Monday, April 16, 2012

Right for the Jugular

For all the talk of China gaining the ability to bombard Taiwan with missiles or blockading Taiwan, those are military threats that Taiwan should pray are China's main ideas on how to use their military to coerce Taiwan. Either of those methods give Taiwan the most precious asset of all--time. Time to mobilize, time to fight back, and time to get America and Japan involved in their defense. No, the biggest threat to Taiwan is that China will fling an army across the Taiwan Strait and hold American intervention off long enough to defeat the Taiwanese military.

Taiwan is practicing an interesting scenario that includes mobilizing thousands of reservists:

The mobilised reservists will take part in "Han Kuang (Han Glory) No 28", a five-day drill beginning Monday that will play out a scenario in which the enemy attempts to invade the capital, defence ministry officials said.

That's interesting. But it didn't have details. So I searched a bit more:

Hundreds of troops were also deployed outside Taipei as the military simulated a Chinese landing on the shores of the Tamshui River, which flows through the capital, defence ministry officials said.

This is the region:

That red blob is Taipei, the capital.

I have long assumed a Chinese invasion would go right for Taipei, but I assumed the direct attack would be by airborne assault with amphibious operations in the northwest that would attempt to rapidly advance on the capital to relieve the airborne forces. The amphibious operation at the river mouth is an interesting detail.

I've assumed Chinese amphibious assets might be used for hitting the Pescadores Islands west of Taiwan's main island. Taking those islands would tend to freeze Taiwanese forces in the south by opening the threat of additional Chinese invasion from that forward base.

But perhaps even the Pescadores would be a distraction from the main objective of grabbing the seat of power on Taiwan. If speed is the key to China winning (by defeating Taiwan before America can lead an intervention), maybe China uses their limited amphibious assets to hit the mouth of the Tamshui (or Tamsui) River and advance on Taipei to support airborne forces also hitting the capital. Indeed, the river is apparently navigable, and so the Chinese might be able to sail ro-ro (loaded with tanks and other heavy equipment) and container ships right into the river to reinforce the lighter amphibious and airborne forces fighting inside Taipei.

Amphibious operations using older warships and civilian merchant ships to hit northern ports would take place as I speculated, and then drive on Taipei with heavier ground forces brought in by ships through the captured ports.

But at least the Taiwanese aren't assuming that China can't invade them. That's the only real threat to their de facto independence and freedom they face, and it should be faced head on.

UPDATE: Another part of my invasion assumption was part of the exercise:

Taiwan on Thursday tested its ability to defend one of it largest air bases against Chinese invasion, a scenario experts insisted remained relevant in an age of missile and cyber attacks.

They practiced defending against air and paratroop attack.

Yet the idea that it is somewhat surprising that Taiwan would practice such a thing in an age of missile and cyber attacks amuses me. Just how the heck else does the writer think one country will occupy the territory of another?

UPDATE: This article has a lot of pictures from the exercises.