The U.S. would face few but significant hurdles if the military were to confront China following a Taiwan invasion, military experts told Fox News Digital.
“Unfortunately, talking broadly and in overall terms, the Chinese have dramatically increased their air, sea, space, cyber and missile capabilities in the last couple of decades,” said James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy under President Trump.
“In some of the scenarios that could happen, we might well be at a competitive disadvantage initially because they have home-field advantage in terms of their capacity to quickly mobilize local forces, and that’s really important to the PRC.”
Four-star Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, wrote in a memo last week that he believes that the U.S. and China “will fight in 2025,” adding, “I hope I am wrong.” He pointed to the upcoming elections in the U.S. and Taiwan, which he believed could provide a distraction and allow China to make a move on the island.
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The general said “a fortified, ready, integrated and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain” needs to be established to prepare for the looming fight.
And CIA Director William Burns reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his military to be ready for action no later than 2027.
Anderson, along with Heino Klinck, senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, stressed that it is difficult to predict how a conflict might play out because “it would be very scenario dependent.”
“There are areas in which they have dominance, and there are also areas in which we have dominance, so it’s not exactly an apples and oranges type of comparison,” Klinck, who previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said, highlighting the “tyranny of distance” as the greatest concern for the U.S. military.
“China certainly has geographic advantages just based on the fact that it’s only 100 miles from Taiwan, so that’s something that requires advanced logistical planning,” he added.
China, in a localized conflict, would have shorter supply lines compared to the U.S., even with partners and military bases in the region creating a baseline from which to operate. And it could more easily support its naval forces with land-based missile systems.
Anderson also highlighted that the U.S. would likely run out of its sophisticated, conventional missiles “in probably a matter of days.” U.S. officials announced in October 2022 that they could not maintain the same pace of supply for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion because of the risk posed by reduced stockpiles of high-end munitions.
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“In essence, we have depleted our own reserves of munitions in order to supply the Ukrainians,” Klinck said. “It’s demonstrated the fragility of our defense industrial base. And the fact that we have reportedly pulled munitions out of Israel and are planning on pulling certain types of equipment out of South Korea should demonstrate and convey the seriousness of this issue.”
The “tyranny of distance” would cause the greater problem, and Anderson highlighted that it might take at least two weeks for the U.S. to fully supply both manpower and weapons to the region to maintain any kind of sustained, intensified action against China.
“There are ways to overcome that,” Anderson stressed. “For example, we can and should do a much better job of stockpiling sufficient quantities of munitions in the region and protecting them, but, right now, that’s our biggest disadvantage.”
Anderson did highlight that, despite these shortcomings, the U.S. has one significant and overwhelming advantage over China: The last conflict in which Beijing deployed its forces was in the 1979 border war with Vietnam, and it has no extensive military or actual combat experience since then compared to its American counterparts.
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“The fact is they have no experience conducting a major amphibious assault on the scale that would be required to take the island of Taiwan,” Anderson added. “Yes, they did attack various outlying islands of Taiwan during multiple crises in the 1950s, but those were very small-scale operations.”
He added that large-scale amphibious operations are “the most difficult combat operations to execute.”
“There are no good parallels, and … from our perspective, the fact that the Chinese don’t have a good parallel is good news because this is a competitive disadvantage for them.”
Klinck stressed that the lack of parallels is not necessarily a good thing, simply because the U.S. cannot predict how China would approach the problem.
“The fact that they have geography on their side, the fact that the Chinese economy and businesses are integrated into Chinese war plans as well. So, for instance, the Chinese have, in fact, exercised with commercial roll-on, roll-off vessels with commercial airliners,” Klinck noted.
“There’s a variety of lift assets the Chinese could bring to play that Western militaries may not necessarily depend on.”
Fox News Digital’s Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
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