China-Taiwan: Notes on a war game

NBC’s Meet the Press Reports published a new online episode this past week in which the network sponsored a war game for a China-Taiwan scenario developing in 2027.  The episode, entitled “War Games: Battle for Taiwan,” and hosted by Chuck Todd, can be accessed here.

These are just a few notes on a topic that needs a much more in-depth treatment.  But it’s worth registering some top-level comments as this subject garners more and more attention in the coming days.

I would say at the outset that criticism here isn’t intended in any way to mock the effort made to hold the war game and put it together for presentation.  It’s a tough proposition for anyone, and summarizing the results is invariably a matter of choosing and framing priorities, regardless of who’s doing it. Continue reading “China-Taiwan: Notes on a war game”

USS Connecticut: Close encounter in the South China Sea

Media reported a U.S. Navy statement Thursday that USS Connecticut (SSN-22), a nuclear-powered attack submarine, had suffered an underwater collision on 2 October 2021 while operating in the South China Sea, and was headed to Guam for inspection.  No sailors were killed in the collision; 11 were injured, but the Navy hasn’t indicated the injuries are life-threatening.

The statement, quoted at the U.S. Naval Institute website, is as follows:

“The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) struck an object while submerged on the afternoon of Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. The safety of the crew remains the Navy’s top priority. There are no life-threatening injuries,” Capt. Bill Clinton told USNI News.

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated.”

Subsequent reports in the mainstream media have indicated Connecticut was in the South China Sea. Continue reading “USS Connecticut: Close encounter in the South China Sea”

Defense cuts and the fragile, undefended bubble we now live in

Peace in our time.

What is there to say that most readers even need to hear?  As he did so often, Reagan summed it up nicely in a brief, well-known phrase:

Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.

An especially important point here is that the converse is true.  The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak. Continue reading “Defense cuts and the fragile, undefended bubble we now live in”

Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big

Breaching the peace.

Mariners and the specialty mariner press know it’s big.  But mariners can’t fix this.  It will take national policies to fix it, and non-specialist citizens therefore need to understand its importance.

So, I reiterate: this is big.  After several years of preparations for this day (see, for example, here, here, and here), China has issued a unilateral order that foreign fishing vessels will have to obtain permits from China to fish in two-thirds of the South China Sea (SCS), an area in which China has long made excessive territorial claims. Continue reading “Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big”

China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop

Post-Pax blues.

If you were wondering whether it’s bad that the Chinese navy maneuvered aggressively near a U.S. Navy ship last week, ordering the ship to stop and then driving a Chinese ship right in front of it, dangerously close, the answer is yes.  It’s bad – bad from two standpoints: naval professionalism, and China’s posture in the South China Sea.  We’ll look at both here.

Briefly, the backstory is that China’s new aircraft carrier, the former-Soviet carrier refitted by China and named the Liaoning, transited in November from a northern port to the South China Sea for her first operations in southerly waters.  In late November, Liaoning got underway with an escort of two destroyers and two frigates to conduct operations in the South China Sea.

These are Liaoning’s first naval activities outside of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, Continue reading “China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop”