Pondering a Peer

Something to ponder. A Chinese TV channel is broadcasting a series about the Chinese military.

On the one hand, the Chinese military personnel shown are almost all young, fit, male – what we all used to think of as soldiers. (There are of course many females in the Chinese military – poke around the internet, and it is easy to find videos of female Chinese soldiers dancing). But it seems that China is designing a military to win conflicts, not to promote social change.

On the other hand, the video is subtitled … in Chinese. All 1,400 Million Chinese read the same language, but don’t talk the same language. It remains to be seen if that kind of barrier will have more impact on China’s military capabilities than the impact of US (& general Western) exaggeration of racial & gender differences on our own military capabilities.

It is very clear from the equipment shown that the Chinese military is a peer to any Western force. Modern domestically-produced electronics, weapons, missiles, jets, helicopters, ships. It is a reasonable guess that there are fewer Western components in Chinese military equipment than Chinese components in Western equipment. China is not like the Taliban – driving around in US equipment abandoned by Joe Biden that they have no indigenous way to maintain. And further, the People’s Liberation Army is training hard.

I found this interesting because I am reading John Michael Greer’s “Twilight’s Last Fading” about a future US Political Class attempt to stage a color revolution in Tanzania, East Africa. China intervenes, sinks the US carrier task force sent to support the coup, and clears the under-performing F-35s from the skies. Without friendly adjacent countries to stage supply lines (c.f. Poland & the Ukraine), US forces have to surrender. Greer’s scenario seems quite plausible, although doubtless many would object.

Bottom line – Since China is half a world away and no threat to the US (as well as providing the US with much of its solar panels, windmills, consumer goods, exotic metals, and medications), maybe this is the time for our Political Class to think twice before getting aggressive with a peer.


FSA: Failed State of America?


If you’re interested in what’s happening in China, here’s an excellent resource:


Interesting topic, Gavin.

My perspective comes from a soldier’s view who has fought communist forces. I have had up-close and personal experiences.

I would agree one should never underestimate the enemy. OTOH the enemy has certain characteristics that shouldn’t be disregarded.

We can say China has lots of new, shiny war vehicles. We can also say Tsun Tee’s Art of War was a Chinese product, to this day filled with wisdom. But these are not the Chinese of that time. These are COMMUNIST Chinese.

ALL communist militaries exhibit the same basic characteristics. They are regimented. The fight hierarchically. That makes them relatively inflexible. Still quite *dangerous * but less difficult to beat. Goodness knows the Vietnamese had some seriously fine troops. But they lost the ground war because they were rigid.

I believe ALL tyrannical systems have rigid fighting characteristics. That is their weakness and that will be their downfall. Equipment never won a war - men did.


But, today, our military - officially - no longer knows what men even are.


You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
    ― Donald Rumsfeld

The army you have.


They can no longer use the good stuff that @Devereaux did:

NAVSEA has worked successfully for decades to improve the corrosion-control performance of coatings while simultaneously reducing the adverse impact of coatings on the environment.



What we are seeing in the Ukraine is a reminder that supply is as important (more important?) than the valor of the men (and yes, they are men!) on the front lines. If one side cannot make enough of what is needed, or cannot deliver it to the fighting men, then that side is going to lose in the long run.

That was the key in John Michael Greer’s “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”. The US forces sent to secure the coup followed standard practices. The Chinese military did a great job of taking them by surprise. In other circumstances, the US forces might have been able to recover and fight back, but in the particular situation of trying to fight a war on the the other side of the world with no local allies to provide secure resupply routes, the war was lost. Communists do not have a monopoly on rigidity.

Every country has its own style. Greer has one of his characters explain the differences:
Say we and the Russians and the Chinese all wanted to know about the sand on a beach. The Russians would put a dozen elite Navy frogmen in one of their attack subs, send them ashore in the dead of night, get a couple of buckets of sand and rush them back to Moscow. We’d drop a billion or two on a satellite with special sand-viewing cameras and send it up into orbit. The Chinese? They’d get a thousand ordinary tourists to go swimming on that beach, right out there in broad daylight, and when they got back to Beijing, every one of them would just shake out their beach towels. They’d end up knowing more about the sand than anybody”.


Supply is important. But note that supply can be accomplished in a variety of ways. We have long had forces that are able to be self-sustaining in a hostile environment - SEALS, Green Berets, MARSOC, the list goes on.

The question is who is running the fight and how are they approaching it. I am willing to bet the Chinese system of “supply” is a good bit more rigid than ours, especially in a real fight. The postulated “fight” is really a skirmish it seems to me; further one we really have no dog in the hunt. We have repeatedly demonstrated combat superiority - while still managing to “lose the fight”. Other aspects apply, and we have had no good reason to go to war excepting 9/11, and even that should have been a skirmish, with us withdrawing when done. So if your point is that our political class doesn’t know the first thing about fighting, I would agree. But the discussion started with discussing the military. And while today’s “leaders” don’t seem to have a clue on how to lead, that doesn’t mean the military itself is toothless.

As you said, each nation has somewhat characteristic military, peculiar to them. America has always had a “non-traditional}” military. To wit, when in an actual war, we rarely do what our “policy books” claim. Americans are rather individualistic. That shows in how they fight. They usual unusual tactics, unusual approaches to combat, effective approaches to the situation. Perhaps the individual higher officers are more “regimented”, but down on the ground they are most definitely not. Individual soldiers are often among the most unconventional problem solvers out there. NOT necessarily what their higher-ups would want or even expect, but it’s what they get. China, and communist nations in general, will not allow such individuality - it threatens the core of their control over “the people”.


This is just CCP propaganda don’t fall for it


Wargaming-a-chinese-invasion-of-Taiwan.pdf (naval.com.br)


This seems a likely scenario. China has been practicing to counter (read sink) carriers for many years. Remember the sub which surfaced, undetected, near a US carrier during a fleet exercise maybe 10 years ago? Also, China has been perfecting ballistic counter-carrier missiles.


Also, their stealth fighters have weapons bays about a meter longer than those of the F-35. That will allow use of:
a) long range air-to-air missiles to take out AWACS and refueling aircraft at ~300 miles even if, hypothetically, the Chinese aircraft can’t detect the F-35s 100 miles ahead of the targets; and
b) medium range anti-ship missiles (plus long range anti-ship externally).

Even without PLAN subs, this forces the US fleet into defending against dissimilar threats simultaneously which is a relatively recently added capability.


Alarming Navy Intel Slide Warns Of China’s 200 Times Greater Shipbuilding Capacity (thedrive.com)

The data compiled by the Office of Naval Intelligence says that a growing gap in fleet sizes is being helped by China’s shipbuilders being more than 200 times more capable of producing surface warships and submarines. This underscores longstanding concerns about the U.S. Navy’s ability to challenge Chinese fleets, as well as sustain its forces afloat, in any future high-end conflict.

In a statement to The War Zone, the U.S. Navy has confirmed the authenticity of the slide, seen in full below, which has been circulating online.


“Engineering casualty”. ?Is that a dead sailor or engine - or both.