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"Think we have military primacy over China? Think again" Topic

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Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 7:06 p.m. PST

"Here's a fact that ought to startle every American who assumes that because we spendnearly$1trillion each year on defense, we have primacy over our emerging rival, China.

'Over the past decade, in U.S. war games against China, the United States has a nearly perfect record: We have lost almost every single time.'"


arealdeadone13 May 2020 7:18 p.m. PST

Its not a case of money but rather how is it spent.

US defence procurement is messy and inefficient and full of what can only be described as endemic corruption.

US also spends a lot of money funding activities which don't contribute much to US defence or national interests such as special operations in Africa or in the past costly and pointless invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese on the other hand have a very coherent strategy with clear goals, avoid pointless wars and their military industry is all owned by the government and as such doesn't have to focus on profit generation.

And as China's manufacturing base is quite secure, it doesn't have to use its military to subsidise industrial output like it does in US and elsewhere eg ship building in many western states is purely military these days – without military orders, those ship yards close.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 8:01 p.m. PST

One other advantage China has. Our troops and paid and theirs are slave soldiers.

arealdeadone13 May 2020 8:13 p.m. PST

I wouldn't call conscripts slave soldiers.

I don't think the paid professional military has worked too well most western militaries are critically understaffed and below numbers.

It's amazing when you read about entire fully functional warships being put into reserve due to lack of crew to man them (recently happened in Australia and UK). USAF alone has 2,100 pilot shortfall.



And in some countries like Taiwan, many units are down to 60-80% manpower after the end of conscription.


Rich westerners don't like getting their hands dirty or doing anything remotely like civil service. Freedom in the west means narcissism and doing whatever one likes at the expense of society as a whole,

And before someone says: "why don't you put your money where your mouth is and join" the ADF rejected me on account of poor depth perception (yet I still hit targets with a rifle and I wanted to serve in intelligence anyhow)!

Stryderg13 May 2020 8:32 p.m. PST

I wanted to serve in intelligence anyhow

That alone would disqualify you for the position.
ba-dum-boom, Thank you, I'll be here all week and please tip your waitress!

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

wapo, yeah right. We believe everything they print. LOL.

Memento Mori13 May 2020 9:26 p.m. PST

Remember the US won most of the wargames against Japan in the 1920s and 1930s. Maybe losing a few this time may make them look at alternate plans.

Despite what many think China does not need world supremacy just control of the Western Pacific. The seizure and explorations of assets in the South China sea gives China an extension to its Great Wall Previously China's Wall controlled the land to the west and north leaving the maritime door wide open. China is now closing that gap


China wants control of the central area placing in invaders a long way from the Chinese heartland as well as trade routes. To understand China look where its walls are

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 9:44 p.m. PST

I'm really surprised they haven't made a claim on the Philippines Islands yet.

I suspect that IS coming at some point in the future, given recent other expansionist moves.

Wargamer Blue14 May 2020 3:51 a.m. PST

China can't manage a flu. Good luck managing a war.

David Manley14 May 2020 4:21 a.m. PST

Looks like few countries can, except New Zealand and South Korea :)

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 6:38 a.m. PST

Wasn't there a book written a few years ago about how the Pentagon stacks these games against the U.S. side so they lose badly and then they can ask for more funding? I recall the Indian SU-27s knocking down a bunch of F-15s in an exercise where the F-15s had their hands tied in the ROE so they could ask for more F-22s. Then there were all the games showing that if Iran attacks us in the Persian Gulf with thousands of small boats in a swarm they would sink every ship, which got funding for more defensive systems.

China is definitely building up their forces in the region and is trying to steal every military secret, especially involving technology that they can. However, they have very little operational experience and no idea how their equipment is going to work in a military confrontation. On top of that the U.S. holds back a lot of their capabilities just in case things get hot.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2020 6:45 a.m. PST

First, the book the author is citing was written by the "Staff Director" of the SASC. For those who don't speak bureaucrat, that means he was a personnel manager for the civil servants. That doesn't mean he knows nothing about military strategy. It just means that his day to day job was ensuring people got paid on time, managing their leave so the right people would be available at the right time, working their performance plans, AND handling the ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS of the committee's legislative responsibilities.

Again, it doesn't mean he has no knowledge or understanding of high level military policy. He would have been exposed to it every day. He would have learned about it though administratively handling legislation. It just means his actual experience is HR, not policy.

