A little more than two weeks ago, I wrote a post about China’s stepped-up preparations for war with Taiwan. This was immediately after the puppet legislature, the National People’s Congress, had passed an “Anti-Secession Law” that was aimed directly at Taiwan’s aspirations to remain independent of the mainland:
â€œIf possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect Chinaâ€™s sovereignty and territorial integrity,â€ Wang Zhaoguo, deputy chairman of the congressâ€™ Standing Committee, told the nearly 3,000 members gathered in the Great Hall of the People.
Now we hear that Chinese tactics may include a so-called “Out-of-the-Blue” (OOTB) attack on the tiny island where Chinese troops already on “maneuvers” would suddenly turn and pounce on their unsuspecting neighbor.
The exact details are kept secret, but the plan involves using over 600 ballistic missiles, and several hundred warplanes, which China has stationed within range of Taiwan. Within an hour, the missiles could hit Taiwanese anti-aircraft missile launchers, radars, airbases, ships in harbor and army barracks and combat vehicles. Launch the attack in the pre-dawn hours, and you catch most of the troops in their barracks, and the ships, warplanes and tanks lined up and vulnerable. Amphibious troops would already be on their ships, for an amphibious exercises, escorted by numerous warships. As the amphibious fleet headed for Taiwan, hundreds of Chinese warplanes would return to hit whatever targets had been missed.
The tactic was part of the Soviet Union’s military planning for years; something NATO didn’t find out until the defection of Yuri Nosenko, a high ranking KGB Officer:
They prepared for it by holding large scale training exercises twice a year, near the border with West Germany. The Russian troops were all ready to practice, or go to war. An OOTB attack could be ordered by having the troops to cross the border and attack NATO forces, who would have insufficient warning to deal with the sudden offensive. NATO finally caught on to this plan, and put the troops on alert during the Russian field exercises. The OOTB was most noticeably used, and successfully at that, when the Russian trained Egyptian army surprised the Israelis and recaptured the Suez canal in 1973.
While Taiwan is doing its best to prepare for this kind of attack - dispersing units and parts of their fleet to keep them from being destroyed in the missile barrage - the real headache for the tiny island’s military planners is how to coordinate a defense with the United States.
Current American doctrine does not specifically call for US military assistance to Taiwan if she’s attacked by China. However, it’s believed that every President since Richard Nixon announced the “One China” policy (which recognizes Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a runaway province) has privately assured Taiwanese leaders of American support if China attempts reunification by force.
To that end, we could have at least two and perhaps three Carrier Battle Groups near the straits of Taiwan in a matter of 10 days to 2 weeks. The thought being that any crisis involving the two nations would occur over an extended period of time. The three carrier groups would be able to deploy about 300 of the best high performance, all weather fighters and fighter bombers in the world; the F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornets. With several Aegis-class Missile Cruisers capable of not only protecting the carriers but also launching several dozen cruise missiles of their own, it was thought that this force would be able to overwhelm any Chinese attempt at conquering the island nation.
That thinking may be out the window now as China’s military could be steeling itself for battle. There’s no doubt that China’s ability to project it’s military power has improved in the last decade. The big question is would China risk it? Would it risk at the very least, certain sanctions from the west? And even if they caught the US flatfooted, would that stop us from coming to Taiwan’s assistance?
No doubt China has thought of the consequences of any invasion of Taiwan. And that’s what makes this current posturing so worrisome. They may be prepared to be isolated diplomatically for a short time until the world and the Europeans especially become inured to the idea of forced reunification.
Do they want a war with the United States? If they believe they can get away without becoming involved in a large scale conflict with the United States, they may go for it. From their point of view, if they can conquer Taiwan before we’re fully engaged they know we’ll have a decision to make: do we start a conflict that could drag the world into a war over the independence of tiny Taiwan? Do we attack China which could invite some kind of nuclear exchange?
The Chinese are an enormously patient people. You can pretty much count on them waiting until all their “stones” are set. Then and only then will they play Go…and the world will hold its breath waiting for the outcome.