Saturday, March 02, 2013

But Is It Good Enough?

Who knew that "don't get involved in a land war in Asia" is advice for the Chinese to take to heart?

A retired Chinese army officer (a general) has caused an unpleasant situation for the military leadership by going public with details of corruption in the army. ... [His]Internet posts provide details on how the thefts cripple the ability of the troops to fight, or even operate, effectively. Historically, this is old news, as is the usually very poor performance of the Chinese military in the opening stages of a war. China is a large country, so wars usually lasted long enough for the corruption to be quashed and more competent leadership to set things right. ... The navy and air force have a way to fight corruption that the army lacks. The government can provide more money to have ships at sea and aircraft in the air more often. You can’t fake that and the best training for sailors and pilots (and their maintenance crews) is constant use of their expensive equipment.

For Japan, which would not face the Chinese army if it came to a war over the Senkakus, this doesn't help.

But for Taiwan, it should offer some hope that even if the Chinese blow past their growing arsenal of missiles to throw an army ashore on their island, that invading army will have problems that will magnify the problems that afflict any army conducting an airborne and amphibious invasion. If Taiwan counter-attacks quickly while the invaders are still disordered, China could experience a defeat that will deter another invasion for a generation.

Taiwan could do that if the Taiwanese army is good enough to exploit the difficulties the Chinese will face invading with an army that is already degraded by corruption.

And assuming the troops China sends to invade aren't the least corrupt they have.

What bothers me most about our pivot to the Pacific and Air Sea Battle (yes, officially "Land" is now thrown in but it seems like a formality) is that it neglects the Army, which in the long run may be the service that has the best edge over their Chinese counterparts given China's army-centric corruption problems.

In the end, what really matters is, are the Chinese good enough to defeat the enemies they fight? Remember, the Soviet army beat the German army in World War II despite the Germans having arguably the best trained and led army in the war.