Why bring that up? because it directly relates to the knowledge and understanding in this statement:

'Over the past decade, in U.S. war games against China, the United States has a nearly perfect record: We have lost almost every single time.

Speaking as someone who has been and run OPFOR for such exercises, we don't spend a couple hundred million dollars to have hundreds of people burn hours, fuel, and munitions to practice against the "expected" threat. We do all kinds of training, workups and small wargames against different levels of threat. When we spent a huge amount of resources (IME most commanders consider their peoples' time the most valuable resource), we throw a huge amount of "worst case" in the recipe. Even when worst case is .01% probability and worst case of two things happening together is .00001% probability.

The point of the wargames is not to win, but rather to let your people practice against a high end threat in a low risk environment.

That said, several of the points in the article are valid concerns, but aren't put in the appropriate context.

Is there inertia and slowness in the defense acquisition process? Yep. Seen it. Lived it. Caused part of it. Ate it. (That is, I felt the effects of it while on active duty conducting ops.)

I've seen lots of times when I was surprised by what I considered the antiquated nature of capabilities in the field. I've also seen lots of times when an "innovator" with "good ideas" shoved something through to field quickly. IME, lots more catastrophic failures from the latter than the former.

The Great Pork Pie has negative effects. It also has positive effects. Ignoring that meting out the pork is also spreading the wealth, I'm pretty sure most people living with COVID-19 contagion spread measures understand the reduction in supply chain risk over sourcing everything from one place.

The problem is not that the book author doesn't have valid points for discussion. It's that the article's intro couple of sentences set up an emotional frame, rather than a factual one, which does not contribute to discussion of the pertinent concerns.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 9:33 a.m. PST

The problem is not that the book author doesn't have valid points for discussion. It's that the article's intro couple of sentences set up an emotional frame, rather than a factual one, which does not contribute to discussion of the pertinent concerns.

Perhaps the author is well aware that his little factoid is an over-exaggeration but intentionally used it to lend his argument that a paradigm shift is desperately needed with more "the sky is falling!" urgency. Otherwise we would just shrug with "so what?" insouciance and do nothing.

That "hook" got a lot of people's attention, didn't it?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2020 10:12 a.m. PST

That "hook" got a lot of people's attention, didn't it?

Yes. In the same way that the headline saying "Wargamers Sexually Molest Small Children" does.

I haven't researched that, but statistically that is very likely to be factually correct. That is, given the number of people who play wargames (a broad category of activities beyond those that are the focus of TMP, LAF, BGG, and other places we frequent) it is statistically likely that more than one of them are child molesters.

So the context and attitude of people that respond to that headline would not set people up to looking at the material in a worthwhile way.

Skarper14 May 2020 10:19 a.m. PST

China HAS claimed the Philippines. A news reader made this claim a few years ago – and news is just another arm of the CCP.

To counter China needs more 'bandwidth'. More Chinese speaking analysts so they can follow what is going on inside China fully. Better elected officials [this applies to all parties] who have the intelligence and willingness to give the problem the attention it deserves.

This means news and media needs to do a better job of informing the public. Peoples attention spans are a little short and there is so much to focus on.

China needs to be tackled on all levels. Coherent military plans is part of this. Diplomatic and 'infowars' are another. Not to forget cyberwarfare.

There is no quick fix. Big military spending or snazzy soundbites alone won't help.

China is nowhere near as strong militarily as some make out. They are gaining ground but have a very long way to go to pose more than a nuisance threat to the US military. The recent cancellation of the PLAN's carrier #5 and #6 indicates they have lost faith in the arms race.

Economically they are also on the edge of disaster.

Overall it's a very volatile situation that we should all pay more attention to. I live in Vietnam so it's very much front-page news for me.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 11:08 a.m. PST

In general, the Chinese both claim territory that they once held and try to reclaim. As the Nine Lines claims go, they are depending on historical claims going back hundreds of years (somewhat like if the UK claimed those parts of North Africa that that they held at one point in the 1600s). That said, Russian should be very afraid about parts of Siberia, North Korea for parts of it's country, Mongolia, Taiwan, much of the 'Stans, etc. China has also, at least for some time, not been an aggressive state, limiting itself to invading anyone other that over defending itself (as they see it), thus the incursion into Vietnam, border spats with the Soviet Union, intervening in Korea, border war with India, Tibet, etc.

