By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) A shocking new report from an Australian think tank claims that due to lengthy U.S. wars in the Middle East and years of budget cutbacks, China could easily best the United States in a conflict that occurred in the South China Sea or East China Sea.
The new report from the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Center argues that decades of war, budget shortfalls, a lack of investment and other factors have caused the U.S. to lose its military edge in the region.
Also, the decline in American military capability comes has come just as China made massive investments in its own forces while projecting power throughout the South China Sea region.
“The combined effect of ongoing wars in the Middle East, budget austerity, underinvestment in advanced military capabilities and the scale of America’s liberal order-building agenda has left the US armed forces ill-prepared for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific,” the study said.
“Chinese counter-intervention systems have undermined America’s ability to project power into the Indo-Pacific, raising the risk that China could use limited force to achieve a fait accompli victory before America can respond; and challenging US security guarantees in the process,” the study noted further.
The disturbing study claims the U.S. would have difficulty responding to Chinese aggression in an all-out war in the Indo-Pacific, especially in waters closer to the Chinese mainland.
“Asymmetries in power, time, distance and interest would all work against an effective American response. Under present-day U.S. posture in the region, most American and allied bases and forward-deployed ships, troops and aircraft would struggle to survive a PLA salvo attack, and would be initially forced to focus on damage limitation rather than blunting the thrust of a Chinese offensive.,” the report noted.
“American forces that are able to operate would be highly constrained in the early phases of a crisis — lacking air and naval dominance, outnumbered by their PLA equivalents and severely challenged by the loss of enabling infrastructure, like functioning airstrips, fuel depots and port facilities, all of which would be at least temporarily degraded by precision strikes.”
To that end, however, the report seems not to consider that U.S. allies including Australia, Japan, and South Korea, would be on hand to assist American forces. Also, the report does not consider the fact that the United States is a NATO member and that, by treaty, other member nations are bound to Washington’s defense.
Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper recently traveled to the Pacific and stressed the need for American forces to counter a China that is increasingly aggressive.
“It’s pretty vast, in terms of where they’re going or where they’re touching,” Esper said during his trip, which took place earlier this month.
“So this is the competition we’ve been talking about. We’ve got to be able to compete with them — left of conflict, of course — to make sure that we are standing up for sovereignty, standing up for freedom of navigation … standing up for democracy, all those things that we value.”
Esper, the Australian report notes, has inherited a Defense Department at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, which has degraded overall force structure. Additionally, the report noted that political dysfunction in Washington, mostly through the Obama years when Congress failed repeatedly to pass budgets and funded the Pentagon through unreliable continuing resolutions, also allowed China to close the capability gap.
The report recommends the U.S. bolster its military capabilities in the Pacific, stage new military exercises and forge partnerships with key allies in the region, among other measures.
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