China is battling the United States in three non-military areas in hopes of driving U.S. troops out of Asia and tightening its grip on the seas near its coasts, says a Pentagon study.
The "Three Warfares" described in the report are on psychological, media, and legal fronts, the Washington Free Beacon
reports. The report was developed for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, which examines issues related to future warfare scenarios.
"The Three Warfares is a dynamic three-dimensional war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means," Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper, who directed the study, told the Free Beacon. "It is China’s weapon of choice in the South China Sea."
Halper was among eight China experts who contributed to the 566-page, unclassified report. Others included Michael Pillsbury, who served at the Pentagon during the Reagan administration, the Free Beacon reports.
Though the Pentagon's report was completed in May 2013, news of it comes on the heels of moves announced last month by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to slash the size of the U.S. military to its smallest levels since before World War II and to scrap a class of Air Force attack jets.
Hagel's efforts would cut military spending to meet government austerity objectives resulting from President Barack Obama's promise to end U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reductions would leave
the military capable of defeating any enemy but too small for long foreign occupations, news reports said, and would involve greater risk if U.S. forces were asked to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said China's Three Warfares are broadly guided by the idea that modern technology has rendered nuclear weapons unusable — and conventional conflict too problematic — to achieve political objectives.
Beijing wants to acquire resources, influence, and territory and to project national will, the Free Beacon reports.
"China’s Three Warfares [are] designed to counter U.S. power projection," the report says. "The United States is one of four key audiences targeted by the campaign, as part of China’s broader military strategy of 'anti-access/area denial' in the South China Sea."
The assessment warns that the U.S. government and its military lack effective tools for countering these warfare methods — and that military academies lack instruction on Chinese use of such unconventional warfare techniques.
It called for a White House office to develop efforts to better understand the Chinese threat and coordinate countermeasures to its techniques, the Free Beacon reports.
Further, the Three Warfares seek to reduce the image of U.S. power and readiness in Asia among such critical allies as Japan and South Korea, and to assure China's ability to navigate its nearby seas freely by attempting to set terms for allowing U.S. access to the region, the Free Beacon reports.
More specifically, the use of psychological, media, and legal attacks by China seeks to raise "doubts about the legitimacy of the U.S. presence," the report says.
The assessment cites several disputes in which China employed the Three Warfares strategy, the Free Beacon reports. They include encounters between U.S. and Chinese warships; the crisis over the 2001 mid-air collision between a U.S. EP-3E surveillance plane and a Chinese jet; and China’s increasing combativeness in several maritime disputes in the South China and East China seas.
"If the Three Warfares is not a 'game changer,' it certainly has the capacity to modify the game in substantial ways," the report says.
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