Friday, March 02, 2018

Drive Them into the Sea--Or Else

This essay looking at China's experience with amphibious warfare with an eye to invading Taiwan has an important part on the need for Taiwan to effectively counter-attack invaders early:

The [Taiwanese] counterattack at Kinmen is an important lesson for Taiwan; short of defeating the invasion force during the embarkation or transit phases, the ability to conduct strong counterattacks prior to the establishment of a lodgment is critical to defeating the island landing campaign. A major counterintelligence concern for Taiwan is the level of Communist penetration of the military leading to debilitating internal sabotage during a crisis, a concern reinforced by a spate of recent espionage cases, some of which have included military personnel. Such sabotage could debilitate command as well as situational awareness at a critical time, causing paralysis.

I concur, as I stated in this scenario for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan:

The peacetime Taiwanese army will largely be in their barracks or struggling to reach the coast where the Chinese will be hitting relatively undefended and operating ports. If subversion or psychological warfare operations against the Taiwanese army are successful, not all units will move to fight the Chinese and the ones that do will be wary of their neighbors and so will fight and move more cautiously. Leadership will hesitate moving units because they will be unsure of loyalties. Slowing down the reaction of the Taiwanese units will aid the Chinese in heading inland and securing ports.

I later wrote that allowing the Chinese army to remain on Taiwan poses a lethal danger:

Will we face a situation where, after several weeks, the US Navy arrives in force to contest the line of supply in the Taiwan Strait, American fighters slowly gain air superiority, and an American Marine regimental combat team and Stryker brigade start to flow into Taiwanese harbors and airports; but China has 100,000 combat troops dug in around one or more Taiwanese ports?

What do we do then? Do we spearhead the counter-attack with our ground forces, bombing Chinese forces with our precision air power? Do we counter-attack in force into the Taiwan Strait to cut off the Chinese expeditionary force on Taiwan and try to starve them into submission?

And will China risk the best of their PLA (they'd have to be the best to carry out a difficult amphibious/airborne invasion) and refrain from using nuclear weapons to retrieve a crumbling situation?

And will we agree to a ceasefire in place to avoid the threat of a wider, possibly nuclear, war between America and China? And then the Taiwanes and Chinese will both exercise control over portions of the same real estate.

Remember, avoiding defeat is certainly necessary to avoid disaster. But that is far from the only military mission Taiwan should aspire to carry out. It would be long-term disaster to allow China to get a foothold on Taiwan.

Taiwan can't accept anything less than the annihilation of an invasion force that reaches their shores. Anything less just sets the stage for a Chinese build up on Taiwan for the next round that finally conquers Taiwan.