From the Right



Time for the Taiwan Porcupine to Bristle

Austin Bay on

On March 1, the U.S. tentatively approved the sale of $600 million in hi-tech weapons to Taiwan for its U.S.-made F-16 aircraft.

The weapons sale would impress anyone familiar with 21st-century air-to-air combat. Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) missiles to destroy communist Chinese land-based radars guiding attacking Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jets.

Attacking is that last sentence's critical word. On March 1, 19 PLAAF aircraft violated Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ). They were bluffing attacks.

Land radars would play key roles in a communist Chinese assault on the island. Taiwan's American-supplied HARM missiles would have to hit targets on mainland China.

The arc is clear. Beijing's military aircraft regularly and provocatively crosses the Taiwan Strait median line (the middle of the 110-mile wide strait). Communist China has become more belligerent and in the not-so-distant future will attack Taiwan and provoke a major war in the western Pacific.

Aircraft and missiles alone won't defeat a CCP invasion. Stopping Beijing will require a bitter ground battle against invading ground forces -- amphibious and airborne.


In January the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a study titled "The First Battle of the Next War: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan."

Well-conducted war games are serious exercises in possible futures, with the goal of gleaning insights that help the gamers positively shape the future. I know something about high-level games. From 1989-1993 I was a special adviser in strategic wargaming in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The CSIS game is seriously flawed. My criticism is technical. The game is built around "3.5 day" turns -- each turn represents 84 hours. Study classic amphibious operations like Gallipoli and D-Day and you'll know the first three to four hours of the invasion are critical.

However, the game's output has several points Taiwan, the U.S. and all U.S. allies must consider.


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David M. Hitch Randy Enos Gary McCoy Tim Campbell Steve Kelley Andy Marlette