Thursday, February 21, 2019

Could China's Learning Curve Go Through Russia?

I've noted that China's shiny new weapons need the training and skills of soldiers and commanders to make them as effective as they look. And I've hoped that the problems we can see on our side in readiness is more than matched by readiness problems in the military forces of potential enemies.

So this is comforting:

A large body of evidence in China’s official military and party media indicates the nation’s senior civilian and uniformed leaders recognize significant shortcomings in the warfighting and command capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). However, most of this evidence is not translated into English for public consumption and is not considered in much of the foreign analysis of China’s growing military capabilities. This situation is not new, but goes back for decades.

Yet, the increasing scope and frequency of these self-critiques during the tenure of Xi Jinping as chairman of the Central Military Commission casts doubt over the senior party and military leadership’s confidence in the PLA’s ability to prevail in battle against a modern enemy. Furthermore, the limitations illustrated by these internal assessments will likely moderate China’s near- and mid-term national security objectives and the manner in which they are pursued. This lack of confidence in PLA capabilities contributes to Beijing’s preference to achieve China’s national objectives through deterrence and actions short of war.

This is especially comforting given that I've worried that China's rulers might wrongly believe they have a military ready for war.

Unless this is a case of appearing far (from ready for war) when near(ly ready for war).

Even if this report about Chinese problems is not disinformation, what if the Chinese think they are in a rare period of unreadiness parity with America that will evaporate as we take care of our evident problems?

But even if the Chinese weaknesses are real and America isn't at risk because of them, if China wants to demonstrate its power to the world (to America?) so China doesn't have to fight to achieve objectives,* how does China overcome their recognized "peace disease" (China's term) of lacking combat experience without a war against their primary potential foe, America?

Could Russia be the potential target to demonstrate China's power to America without fighting America? And getting combat experience at the same time?

Have a super sparkly day.

*As the initial article writes, "By raising its warfighting capabilities and demonstrating them to the world, the PLA seeks to enhance its deterrence posture directed at a variety of threats to China’s national interests and to achieve China’s political objectives without fighting."