Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Reasserting Control

Hot off the presses, just for you, a paper I just finished for Barry Posen. It's called "Reasserting Control: Could China Conquer Taiwan?"

I decided to write it after reading a handful of academic campaign analyses on just the same thing that resoundingly concluded "no," but used a series of hogwash arguments that either lacked detail or chose assumptions and scenarios that arbitrarily favored the Taiwanese. My analysis decides that if China is able to pull off a coordinated missile, bomber, and fighter/ground-attack (FGA) attack on Taiwanese airbases and C4I centers, it can gain an advantage in the air war, and possibly establish air dominance. After that, it's a matter of using its submarines to pin Taiwanese ships in port to open up the way for an amphibious assault. Though amphibious assault landing ships are limited, China could combine its elite marines with an all-out airborne assault on a single point of attack near a port city in the north to establish a beachhead, and then reinforce the beachhead with a "Million-man swim:" an operation that would involve shipping as many as hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops on commercial fishing vessels and making them swim to shore in what amounts to a very wet airborne-style operation, which is only feasible under the protection of a secure beachhead, air superiority, and sea superiority.

After taking and reinforcing the beachhead, the Chinese would have a short march to Taipei, and with the assistance of tactical interdiction on the part of the Chinese PLA Air Force, Chinese troops could break through and race to the city, where they would fight Taiwanese troops in brutal urban warfare. The award-winning training of China's more elite small units, as well as renowned toughness and grit, would give China the advantage it needed in taking the city. With Taipei in hand, China could stop and defend its spoils, having dislodged the Republic of China government.

The full paper explains in detail each step of the hypothetical operation, and uses the conclusions of the analysis to guide future US, Taiwanese, or Chinese military policy. I encourage at least a skim-through.