To defend against a possible Chinese invasion is Taiwan Considering to buy the decommissioned American warship USS Independence, a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that had only 11 years of service.
In addition to being one of the several advanced weapons platforms on which the U.S. military windows were dumped on it by a privatized and profiting Military-Industrial Complex (MIC), it also has little or no potential to defend itself against it. ‘ asymmetric ‘military threat posed by China.
Pentagon-ordered war games by Rand Corporation have repeatedly shown devastating American defeatwhere China overwhelms the U.S. and Taiwanese defenses with thousands of small civilian and military boats, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles across the 90-mile range, clearing a path for amphibious forces to land and begin the invasion.
Thus, older platforms such as aircraft carriers, 66 F-16V or 108 M-1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBT), which Taiwan has acquired, can not counter such an unconventional attack.
This is not to mention that the Chinese will aim to end at least the initial phase of the invasion quickly before the United States intervenes to prevent a major fire that could even drag into neighboring South Korea and Japan.
The island is located on a powder keg with three flash points along – the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait itself and the South China Sea (SCS), with China a party in all three.
Even if the United States intervenes, it cannot sustain a protracted war because of logistical difficulties stemming from its “away” disadvantage, according to former Deputy Secretary of Defense David A. Ochmanek.
China’s cost-effective strategy
What’s worse, a Taiwanese solution to this very problem is opposition from camps in its Ministry of National Defense (MND) and military leadership, which continues to overlook it for the smart platforms as evidenced by USS Independence procurement.
Called to Overall Defense Concept (ODC) by its creator Admiral Lee Hsin-min (Retd), the former Chief of Staff of the Republic of China, recommends the asymmetrical and cheap weapon against the swarm that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is capable of unleashing.
These include large stocks of advanced UAVs for target capture, data connection, early warning, mobile radar roles and tactical reconnaissance; low cost precision short range ammunition; insidious fast attack vessels and small missile boats scattered and hidden over the island’s 200 fishing ports; flexible sea mine systems that can be dropped by even non-specialized mine layers; a massive array of rapid-response short- and medium-range surface-to-air missiles; Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) to take ships out; large batteries of its own highly capable Hsiung Feng III land-cum-anti-ship missile; Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPAD) and; High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Largely based on ‘fighting a swarm with a swarm’, it practically affects a regular military (Taiwan) fighting a protracted guerrilla war at a strategic level in a multi-layered extermination campaign.
Despite the doctrine more appropriate to Taiwan’s threatening environment, Michael Hunzekeran assistant professor at George Mason University’s School of Policy and Government, deplores Taiwan’s civilian and defense establishment that opposes it.
He testified before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in February 2021, saying they are driven by “interpersonal hostility, disagreement in principle or bureaucratic inertia.”
Taiwan’s defense reforms to tackle China
Taiwan also has its political demands. First, conspicuous and menacing-looking F-16 jets or M-109 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPHs) serve as a more reliable symbol of security to civilians, as opposed to subdued platforms such as naval attack vessels or drones.
Implementing such massive defense reforms to implement the ODC could also put the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP) on a warpath with its rival the Kuomintang (KMT), which has often advocated reconciliation and reunification with China.
Moreover, pressuring the ODC to tell the Taiwanese people to live under a constant threat of an invasion would jeopardize the political fortunes of the ruling dispensation.
As for the USS Independence, it was quiet discontinued in July 2021, while the second LCS boat, the lead-class USS Freedom, was decommissioned on September 29 of that year.
Independence’s sister ship with trimaran hull Coronado and other ships in the Freedom class, including Fort Worth, Detroit and Little Rock, is being pushed by the US Navy to retire in its 2022 budget – after serving as late as 2014, 2012, 2016 and 2017, respectively.
That USS Zumwalt and F-35 are legendary in their fall from grace before the U.S. military – the ultra-sophisticated and resulting astronomical price tags and cost overruns became rather an obstacle in conventional warfare.
Rather, US military leaders admit their handicap before Anti-Access / Area Denial (A2 / AD) weapons provided by Russia and China.
That Taiwan announced its interest in independence a few days before six U.S. lawmakers visited the country on April 15 only exposes the political economy of free-market capitalism, which rather erodes military capacity. The war in Ukraine has turned any conventional military and strategic wisdom upside down.
Those who are not willing to draw on the technological, political and economic experience while continuing on the beaten path can get a rude shock.