Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Take the Core Bandaid Off Fast

China needs to defeat Taiwan's military before America can intervene. Slowing down our potential intervention by building anti-access/area denial capabilities to require time-consuming mobilization of American resources is one method of doing that. Speeding up the conquest of Taiwan is the other way. China's airborne forces could be the key.

Naturally, China's marines get some attention when the issue of Taiwan comes up. China has expanded their marine force but not enough to be a threat to Taiwan and with insufficient amphibious lift to be a real threat.:

“This expansion and upgrade has been part of the broader military overhaul taking place in recent years,” said Li Jie, a naval expert based in Beijing.

“It has nothing to do with the American structure but has grown out of the military’s own needs. There are more and more maritime interests to defend, especially islands and reefs.”

Li said a much stronger amphibious combat force was needed given rising tensions over the South China Sea, and Beijing’s goal for reunification with Taiwan – to be achieved by force if necessary.

The idea that a lack of American-style amphibious assets means China can't cross the Taiwan Strait is wrong. No "million-man swim" is needed.

And while some see the marines China has as intended to attack Taiwan, I think the whole issue of marine-led amphibious invasion like D-Day is a red herring. I think the Chinese marines are largely intended to directly support the Chinese navy in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Chinese airborne forces are another matter. These have also been strengthened:

The 15th Airborne Corps, based in Xiaogan, Hubei province, was made directly subordinate to the Central Military Commission (CMC), serving as rapid a reaction force and part of the strategic reserve. With the modernization of the PLA in recent years, the 15th Airborne Corps also acquired stronger fire power and higher mobility. Following the military reforms initiated in 2016, the term “airborne brigade” started to appear in Chinese media. After the restructuring of the military in 2017, the four-tier commanding system (corps-division-regiment-battalion) has been flattened to three tiers (corps-brigade-battalion). At the same time, the 15th Airborne Corps was renamed simply the Airborne Corps.

This airborne force represents another way to defeat Taiwan before America intervenes by shortening the time it takes to land a force on Taiwan and defeat the Taiwanese. I think the reforms to brigade-based forces makes their use as the spearhead of an invasion of Taiwan more effective.

I think the amphibious aspect of an invasion will see the Chinese going right for the jugular with army units hitting the navigable Tamshui River to land close to and possibly right at the capital Taipei. Maybe a couple Chinese marine brigades will spearhead this effort, but it probably isn't necessary if the airborne corps is the main effort dropping around the capital where it can seize an airport to airlift in reinforcements. I don't know if that unit still exists. But if it doesn't, others could surely be used in its place.

Take Taipei and the follow-on Chinese army units arriving by sea that I once thought of as a key element to reinforce the airborne landings can more easily move into ports when Taiwan's leadership is in chaos as broken remnants of Taiwan's military struggle to hold the capital from the main sea and airborne first wave.

By the time America is capable of intervening, the invasion could be all over except for the executions of Taiwanese counter-revolutionaries, mass deportations to Xinjiang, the deployment of People's Armed Police to control the island's remaining people, and Han colonists moving in.