Thursday, December 26, 2019

Expanding Power Meets Expanding Enemies

China's expanding power pushes them to expand into more resistance.

China is probing west at sea, with survey ships, warships, and submarines:

NED-917-The Next South China Sea infographic - 0

India is bolstering their defenses at the eastern gates to the Andaman Sea, as I mentioned nearly a year ago:

India will open a third base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands to block China. These islands are hardly "far-off" islands given that they are right at the entry to the Bay of Bengal, overlooking the Malacca Strait that is a choke point going east or west from Singapore.

The Indian effort is older, of course.

India's virtual "island" status in confronting China is undermined if China can project military power into the Indian Ocean. But don't forget China's anti-ship ballistic missiles which threaten India's navy as much as America's.

India has a lot of work to do, and its efforts projecting power east pale in comparison to China's effort pushing west. India will benefit from American logistics help and needs allies in the South China Sea region. At some point the Indians need to seriously bolster Taiwan's anti-ship--especially submarines--capabilities.

Australia has a role as a pivot point between the Pacific and Indian Oceans in what is now a single American focus with the renamed INDOPACOM (I will again whine that my suggestion for PAINCOM was not used).

And America has an outpost at Singapore to watch the passage from China to the Indian Ocean, as I noted in this recent data dump:

The Navy is finally getting its LCS deployed to Singapore for South China Sea missions that deny that China controls the sea. Good. That version of the LCS looks cool as Hell yet if lost in a bolt-from-the-blue Chinese attack isn't a major hit to our naval capabilities. Sorry to be callous about the crew--I'm not--but the reality is we can choose to risk an LCS or a carrier or destroyer ,and I choose the former.

It's a big and complicated theater. Although the main threat--China--simplifies the issue.

UPDATE: From Strategypage:

For now smaller warships and land-based aircraft will defend Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

There is another problem with those claims; many Chinese neighbors have increased their defense spending specifically to deal with the Chinese navy. The American naval forces in the western Pacific plus the fleets of South Korea and Japan were already a formidable naval force blocking Chinese use of gunboat diplomacy. But now many smaller nations are allied with the larger anti-Chinese nations and those smaller nations are buying lots of submarines, fighter-bombers with anti-ship missiles as well as shore based anti-ship missiles. The Chinese plan to build more warships and intimidate neighbors into submission backfired. The many threatened neighbors united and joined an arms race China cannot afford.

There is more on Chinese financial and demographic problems. Did you forget that issue?