My point is this, that if one occupies territory that China believes it has a historical claim to, be wary. Otherwise, not so much. The Chinese were a major world power for a long time, taking and occupying wide areas. The British helped to spread millions of Chinese around the world and millions have immigrated to different countries. Like the pre WWI German government, the state thinks that the Chinese who have left should still owe alliance to the mother (father) land. That plus the claims to land once controlled by China makes for a dangerous national state of mind and the state whips up nationalism when it wishes or needs to.

Given that China was the strongest economy (size) in the world in 1800, two hundred plus years of being attacked, occupied, humiliated, mismanaged and wracked by civil wars, rebellions, racially discriminated against and invasions, have left it with a complex that may take a long time to temper. And the people of China have the memories and are reminded often of such historical events.

Keep in mind that their military seems to be more of a "control the borders and gain local control" than that of ability to transport support military adventures overseas (like the US).

Augustus14 May 2020 11:13 a.m. PST

First nasty tactic against China would be biological anyway if it came to outright (and probably world ending anyway…).

China has severe drought issues and a near-total dependence on other nations for food supply/agriculture.

They starve really fast in a disruption scenario according to even the most conservative estimates.

However, the Allies are unlikely to go the bio route, but to balance the numbers issue, may have to pull that thread.

Skarper14 May 2020 2:14 p.m. PST

My worry is China [the CCP really] will become desperate for a diversion from domestic troubles. They can't deliver year on year growth in standard of living any more. As people realise they will never be as rich as their parents there will be discontent. There already is a lot of dissent inside China – but nobody can find out about it…

In this scenario taking over small islands in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea or East China Sea is quite possible. They would love to seize Taiwan but I think that would be a tough operation fraught with risk. They don't want to fight – rather they want to follow Sun Tzu and 'win without fighting'. China can't sustain many casualties due to the one child policy. Every dead soldier is 4 families' futures wiped out.

How other countries but chiefly the US responds to all this – or how they might be expected to respond will be pivotal.

The US does need to police China everywhere really – to demonstrate an ability and willingness to confront China in any theatre.

It's a tough and costly role to fill for sure. Some help will be available from the UK, France, Australia, Japan and other local nations – but the US is the mainstay. Others can only provide diplomatic cover and perhaps support bases.

This is going to be a busy year. We live in increasingly interesting times.

Memento Mori15 May 2020 12:51 p.m. PST

China will never get desperate from a domestic issue, They have the propaganda machine to inspire , the internal security system to watch and the force to compel.

The Party will do what they have to to maintain control without an overseas war .Everyday there are riots and demonstrations all across the country that never surface. When over 90% of your people share the same national identity (Han) and are fairly content (although some may say brainwashed) the minorities don't have a chance.

In China the early bird does not gets the worm, he gets chopped. Don't get noticed keep your head down and make your money is the mantra of today's China.

USAFpilot15 May 2020 1:21 p.m. PST

USAF alone has 2,100 pilot shortfall.

I always get a little chuckle when I hear about pilot shortages. The AF has traditionally mismanaged their pilot force, going in cycles of too many pilots to suddenly too few. One of the challenges is a lengthy training pipeline to produce a pilot. Undergraduate Pilot Training alone is 13 months long and that only qualifies to fly trainers. Follow on training in war fighting aircraft is several more months which allows you to show up at your operational squadron as a minimally trained pilot. You are constantly training the rest of your career with various upgrades.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 4:09 p.m. PST

When over 90% of your people share the same national identity (Han) and are fairly content (although some may say brainwashed) the minorities don't have a chance.

Exactly. The Chinese (Han) by nature are conformists who don't question authority as long as the government provides them with physical and economic security. And it's not as if the CCP oppresses them (minority Uighurs in Xinjiang and pro-democracy troublemakers in Hong Kong do not reflect the "will of the majority"). Unlike America, it's not a situation where "51 percent of the people can take away the rights of the other 49."

Memento Mori15 May 2020 6:49 p.m. PST

China can be neatly summed up in one phrase and if you think about it the truer it becomes


Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 6:59 p.m. PST

Interesting perspective. Amidst all the escalating war of words between US and China, here's another truism to dwell on:

"Real ties between nations are among individuals and businesses rather than diplomats and governments."

Zephyr115 May 2020 10:02 p.m. PST

" As the Nine Lines claims go, they are depending on historical claims going back hundreds of years …"

Then the 1421 exploration fleet allows them to claim the whole world as their own… ;-)

Skarper15 May 2020 10:24 p.m. PST

The so called '9 dash line' is based on some very spurious history. The recent tribunal came down solidly against China – but they are trying to divide and conquer.

It's going to be a long battle.

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