Fri, Feb 22, 2013 - Page 8 News List

A new definition of military success

By J. Michael Cole 寇謐將

Survivability comports a number of elements, many of which have begun to be implemented over the years. Hardening targets, such as command-and-control centers, aircraft hangars and port facilities, while investing in quick airstrip repair kits are part of the program. Diversifying targets by spreading key defense items, such as combat aircraft and surface ships, has the twin advantage of requiring more resources on the part of the attacker, while increasing the survivability rate of the defender.

Doing so makes even more sense given that, despite an increasingly impressive air force and navy, China remains extremely reluctant to commit such high-profile items to a direct assault on Taiwan. Beijing’s strategy to attack the nation, therefore, is to rely on the Second Artillery Corps’ short and medium-range ballistic missiles to degrade Taiwan’s defense by attacking its Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaisance (C4ISR) architecture, ports, airports and other critical infrastructure. The more such high-value targets are spread out, and the greater the investment in redundancy, the less likely it is that Beijing would be able to strike an incapacitating blow.

Also working in Taiwan’s favor in this regard are its early warning radars (EWR), such as the one that came online earlier this month on Leshan (樂山), Hsinchu County. Coupled with its PAC-3 and Tien Kung II air defense systems, Taiwan would probably survive an initial missile attack, or at least have enough advance warning to ensure its combat aircraft and anchored vessels take off or disperse before airstrips and ports are attacked.

As high-value targets such as the Leshan EWR would likely be the first items on the PLA’s list (in this specific case, probably by overwhelming it with anti-radiation missiles), Taiwan will want to further increase redundancy and dispersal of its surveillance capability, something that can be achieved through greater investments in unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite-based technology.

Meanwhile, its domestic intelligence agencies will need to work harder to counter Chinese espionage, which remains especially focused on Taiwan’s C4ISR systems and how it communicates with US systems based in the region. All of this can be achieved without the kind of capital injections associated with high-profile arms acquisitions, such as modern destroyers and advanced aircraft.

Similarly, Taiwan’s far less capital-intensive “offensive defense” posture also requires increased survivability and dispersal, something that can be achieved by basing launchers on Taiwan proper, as well as on outlying islands. Taipei can also take a lesson straight out of the PLA handbook by increasing the number of road-mobile launchers for its cruise missiles, which by far represent the current greatest deterrent in its arsenal.

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