Saturday, July 2, 2022

Strategy Details War Plan to stop Russia and China

Image: AP

NATO was facing rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.

The Western military alliance was wrapping up a summit in Madrid, where it issued a stark warning that the world has been plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change.

NATO leaders also formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after overcoming opposition from Turkey. If the Nordic nations' accession is approved by the 30 member nations, it will give NATO a new 800-mile (1,300 kilometer) border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he would respond in kind if the Nordic nations allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. He said Russia will have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created.” China accused the alliance of “maliciously attacking and smearing” the country. Its mission to the European Union said NATO “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world.” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the summit that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had brought “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” The invasion shattered Europe's peace, and in response NATO has poured troops and weapons into eastern Europe on a scale unseen in decades. Member nations have given Ukraine billions in military and civilian aid to strengthen its resistance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed the summit by video link, asked for more. He urged NATO to send modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the leaders they either had to provide Kyiv with the help it needed or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.” “The question is, who's next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer is: all of them,” he said.

At the summit, NATO leaders agreed to dramatically scale up military force along the alliance's eastern flank, where countries from Romania to the Baltic states worry about Russia's future plans.

It announced plans to increase almost eightfold the size of the alliance's rapid reaction force, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, by next year. The troops will be based in their home nations but dedicated to specific countries in the east, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of NATO's firepower, announced a hefty boost in America's military presence in Europe, including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons to the U.K.

The expansion will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the foreseeable future, up from 80,000 before the war in Ukraine began.

Biden said Putin had believed NATO members would splinter after he invaded Ukraine, but he got the opposite response.

“Putin was looking for the Finland-ization of Europe,” Biden said. “You're gonna get the NATO-ization of Europe. And that's exactly what he didn't want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe.” Still, strains among NATO allies have also emerged as the cost of energy and other essential goods has skyrocketed, partly because of the war and tough Western sanctions on Russia. There also are tensions over how the war will end and what, if any, concessions Ukraine should make.

Money remains a sensitive issue — just nine of NATO's 30 members currently meet the organization's target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

At what Stoltenberg called a “transformative” summit, the leaders published NATO's new Strategic Concept, its once-a-decade set of priorities and goals.

The last such document, in 2010, called Russia a “strategic partner.” Now, NATO is accusing Russia of using “coercion, subversion, aggression and annexation” to extend its reach.

The 2010 document made no mention of China, but the new one addressed Bejing's growing economic and military reach.

“China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

NATO said that China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warned of its close ties with Moscow.

The alliance said, however, that it remained “open to constructive engagement” with Beijing.

China shot back that NATO was a source of instability and vowed to defend its interests.

“Since NATO positions China as a systemic challenge,' we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China's interests, we will make firm and strong responses,” its statement said.

NATO also stressed the need to address political instability in Africa's Sahel region and the Middle East — aggravated by “climate change, fragile institutions, health emergencies and food insecurity” — that is driving large numbers of migrants toward Europe. Host Spain and other European countries pushed for this new focus.

NATO is putting Russia and any other “nuclear-armed peer-competitors” on notice that the trans-Atlantic alliance can and will retaliate against any nuclear attack.

The latest edition of the security bloc’s guiding strategic concept evinces a more muscular posture regarding NATO’s nuclear forces than the 2010 document, which characterized Russia as a “partner” just four years before the Kremlin seized Crimea from Ukraine. And the latest document implies that as North Atlantic allies send a stronger signal about threats from Russia’s nuclear threats, they also won’t fail to keep an eye on China’s nuclear arsenal.

“We have a wartime strategic concept, actually, not a peacetime one, so [we] want to use stronger language,” a senior European official told the Washington Examiner.

The balance of nuclear military power emerged as a burning issue in the last several months, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has invoked Moscow’s arsenal to deter at least some Western support or intervention for Ukraine. His nuclear saber-rattling has spurred some European officials to wonder if Putin thinks he could win a limited nuclear war; the allies, for their part, asserted such a conflict would be a losing proposition for their enemies.

