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2030 Scenario: US Navy robots, carriers and mines counterattack China

Austin Bay on

For at least two decades, U.S. military strategists and planners have pondered this complex question: how to lower the physical risks to ships and crews a U.S. Navy carrier battle group and other surface forces face as they approach a hostile Chinese coast.

In 1996, as Beijing threatened Taiwan with a rain of missiles, a Navy nuclear carrier battle group sailed toward the island -- with impunity.

However, communist China's military modernization program has developed and deployed weapon systems that increase the peril U.S. and allied fleets confront. Some Chinese air and missile systems may be able to successfully attack U.S. surface vessels 1,200 miles away. The threat to allied submarines has also increased.

In the last week, defense writers have published sensational reports regarding a recent U.S. defense establishment war game (conflict simulation) set in the year 2030.

Some pertinent background: For four years I served as a special consultant in war gaming in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. War games are at best informative explorations of possible future events and potential outcomes based on player decisions made during the game.

The most useful games force difficult decisions that, if recorded and analyzed, may inform future diplomatic initiatives; future economic initiatives; future military plans; future technology research and development programs; and -- a real payoff -- future crunch-time decisions by political leaders and military commanders.


Unfortunately, major media tend to portray these simulations as either frightening "models" predicting eventual American defeat or dismiss them as Pentagon bang-bang fantasies whose goal is a bigger budget for weapons that don't work.

But back to the recent reports. The scenario was set in 2030. Communist China possessed modernized naval, air and missile forces that threatened every U.S. naval surface task force and base in the Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans. According to a report that appeared in The Australian, Guam was "totally at risk."

Time for some old news circa 2017: North Korea already threatens Guam. That's why the Pentagon deployed a THAAD anti-missile battery to the island.

In the game's 2030, China possesses hypersonic strike missiles, aircraft carriers and long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles. Well, for years, China has claimed to have a "carrier killer" ballistic missile, the DF-21D. The Pentagon believes China began deploying it in 2013. It may have a range of 2,000 miles, but no one knows for sure. Can it hit a maneuvering U.S. carrier?


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