In a war game called “Pacific Vision” run by the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in Hawaii, aviators concluded that US air power would defeat a “near-peer competitor” in the Asia-Pacific region over the next seven years — provided a strategy of dispersal is adopted and certain investments are made.
For “near-peer competitor,” read China. But Air Force officers said that the adversary could also be a resurgent Russia. In any case, the war game was intended not only to test strategy but also to deter others from miscalculating US power and intentions.
General Carroll Chandler, who commands PACAF, said in an interview: “I asked them to look at what we think we need to carry out our mission, particularly when we have finite resources.” A staff officer said the general, in effect, “asked us to tell him where he should spend his next dollar.”
Meanwhile, the publication Defense News reported on a RAND study that suggested “US air power in the Pacific would be inadequate to thwart a Chinese attack on Taiwan in 2020.”
Among the conclusions drawn from the war game were:
Dispersal: Before hostilities begin, US fighters, bombers and aerial tankers should be dispersed to bases along an arc anchored in Alaska and wending south through Japan, South Korea and Guam and on to Southeast Asia and Australia. Said one officer: “This would complicate targeting for an adversary.”
Access: The US should intensify efforts to cultivate nations along that arc, including treaty allies, to ensure access to bases there and the freedom to operate in the event of hostilities.
Hardening: Aircraft hangers, command posts, electrical plants, ammunition depots and supply warehouses should be hardened to withstand attack, particularly from missiles rapidly being acquired or developed by China.
Repair: Crews and equipment to repair damaged bases should be trained and positioned so they can move quickly to bases where needed. Airfield runways, for instance, would need to be repaired quickly after an attack.
Tankers: The age of the Air Force’s tankers was documented. Because of distances in the Pacific, more tankers would be needed to defend the region than were needed in Europe to deter the former Soviet Union.
Stealth: Advantages of stealth technology that permits B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters to evade radar detection were validated. “We are sure that we can shoot them before they can see us,” a staff officer said.
Communications: The war game underscored the vulnerability of communications because the Air Force relies on unprotected commercial channels. Moreover, China destroyed an inactive satellite last year with an anti-satellite missile.
Integration: Aircraft carriers and submarines armed with cruise missiles would need to be dispersed like land-based aircraft. The Navy was represented in the war game but work was needed to integrate war plans.
Intelligence: The need for Global Hawk, an unmanned reconnaissance plane that can fly great distances, covering 100,000km² a day in all weather, was confirmed. The first of three Global Hawks will be sent to Guam next year.
Cyber Warfare: Officials discovered that the US is lagging in cyber warfare, from jamming radar to attacking computer networks as well as protecting radar and computers. China has emphasized cyber operations.
Control: The Air Operations Center in the 13th Air Force has been running for two years. PACAF and the 13th Air Force would fight an aerial war in the region through the center, which must improve controls over widely dispersed forces.
PACAF plans to apply these lessons. One officer said: “We’ve maintained a long period of peace because we continually prepare for war. That’s what Pacific Vision was all about.”
Richard Halloran is a writer based in Honolulu.
When Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping (習近平) wakes up one morning and decides that his People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can win a war to conquer Taiwan, that is when his war will begin. To ensure that Xi never gains that confidence it is now necessary for the United States to shed any notions of “forbearance” in arms sales to Taiwan. Largely because they could guarantee military superiority on the Taiwan Strait, US administrations from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama practiced “forbearance” — pre-emptive limitation of arms sales to Taiwan — in hopes of gaining diplomatic leverage with Beijing. President Ronald
Communist China’s Global Times warned US President Joe Biden in the first week of this month that he “should make a significant response to China’s sincerity within his first 100 days, as the sincerity and patience will not last forever.” In fact, they lasted only days. By the end of the week, Beijing had laid down the law, so to speak, to the Biden administration. First was a speech billed as a “Dialogue with National Committee on US-China Relations,” by Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), director of China’s Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs. Yang said he was pleased “to have
The Canadian parliament on Monday passed a motion saying that China’s human rights abuses against the country’s Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang constitute “genocide.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far avoided using the word genocide in regard to Xinjiang, but if he did, it would begin to generate solidarity among G7 nations on the issue — which is something Trudeau has called for. Former US president Donald Trump used the word genocide regarding Xinjiang before leaving office last month, and members of US President Joe Biden’s administration have been pushing for him to make the same declaration, a Reuters report
Three years ago, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) raised quite a few eyebrows when she proposed abolishing Taiwan’s zhuyin fuhao (注音符號, Mandarin phonetic symbols commonly known as “Bopomofo”) system in her bid to become Tainan mayor. Yeh did not make it onto the ballot, and it was not clear how she would have begun to implement such a gargantuan change locally. Not only is Bopomofo learned by all schoolchildren in Taiwan, it is the most popular system for typing Chinese in the nation, despite being considered one of the least efficient input methods. Bopomofo has also become