Admiral “Rat” Willard is taking seriously China’s anti-access/area denial capability – evidenced by their work in an anti-carrier ballistic missile:
“An analogy using a Western term would be ‘initial operational capability (IOC),’ whereby … I think China would perceive that it has an operational capability now, but they continue to develop it,” Adm. Willard told the Asahi Shimbun. “I would gauge it as about the equivalent of a U.S. system that has achieved IOC.”
The four-star admiral, who has been an outspoken skeptic of China’s claims that its large-scale military buildup is peaceful, said the U.S. deployment assessment is based on China’s press reports and continued testing.
The new weapon, the “D” version of China’s DF-21 medium-range missile, involves firing the mobile missile into space, returning it into the atmosphere and then maneuvering it to its target
Military officials consider using ballistic missiles against ships at sea to be a difficult task that requires a variety of air, sea and space sensors, navigation systems and precision guidance technology – capabilities not typical of other Chinese missiles.
A tough nut to crack, but an important element – in combination with a large force of diesel submarines – in the Chinese strategy of pushing US influence out of a strategically important region.
In turn, Washington is responding to this threat by arguing exactly how quickly the defense budget should be slashed:
Richard Fisher, a China military-affairs specialist, said the new ASBM is only one part of a series of new Chinese weapons that threaten the region.
“When we add the ASBM to the [People's Liberation Army's] growing anti-satellite capabilities, growing numbers of submarines, and quite soon, its fifth-generation fighter, we are seeing the erection of a new Chinese wall in the western Pacific, for which the Obama administration has offered almost nothing in defensive response,” Mr. Fisher said.
“Clearly, China’s communist leadership is not impressed by the administration’s ending of F-22 production, its retirement of the Navy’s nuclear cruise missile, START Treaty reductions in U.S. missile warheads, and its refusal to consider U.S. space warfare capabilities. Such weakness is the surest way to invite military adventurism from China,” he added.
The only thing more expensive than deterrence is blundering into a fair fight.
There is a third alternative of course: Decline. It had to happen sooner or later: Nothing lasts forever. I’m just a little surprised that it appears to be our national policy.