“The circumstances in which NATO might have to use nuclear weapons are extremely remote,” the Strategic Concept reads. “Any employment of nuclear weapons against NATO would fundamentally alter the nature of a conflict. The Alliance has the capabilities and resolve to impose costs on an adversary that would be unacceptable and far outweigh the benefits that any adversary could hope to achieve.”

That’s a more forceful warning than the analogous section of the 2010 document, in which the alliance emphasized that "circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote.” The revision also placed more emphasis on France and the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons in an apparent effort to signal that the threat of nuclear retaliation for a Russian nuclear attack wouldn’t depend solely on an American president.

"The independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France have a deterrent role of their own and contribute significantly to the overall security of the Alliance,” the 2022 document now reads. “These Allies’ separate centers of decision-making contribute to deterrence by complicating the calculations of potential adversaries.”

The new document also shows more fundamental shifts in the strategic outlook of the allies. In 2010, NATO leaders could agree that “the alliance does not consider any country to be its adversary” and identified “the proliferation of ballistic missiles” as the most salient “real and growing threat to the Euro-Atlantic area” — an apparent reference to Iran’s non-nuclear military capabilities.

Where the arms control section of the 2010 concept could thus declare that "NATO seeks its security at the lowest possible level of [nuclear] forces,” now the allies see a need to deter multiple nuclear powers.

“We will individually and collectively deliver the full range of forces, capabilities, plans, resources, assets and infrastructure needed for deterrence and defense, including for high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitors,” the new document reads.

The allies made their misgivings about Beijing’s nuclear weapons explicit elsewhere in this year's concept document. “The PRC is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and is developing increasingly sophisticated delivery systems, without increasing transparency or engaging in good faith in arms control or risk reduction,” NATO said.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have released a new, overarching tri-service strategy document for how they plan to project maritime power together going forward. The document focuses heavily on how the three services expect to fight on the high seas and adjacent areas on land. However, there is also a very important underlying discussion about adopting a more assertive approach to responding to day-to-day challenges, especially from China, and to a lesser extent, Russia, among other potential adversaries, that are short of a shooting war.

The three services unveiled their new "integrated" strategy, titled "Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power," on Dec. 17, 2020. The document includes discussions about of a number of concepts of operation that the trio has been openly discussing, such as a greater focus on distributed operations leveraging a dramatically reorganized Marine Corps riding on smaller amphibious warfare ships, the increased use of unmanned aircraft and naval platforms, and distributed sensor and communications networks. There is also a "renewed emphasis on fighting for and gaining sea control" in light of growing concerns about a potential higher-end future naval fight with a major adversary, such as China or Russia.

In consultation with the intelligence community, U.S. military planners identify events that should be used for planning the size and mix of U.S. forces. There is a tension, however, between planning for the most likely situations as opposed to worst-case events. For example, large-scale, high-intensity conflicts like China invading Taiwan or Russia invading Latvia would be challenging for U.S. and allied militaries but are less likely compared to scenarios such as protracted gray-zone confrontations between China or Russia and their neighbors. U.S. planners usually choose high-intensity scenarios, although protracted conflicts may be harder for the U.S. military to address.

After the scenario subjects are decided, planners build a detailed description of the events leading up to the conflict, the expected actions of adversary, allied, and noncombatant governments and militaries, and the order of battle expected to be employed by each participating nation. Scenarios usually do not detail U.S. government or military actions.

Explain the conceptual framework in designing scenarios for non-conventional conflict.

Non-conventional conflicts are those that do not involve sustained combat between regular armed forces. Examples include insurgencies by militia forces being supported by a state aggressor, such as in Ukraine; harassment of opposing government and commercial activities in international airspace or waters, as in the East and South China Seas; or a de facto blockade of a disputed territory using militia, law enforcement, and civilian forces like that around the Senkaku Islands.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) plans for these events, but they are low priority. However, because they are less intense than traditional scenarios like invasions, non-conventional confrontations can be sustained longer by the aggressor and employ a wide range of proxy, civilian, and paramilitary forces that create challenges for the U.S. military. The predominance of large, highly capable units in U.S. forces makes protracted campaigns potentially unaffordable and reduces U.S. options at lower levels of escalation. As a result, the U.S. government can be portrayed as the aggressor in a non-conventional conflict because the forces it employs are disproportionate for the situation.Identify fundamental assumptions about how the U.S. might engage in conventional and non-conventional contest with China or Russia and explain how these assumptions should be tested in scenario risk analysis.

