Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Thought On the Military Part

I Read the whole thing. Overall it is very good, but sounds very "calculating" lol(well, maybe that is what a grand strategy is suppose to be.)

The part which I think I have some extra thoughts on are in the naval strategy. The author's preference to "big ships" actually coincide with my thought somewhat. A lot of people say big ships are useless for Taiwan, especially some politicians even use big ships are expensive and useless etc to block budget. However, I always thought bigger ships (frigates and above class such as the US Aleigh Burke class destroyers) have a place in Taiwan's naval strategy due to the following reasons:
  • As mention by the author, the navy's battle field most likely will not be in Taiwan strait directly. A fleet is "offensive" in nature. For Taiwan, during a war, a fleet either attack the enemy fleets, its ports or remain as "a fleet in being." Taiwan strait is a no-man's land for a fleet, with modern anti-ship missiles from aircraft and land. It means, the fleet will most likely be engaging enemy fleets or retreating to east, north or south of Taiwan to remain as a "fleet in being," to remain as a threat to the enemy's amphibious assault, as the author mentioned, or anti-blockading mission perhaps.
  • Bigger ships are actually easier to upgrade due to the bigger available room in the hull and deck area (Just look at what Taiwan navy did to the recently retired WWII museum piece cruisers). Also it has much better radar and survivability than the small ships. It is also easier to install large weapons (such as Anti-ships and anti-air missiles) on them. Smaller ships also require in greater in sum is bigger ships actually more expensive?
  • Bigger ships actually have higher top speed. It means they are more strategically mobile, because they can move faster and stay at sea longer without refuel and resupply. Of course smaller ships are more maneuverable, but it is not like they can dodge shells or missiles (like aircraft). Bigger ships at least have a chance to shoot down incoming missiles and air crafts etc.
So I think Taiwan cannot just discard the concept of a main fleet consists of larger ships right out of the window, even if Taiwan has a lot more submarines, because subs have disadvantages that needs to be considered as well. For example, subs (not nuclear subs) move much slower even in top speed. It probably has to move even slower during operation to remain stealthy. It means that they can only attack by ambush, and use hit and run tactics. Without other ships' support, it is hard to tell how effective they can be. Of course right now China's anti-sub capability might be lacking, but I think all different factors need to be considered before dismissing them. During WWII, without other fleets' support, German's sub fleets became ineffective and got destroyed in the end. At the same time, with its main fleets in existence, the US subs was able to achieve some surprise attack on very important Japanese targets.

However, one might not have to dismiss the small ships so quickly neither. I think it all depends on how they can be used. For example, it is true, as the author said, the function of small missile attack ships' and land based anti-ship missiles is exactly the same: make enemy's direct cross-straight amphibious assault impossible, in which case, they have to use the longer route and expose themselves to the attack from the fleets outside of Taiwan straight. So why not just use mobile land based anti-ship missiles instead. That is very true, but who says it's more advantageous to have mobile land based anti-ship missiles? It might be that it's actually better to have small missile attack ships. For example, maybe it's easier to move those missiles around on ships. Maybe due to Taiwan's rough terrain and possible destruction of road and bridges during war, it is harder to move those missile trucks in position etc. Also, if we use the small boats as missile trucks, one can imagine using them close to the coast, where the coast terrain might actually obscure radar scan. This will give extra cover for the small ships while the enemy's ships become exposed to the Taiwan's land based radar...etc.

Of course, I am just speculating a bit here from some information I read in the past..these type of things only experts can answer what is practical and what is not. But my point is that too many people just dismiss some weapon platforms or systems without actually giving some good analysis on the possibilities they give. As the author had shown, bigger ships might not be all useless for Taiwan, and in fact they might be more useful.

Another interesting thing the author mentioned is the importance of Army, which I also agree. Even in Navy and Air Force's stand point of view, Army is extremely important. Navy and Air Forces cannot defend their own bases directly, Army is the one capable of doing that. Even if Taiwan's navy and air force can "bring the fight" to the enemy and away from Taiwan, there is no guarantee that the enemy won't be able to slip in attacks on Taiwan itself. That is when Taiwan has to "defend itself" directly, and the only way is the army and possibly the police (SWAT). But, as the author pointed out, Army is probably the one branch in the military that requires the most rethinking etc, such as the parts regarding more training in urban warfare and using natural advantages of being the defenders.

Other details that the author did not mention or perhaps did not consider is the hardening of the bases and the use of SAM. But I guess those are more of technical details comparing to the other issues.

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