The United States would be vulnerable to a massive war with China, years of Pentagon war games suggest, and now a U.S. Air Force general is warning the simulations are showing the U.S. "losing faster."
"More than a decade ago, our war games indicated that the Chinese were doing a good job of investing in military capabilities that would make our preferred model of expeditionary warfare, where we push forces forward and operate out of relatively safe bases and sanctuaries, increasingly difficult," Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview.
Advantages in technology, space satellites, military power, missile stockpiles, and the largest Navy in the world have continually shown China likely defeating the U.S. in a massive war.
"At that point the trend in our war games was not just that we were losing, but we were losing faster," Hinote told Yahoo. "After the 2018 war game, I distinctly remember one of our gurus of war gaming standing in front of the Air Force secretary and chief of staff, and telling them that we should never play this war game scenario [of a Chinese attack on Taiwan] again, because we know what is going to happen.
"The definitive answer if the U.S. military doesn't change course is that we're going to lose fast. In that case, an American president would likely be presented with almost a fait accompli."
Add in the global coronavirus pandemic and the prospects of potential biological attack by China, and the Pentagon's concerns multiply.
Hong Kong and Taiwan are potential flash points for escalations of tensions between the U.S. and China, with the latter area the most concerning, according to the report.
"By the way, three of China's standing war plans are built around a Taiwan scenario," Hinote told Yahoo. "They're planning for this. Taiwan is what they think about all the time."
Fighting a massive war campaign in China's seas is a large component to the simulation results, per the report.
"Whenever we war-gamed a Taiwan scenario over the years, our Blue Team routinely got its a-- handed to it, because in that scenario time is a precious commodity and it plays to China's strength in terms of proximity and capabilities," RAND Corporation senior analyst David Ochmanek told Yahoo.
He added: "That kind of lopsided defeat is a visceral experience for U.S. officers on the Blue Team, and as such the war games have been a great consciousness-raising device. But the U.S. military is still not keeping pace with Chinese advances. For that reason, I don't think we're much better off than a decade ago when we started taking this challenge more seriously."
The loss of a military edge with China is partially due to the Pentagon's "attention deficit disorder" as the U.S. burns military resources on terrorism in the Middle East and the longest running war in American history in Afghanistan, according to Ochmanek.
"My response is that China's growing military confidence is manifesting itself in an increasingly belligerent approach to its neighbors, the growing frequency of the [People's Liberation Army of China] violation of the airspace of Taiwan and Japan, and the bullying of other neighbors in the South China Sea," Ochmanek told Yahoo. "Under Xi Jinping there has been a dramatic increase in such provocations compared to a decade ago, and I think it's grounded in his belief that militarily, China is strong enough now to credibly challenge us."
The Trump administration acknowledged the threat and sought to address it, while the Biden administration has talked of more gentle relations with China.
"When we were developing the National Defense Strategy in 2017, the trend lines looked very bad vis-à-vis China, and got a lot worse as you projected into the future," former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for strategy and force development Elbridge Colby told Yahoo. "Yet despite that fact there were, and I think still are, a lot of people who resisted the idea that war with China is even possible, let alone losable. That's why both strategic level and more operational war games were so important. They help show how these things are possible — but also how we can redress the problem."
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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