The DoD has evolved a strong set of assumptions regarding conventional conflicts. The U.S. military generally assumes it will not be the aggressor and will have some, potentially short, warning that will allow the mobilization of forces to the conflict area. Forces already deployed respond to aggression and attempt to delay or deny the enemy’s success while preparing for the arrival of additional forces from adjacent theaters or the continental United States.

The U.S. military has a less coherent view regarding non-conventional conflict. Because these scenarios occur below the level of armed combat, U.S. military forces are often not an appropriate response, but the U.S. government does not continuously deploy law enforcement forces like the Coast Guard or paramilitary units like contractors – although Coast Guard deployments to the Western Pacific are rising. The use of conventional forces is episodic and limited to shows of force, exercises, or freedom of navigation operations rather than directly countering the non-conventional aggression.

What are key challenges and opportunities for U.S. military planners in preparing for potential military confrontation involving China or Russia?

China and Russia are difficult to plan against because they pose multidimensional challenges in areas close to their own territory. Both countries established extensive sensor networks using radar, electronic intelligence, and space imagery around their territory that can be used for surveillance and targeting of a large inventory and variety of precision ballistic and cruise missiles. Their sensor and weapon networks give China and Russia the ability to conduct rapid, large-scale attacks in regions they have interests such as the East and South China Seas for China and Eastern Europe for Russia.

In a conventional conflict, Chinese or Russian missiles give their militaries the ability to delay U.S. reinforcements while quickly attacking U.S. allies to coerce them into submission. In a non-conventional conflict, China and Russia can threaten U.S. military forces and force U.S. commanders to either send in small units at high risk or employ larger units that can defend themselves but are disproportionate for the non-conventional confrontation. As evidenced by the success of Chinese or Russian gray-zone operations over the last decade, the U.S. government has not determined a satisfactory non-conventional response.

How should the new U.S. administration align defense spending allocation with emerging non-conventional threats?

The U.S. government will need a larger number of units that are smaller and less expensive to buy and maintain compared to today’s U.S. military. Less heavily-armed units such as Littoral Combat Ships, Coast Guard cutters, or company-size National Guard formations would be more proportional in non-conventional confrontations against Russian-supported proxy forces or People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia ships. These units would also be affordable enough to buy and operate in large enough numbers so they can sustain a robust presence in contested areas for a protracted periods.

Top US military commanders explained the new tactics to Congress in March in a series of budget hearings. The commandant of the US Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 5 that small units of Marines armed with precision missiles could assist the US Navy to gain control of the seas, particularly in the Western Pacific.

"The Tomahawk missile is one of the tools that is going to allow us to do that," he said.

The Tomahawk — which first gained fame when launched in massed strikes during the 1991 Gulf War — has been carried on US warships and used to attack land targets in recent decades. The Marines would test fire the cruise missile through 2022 with the aim of making it operational the following year, top Pentagon commanders testified.

At first, a relatively small number of land-based cruise missiles will not change the balance of power. But such a shift would send a strong political signal that Washington is preparing to compete with China's massive arsenal, according to senior US and other Western strategists.

Guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George launches a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, March 23, 2003. US Navy/Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Kenneth Moll

Longer term, bigger numbers of these weapons combined with similar Japanese and Taiwanese missiles would pose a serious threat to Chinese forces, they say. The biggest immediate threat to the PLA comes from new, long-range anti-ship missiles now entering service with US Navy and Air Force strike aircraft.

"The Americans are coming back strongly," said Ross Babbage, a former senior Australian government defense official and now a non-resident fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a security research group. "By 2024 or 2025 there is a serious risk for the PLA that their military developments will be obsolete."

A Chinese military spokesman, Senior Col. Wu Qian, warned last October that Beijing would "not stand by" if Washington deployed land-based, long-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. China's foreign ministry accused the United States of sticking "to its Cold War mentality" and "constantly increasing military deployment" in the region.

