23 March 2012

Sinica Rules the Waves? The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Power Projection and Anti-Access/Area Denial Lessons from the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict

Christopher D. Yung, Sinica Rules the Waves? The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Power Projection and Anti-Access/Area Denial Lessons from the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict,” in Andrew Scobell, David Lai, and Roy Kamphausen, eds., Chinese Lessons From Other Peoples’ Wars (Carlisle, PA: Army War College Strategic Studies Institute and National Bureau of Asian Research, 2011), 75-114.

Introduction, p. 22: Chinese strategic planners place a high priority on an accurate pre-conflict strategic assessment; indeed a singular criticism of Argentina in the Falklands/Malvinas was that Buenos Aires failed to conduct a comprehensive strategic assessment in the run-up to its own actions that precipitated the conflict.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This chapter examines the lessons the Chinese military has drawn from the Falklands/Malvinas conflict of 1982 and applied (doctrinally, operationally, and in terms of procurement) to the expected contingencies of Taiwan and an “Out of Area” maritime campaign.

MAIN ARGUMENT

Chinese analysts highlight the following conclusions, which serve as guidance for the operations practiced and executed, doctrine being developed, and weapon systems and platforms procured. These conclusions are: “Know your enemy, know yourself”; the importance of tactical estimates and correct deployment/employment of forces; the importance of tactical and war-fighting guidelines (doctrine); the importance of effective systems of command and control; the importance of national mobilization and defense economy; “Take your protection with you”; the importance of bases and access to facilities; the paramount importance of air power; the important role of merchant shipping; the role of amphibious forces; and logistics as force multiplier or “Achilles Heel.”

POLICY IMPLICATIONS

•  Owing to their applicability to China’s defense of the “Near Seas,” the Chinese military are likely to continue procuring or developing into a mature capability diesel-electric submarines, modern surface combatants, land-based and sea-based maritime strike aircraft, anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and maritime surveillance capabilities to track and target ships at sea.

•  Owing to their applicability to China’s “Out of Area” maritime campaigns, the Chinese military are likely to continue procuring or developing L-class amphibious ships, aircraft carrier capabilities, nuclear attack submarines, aerial refueling capabilities, anreplenishment ships.

•  Operationally, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will continue participating in exercises that stress combined arms ground-sea-air operations; amphibious operations; coordination among surface combatants, air forces, and subsurface forces; command and control of forces afloat, in the air, and ashore; and a combination of general purpose forces with ballistic missiles and other Second Artillery forces.

•  The PLA will seek to gain access (temporarily or periodically) to a naval support facility far from China’s shores, will continue to practice its operations far from Mainland China in conjunction with foreign partners, and will continue to operate “Out of Area” in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and in other foreign locations. …

See also Lyle Goldstein, “China’s Falklands Lessons,” Survival 50.3 (June 2008): 65-82.

For full text of the chapter cited, see Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Sea Power in Action: the Counter-Piracy Mission in the Gulf of Aden and Beyond,” in Roy Kamphausen, David Lai, and Andrew Scobell, eds., The PLA at Home and Abroad: Assessing the Operational Capabilities of China’s Military (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College and National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010), 295-376.