12 December 2013

Rep. Forbes: Make China Bleed $$$; Budget Deal Stops “Hemorrhaging”

Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., “Rep. Forbes: Make China Bleed $$$; Budget Deal Stops ‘Hemorrhaging’,” Breaking Defense, 12 December 2013.

We shouldn’t try to meet China head-on, Naval War College professor Andrew Erickson told [House seapower subcommittee chairman Randy] Forbes’s subcommittee. (See Erickson’s written testimony). Beijing is investing in a wide array of increasingly advanced aircraft, warships, submarines, electronics, and a host of long-range missiles to keep US forces out of the West Pacific – a strategy China calls “counter-intervention” and we call “anti-access/area denial.” But, said Erickson, we shouldn’t spend ourselves into the ground trying to build a high-tech countermeasure for each new threat. Nor should we invest in an ambitious, expensive, and escalatory approach that relies either on striking targets on the Chinese mainland – a common criticism of the evolving Pentagon concept known as “Air-Sea Battle” – or on cutting off China’s sea trade and oil supply – a rival concept called “distant blockade.”

Instead, Erickson argued, the US and its allies need to realize we have a strategic advantage: We get to play defense. It’s China that wants to stake new claims to islands, waters, and, most recently, airspace. That means they have to come to us. All we have to do to win is keep them out. If they do grab an island before we can react, we just need to isolate the occupation force from supplies and reinforcements long enough to starve them out or blow them up.

So instead of trying to batter down China’s “anti-access/area denial” defenses, let them dash themselves to pieces against ours. Even if it was a draw, where each sides’ long range weapons kept the other at bay – an air and naval “no man’s land” like the Western Front in World War I – we win by default because it’s Beijing that staked its international reputation and domestic legitimacy on taking new ground, not us.

“The US and allies should maximize disruption capabilities, their own form of A2/AD, [to] deny China the ability to seize and hold offshore territories,” Erickson told the subcommittee. … “Here some pages can be taken from China’s own A2/AD playbook…. submarines, missiles, and sea mines.”

Forbes was quick to point out, “one of the things you did hear from the experts today…minimally we have to maintain a two Virginia-class sub build out a year.” The Virginia is America’s latest attack submarine (as opposed to a nuclear-missile-carrying sub) and is generally considered the hardest Navy vessel for the Chinese to kill.

The archived Webcast of the hearing is available here.

Click here for complete information on the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing,  “U.S. Asia-Pacific Strategic Considerations Related to PLA Naval Forces.”