"Recently, the United States has gotten worse, stepping up its pursuit of a so-called 'Indo-Pacific strategy' that seeks to deploy new weapons, including ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, in the Asia-Pacific region," the ministry said in a statement to Reuters. "China firmly opposes that."
US military unshackled
Royal Australian Navy guided-missile frigate HMAS Parramatta, left, with US Navy amphibious assault ship USS America, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry in the South China Sea, April 18, 2020. US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh via REUTERS

While the coronavirus pandemic rages, Beijing has increased its military pressure on Taiwan and exercises in the South China Sea.

In a show of strength, on April 11 the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning led a flotilla of five other warships into the Western Pacific through the Miyako Strait to the northeast of Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Defense Ministry. On April 12, the Chinese warships exercised in waters east and south of Taiwan, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the US Navy was forced to tie up the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt at Guam while it battles to contain a coronavirus outbreak among the crew of the giant warship. However, the US Navy managed to maintain a powerful presence off the Chinese coast.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Taiwan Strait twice in April. And the amphibious assault ship USS America last month exercised in the East China Sea and South China Sea, the US Indo-Pacific Command said.

In a series last year, Reuters reported that while the US was distracted by almost two decades of war in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the PLA had built a missile force designed to attack the aircraft carriers, other surface warships and network of bases that form the backbone of American power in Asia. Over that period, Chinese shipyards built the world's biggest navy, which is now capable of dominating the country's coastal waters and keeping US forces at bay.

The series also revealed that in most categories, China's missiles now rival or outperform counterparts in the armories of the US alliance.
A float carrying a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square during the parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

China derived an advantage because it was not party to a Cold War-era treaty — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) — that banned the United States and Russia from possessing ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers. Unrestrained by the INF pact, China has deployed about 2,000 of these weapons, according to US and other Western estimates.

While building up its missile forces on land, the PLA also fitted powerful, long-range anti-ship missiles to its warships and strike aircraft.

This accumulated firepower has shifted the regional balance of power in China's favor. The United States, long the dominant military power in Asia, can no longer be confident of victory in a military clash in waters off the Chinese coast, according to senior retired US military officers.

But the decision by President Donald Trump last year to exit the INF treaty has given American military planners new leeway. Almost immediately after withdrawing from the pact on August 2, the administration signaled it would respond to China's missile force. The next day, US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper said he would like to see ground-based missiles deployed in Asia within months, but he acknowledged it would take longer.

Later that month, the Pentagon tested a ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile. In December, it tested a ground-launched ballistic missile. The INF treaty banned such ground-launched weapons, and thus both tests would have been forbidden.

The Defense Department tests a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California, August 18, 2019. DoD photo by Scott Howe

A senior Marines commander, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 11 that the Pentagon leadership had instructed the Marines to field a ground-launched cruise missile "very quickly."

The budget documents show that the Marines have requested $125 million to buy 48 Tomahawk missiles from next year. The Tomahawk has a range of 1,600km, according to its manufacturer, Raytheon Company.

Smith said the cruise missile may not ultimately prove to be the most suitable weapon for the Marines. "It may be a little too heavy for us," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee, but experience gained from the tests could be transferred to the army.

Smith also said the Marines had successfully tested a new shorter-range anti-ship weapon, the Naval Strike Missile, from a ground launcher and would conduct another test in June. He said if that test was successful, the Marines intended to order 36 of these missiles in 2022.

Naval Strike Missile launch from USS Coronado (LCS-4) in September 2014. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary D. Bell

The US Army is also testing a new long-range, land-based missile that can target warships. This missile would have been prohibited under the INF treaty.

The Marine Corps said in a statement it was evaluating the Naval Strike Missile to target ships and the Tomahawk for attacking targets on land. Eventually, the Marines aimed to field a system "that could engage long-range moving targets either on land or sea," the statement said.

The Defense Department also has research underway on new, long-range strike weapons, with a budget request of $3.2 billion for hypersonic technology, mostly for missiles.

China's foreign ministry drew a distinction between the PLA's arsenal of missiles and the planned US deployment.

