Recent Musings from the World of Naval Warfare Studies

As add-on to my recent post on naval warfare, there were some recent developments, which only further enhance the thesis of China and the US moving towards a sorting out of affairs in the Pacific theater.   On July 24 Reuters reported the “…U.S. military said…it sent a Navy warship through the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from China, a move likely to anger China during a period of tense relations between Washington and Beijing.”

That Reuters article has all sorts of alarming innuendo:

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms. China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory. On Wednesday, Chinese Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news briefing on a defense white paper, the first like it in several years to outline the military’s strategic concerns, that China would make its greatest effort for peaceful reunification with Taiwan. “If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he said.”

A more interesting article appeared in Real Clear Defense, concerning the development of China’s intelligence gathering ships.  The author (a retired admiral from the Australian Navy) positions the strategic environment as not quite a return to the Cold War alignment, but readers will know that I think we are much closer as I stated in the June essay, but we would both agree on the significance of the new ships.   Here are a few points the author makes:

“…operational consequences of China’s increasing naval capabilities and its efforts to change the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific which are forcing a return to the practices of that period. One is that the PLAN has a growing force of very capable, high endurance ships designed and equipped to collect intelligence and it is sending them increasingly far afield and for longer periods.”

That is the current course and direction.  China wants power projection and bigger role on the world stage and that journey begins in the Pacific theater, but this will different than the naval arms race and the lead up to the First World War.  Yes, weapon systems will matter, but rather than building Dreadnaught Class ships, this race will be more about how to couple technology, sensors and computing platforms to various weapon systems.  It will be about connectivity, bandwidth, computing power, storage for data sets, applications and how these technology elements are coupled to weapon systems.  Further from the article:

The second is that increased computing power brings increased detection and analytical capabilities. Big Brother is out there. Intelligence gatherers have a much greater capacity to hear and understand. Commanders therefore need to evolve new ways of operating under such watchful eyes, as well as returning to many of the customary practices of the past.”

As always, my thoughts on these matters might be completely wrong.

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