prime example,” said Andrew Scobell, the study’s lead author and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. “Beijing’s secretive approach to the pandemic has exacerbated tensions with a wide array of other countries, including the United States, and contributed to economic dislocation (aka ‘decoupling’) between China and some of its key trading partners. While Beijing seems to have been effective in dealing with the pandemic at home, this has been accomplished through draconian and repressive measures.”

To map out potential future scenarios—What will China, and its military, look like in 2050? What will U.S.-China relations look like in 2050?—researchers studied trends in the management of politics and society and analyzed the specific national-level strategies and plans that China’s Communist Party rulers have put in place to further their vision of a China that is well governed, socially stable, economically prosperous, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the PRC.

The report describes four possible scenarios for China at mid-century—triumphant, ascendant, stagnant and imploding—with the middle two most likely. If China proves ascendant, the U.S. military should anticipate increased risk to already threatened forward-based forces in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, as well as a loss of the ability to operate routinely in the air and sea space above and in the Western Pacific.

The report recommends that the U.S Army be prepared for a China whose role on the Asia-Pacific and global stages grows steadily. To prepare for military conflict in such circumstances, the U.S. Army should optimize its abilities to deter hostilities, get troops and equipment to hotspots quickly, operate from forward bases, and work with allied forces.

The United States could field more robust cyber and network attack capabilities and other means to counter China’s unmanned aircraft systems, the authors assert. The capacity to respond quickly and effectively to China’s burgeoning reconnaissance-strike system will play an important role in determining the extent to which China’s leadership remains risk averse when considering military options to resolve regional disputes.

The report, conducted for the U.S. Army, is based on a review of Chinese and Western literature on the PRC’s long-term strategic development and security plans and objectives, official statements by high-level Chinese officials and institutions, speeches by paramount leaders, white papers published by the Ministry of National Defense and other PRC government agencies, authoritative People’s Liberation Army (PLA) texts, as well as Western and other non-Chinese analyses of these documents.

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