It said China's missiles were "located in its territory, especially short and medium-range missiles, which cannot reach the mainland of the United States. This is fundamentally different from the US, which is vigorously pushing forward deployment."
Bottling up China's navy
Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Military strategists James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara suggested almost a decade ago that the first island chain was a natural barrier that could be exploited by the American military to counter the Chinese naval build-up. Ground-based anti-ship missiles could command key passages through the island chain into the Western Pacific as part of a strategy to keep the rapidly expanding Chinese navy bottled up, they suggested.

In embracing this strategy, Washington is attempting to turn Chinese tactics back on the PLA. Senior US commanders have warned that China's land-based cruise and ballistic missiles would make it difficult for US and allied navies to operate near China's coastal waters.

But deploying ground-based US and allied missiles in the island chain would pose a similar threat to Chinese warships — to vessels operating in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea, or ships attempting to break out into the Western Pacific. Japan and Taiwan have already deployed ground-based anti-ship missiles for this purpose.

"We need to be able to plug up the straits," said Holmes, a professor at the US Naval War College. "We can, in effect, ask them if they want Taiwan or the Senkakus badly enough to see their economy and armed forces cut off from the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. In all likelihood the answer will be no."

Holmes was referring to the uninhabited group of isles in the East China Sea — known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China — that are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.
The approximate boundaries of the first and second island chains in the western Pacific. US Defense Department

The United States faces challenges in plugging the first island chain. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to distance himself from the United States and forge closer ties with China is a potential obstacle to American plans. US forces could face barriers to operating from strategically important islands in the Philippines archipelago after Duterte in February scrapped a key security agreement with Washington.

And if US forces do deploy in the first island chain with anti-ship missiles, some US strategists believe this won't be decisive, as the Marines would be vulnerable to strikes from the Chinese military.

The United States has other counterweights. The firepower of long-range US Air Force bombers could pose a bigger threat to Chinese forces than the Marines, the strategists said. Particularly effective, they said, could be the stealthy B-21 bomber, which is due to enter service in the middle of this decade, armed with long-range missiles.

The Pentagon is already moving to boost the firepower of its existing strike aircraft in Asia. US Navy Super Hornet jets and Air Force B-1 bombers are now being armed with early deliveries of Lockheed Martin's new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, according to the budget request documents.

The new missile is being deployed in response to an "urgent operational need" for the US Pacific Command, the documents explain.

The new missile carries a 450 kilogram warhead and is capable of "semi-autonomous" targeting, giving it some ability to steer itself, according to the budget request. Details of the stealthy cruise missile's range are classified. But US and other Western military officials estimate it can strike targets at distances greater than 800 kilometers.

The budget documents show the Pentagon is seeking $224 million to order another 53 of these missiles in 2021. The US Navy and Air Force expect to have more than 400 of them in service by 2025, according to orders projected in the documents.
An Air Force B1-B Lancer bomber launches a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile during flight testing in August 2013. U.S. Navy

This new anti-ship missile is derived from an existing Lockheed long-range, land attack weapon, the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The Pentagon is asking for $577 million next year to order another 400 of these land-attack missiles.

"The US and allied focus on long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles was the quickest way to rebuild long-range conventional firepower in the Western Pacific region," said Robert Haddick, a former US Marine Corps officer and now a visiting senior fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies based in Arlington, Virginia.

For the US Navy in Asia, Super Hornet jets operating from aircraft carriers and armed with the new anti-ship missile would deliver a major boost in firepower while allowing the expensive warships to operate further away from potential threats, US and other Western military officials say.

Current and retired US Navy officers have been urging the Pentagon to equip American warships with longer-range anti-ship missiles that would allow them to compete with the latest, heavily armed Chinese cruisers, destroyers and frigates. Lockheed has said it successfully test-fired one of the new Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles from the type of launcher used on US and allied warships.

Haddick, one of the first to draw attention to China's firepower advantage in his 2014 book, "Fire on the Water," said the threat from Chinese missiles had galvanized the Pentagon with new strategic thinking and budgets now directed at preparing for high-technology conflict with powerful nations like China.

Haddick said the new missiles were critical to the defensive plans of America and its allies in the Western Pacific. The gap won't close immediately, but firepower would gradually improve, Haddick said.

"This is especially true during the next half-decade and more, as successor hypersonic and other classified munition designs complete their long periods of development, testing, production, and deployment," he said.

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