Sunday, February 3, 2013

Let’s Talk China and the Pacific

Chinese Naval Review
I recently was able to attend West 2013, the Navy’s West Coast Exposition. The main focus this year was the shift in attention to the Pacific. That meant that there was a great deal of talk about our old friends in China who have been becoming increasingly aggressive in asserting their presence, especially in the Western Pacific. There were several interesting things discussed the day I was there. Here is a short summary of one panel I found very interesting:

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is serving as the primary vehicle to extend China’s influence further away from its borders. New and improved capabilities have transformed the navy into a force that can take on increasingly complex and distant military roles.
“The PLAN is at the tip of the Chinese spear,” said Dr. David M. Finkelstein (Vice President and Director, China studies, Center for Naval Analyses). Finkelstein was moderating the panel on the Chinese navy at West 2013.
Capt. Jim Fanell, USN Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Pacific Fleet) said that the PLAN has become a very capable fighting force. PLAN maneuvers increasingly are about countering the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Make no mistake: the PLAN is focused on war at sea and sinking an opposing fleet,” Capt. Fanell said.
Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, professor and John A. van Beuren chair of Asia-Pacific Studies, Strategy and Policy, Naval War College, said that the key operational challenge is China’s family of land- and sea-based antiship missiles. China has been theorizing about the combined use of different missiles in antiship warfare for more than a decade.
The PLAN has an anti-carrier fleet, and it is considering broadening its strategy, Yoshihara added. He noted that China’s constant harassment of Japanese ships is introducing operational fatigue in Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and its coast guard.
After returning from the exposition I noticed that the Japanese had detained a Chinese fishing vessel near Okinawa. That little incident is a good example of that “passive” harassment and seems to back up those statements.
Live Long and Prosper...

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