The United States would face few but significant hurdles if the military were to confront China following an invasion of Taiwan, military experts have told Fox News Digital.
“Unfortunately, broadly speaking, the Chinese have greatly increased their air, sea, space, information technology and missile capabilities over the past two decades,” said James Anderson, undersecretary of defense for policy under President Trump.
“In some of the scenarios that may occur, we may be at a competitive disadvantage initially because they have a home field advantage in terms of their ability to quickly mobilize local forces, and that is really important for the PRC.”
Four-star Air Force General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, wrote in a memo last week that he believes the US and China “will be fighting in 2025,” adding, “I hope I’m wrong.” He pointed to upcoming elections in the United States and Taiwan, which he said could provide a distraction and allow China to make a move on the island.
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The general said that “a fortified, ready, integrated and agile joint force maneuver team ready to fight and win within the first island chain” must be established to prepare for the impending battle.
And CIA Director William Burns said Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his military to be ready for action by 2027.
Anderson, along with Heino Klinck, a senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, stressed that it is difficult to predict how a conflict might unfold because it “would depend a lot on the scenario.”
“There are areas where they have dominance, and there are also areas where we have dominance, so it’s not exactly an apples and oranges kind of comparison,” said Klinck, who previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. , highlighting the “tyranny of distance” as the biggest concern for the US military.
“China certainly has geographical advantages based only on the fact that it is only 100 miles from Taiwan, so it is something that requires advanced logistical planning,” he added.
China, in a localized conflict, would have shorter supply lines than the US, even with partners and military bases in the region creating a baseline from which to operate. And it could more easily support its naval forces with land-based missile systems.
Anderson also pointed out that the United States would likely run out of its sophisticated conventional missiles “probably in a matter of days.” US officials announced in October 2022 that they could not maintain the same pace of supply for Ukraine’s defense against a Russian invasion due to the risk posed by dwindling stockpiles of high-end munitions.
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“Essentially, we have exhausted our ammunition reserves to supply the Ukrainians,” Klinck said. “It demonstrated the fragility of our defense industrial base. And the fact that we have reportedly withdrawn munitions from Israel and are planning to withdraw some types of equipment from South Korea should demonstrate and convey the seriousness of this problem.”
The “tyranny of distance” would cause the biggest problem, and Anderson pointed out that it could take at least two weeks for the US to fully supply both manpower and weapons to the region to maintain any kind of sustained and escalated action against China.
“There are ways to overcome it,” Anderson pointed out. “For example, we can and should do a much better job of stockpiling enough munitions in the region and protecting them, but, right now, that’s our biggest drawback.”
Anderson pointed out that, despite these shortcomings, the United States has a significant and overwhelming advantage over China: the last conflict in which Beijing has deployed its forces was in the 1979 border war with Vietnam, and since then it has not extensive military or actual combat experience. compared to its American counterparts.
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“The thing is, they have no experience conducting a large amphibious assault on the scale that would be required to capture the island of Taiwan,” Anderson added. “Yes, they attacked various outlying islands of Taiwan during multiple crises in the 1950s, but these were very small-scale operations.”
He added that large-scale amphibious operations are “the most difficult combat operations to execute”.
“There are no good parallels and… from our point of view, the fact that the Chinese don’t have a good parallel is good news because this is a competitive disadvantage for them.”
Klinck stressed that the lack of parallels isn’t necessarily a good thing, simply because the US can’t predict how China will tackle the problem.
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“The fact that they have geography on their side, the fact that China’s economy and business are also integrated into China’s war plans. So, for example, the Chinese have, in fact, practiced roll-on business operations , roll-off ships with commercial airliners,” Klinck noted.
“There are a variety of lifting assets that the Chinese could bring into play that Western militaries may not necessarily depend on.”
Caitlin McFall of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.