Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You show me yours and I will show you mine.

The following are two recent examples of US “Military- Academic” reviews on the Chinese “Military-Academic” reviews on the US military naval and air power doctrines, enjoy.

Makes you wonder how long have those two been married, doesn't it?

First example from US Air Force's Air & Space Power Journal:


Published: 1 June 2008
Air & Space Power Journal - Summer 2008

The Future US Air Force by Min Zengfu [ 闵增富 ]. PLA Publishing House, no. 40 Di’anmen Xidajie Street, Xicheng District, Beijing, China, 2007, 318 pages, ¥22.00 ($3.00) (softcover).

How does the Chinese military view the US Air Force (USAF)? The Future US Air Force, recently published by a Chinese senior colonel, may provide the answer.

The author divides his book into nine chapters. The first two, “Roadmap Leading to the Future USAF” and “Military Transformation as Seen by the USAF,” serve as background descriptions. They tell how the objective of “Global Reach and Global Power,” put forth in 1990, evolved into “Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power” in the USAF document Air Force Vision 2020 (2000). The author agrees that Vision 2020 is much more detailed and executable because it now specifies six core capabilities necessary for fulfilling the general objective.

Against this background, the following five chapters focus on key aspects of building the future USAF: force organization and structure; doctrines and plans; key capabilities and technologies; weapons; and the future battlefield and force deployment. Readers will appreciate the author’s painstaking effort in creating this framework, which greatly facilitates an understanding of future USAF objectives.

Not only is the framework noteworthy but also the contents prove informative and insightful. Chapter 3 discusses why the USAF restructured its forces into nine major commands as well as 18 numbered air forces after the first Gulf War. The author contends that this new force configuration serves the USAF’s global mission much better and will remain unchanged for a relatively long period.

Chapter 4 discusses the development of USAF doctrines and operational plans, describing how Col John Warden’s five-ring system theory—as well as derivative theories, such as parallel operations and effects-based operations—influenced the planning and execution of Operation Allied Force in Kosovo and various operations in the ongoing war in Iraq. The author points out that through adapting itself, the current and future USAF will feature three force types: basic forces, special task forces, and mobility forces, all designed to execute future operations ranging from command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), to global strike, global mobility, homeland security, global reactive strike, and nuclear operations.

Chapters 5 and 6 provide in-depth discussion on the key capabilities, critical technologies, and advanced air and space weaponry needed for developing the future USAF. Their content may be familiar to some US audiences but will surely attract many Chinese readers thirsty for such exciting information.

The USAF differs from most other air forces in that it flies not only in the air but also more and more in space. This trend has certainly not gone unnoticed. Chapter 7 asserts that the USAF now clearly regards air and space as one seamless battlefield and has begun building and deploying its forces to cover the airspace vertically, all the way into deep space, and horizontally, over every corner of the globe. One can easily find the book loudly echoing the famous speech by Gen John Jumper, former USAF chief of staff: “Let me be perfectly clear—in our Air Force, every Airman is expeditionary.”

Chapter 8 examines the risks involved in Air Force transformation and ways of measuring its success. Readers who do not have time to read the entire book may want to skip this chapter but should not miss the final one—“Revelations from USAF Transformation.” Here, the author does a wonderful job of comparing the USAF with its counterpart in the former Soviet Union and present-day Russia. Although his admiration of the USAF is obvious, he is somewhat critical of the force structure of the Russian Air Force. Specifically, the author believes that the integration of air, space, air defense, and strategic forces under the USAF is a much more farsighted and far-reaching solution in terms of efficiency, budget control, utilization of resources/assets, and joint operations than the Russian command structure. However, he stops short of mentioning the fact that, in China, the Second Artillery Force is also a separate service. Nevertheless, he does poignantly state that “the strategic missile force does not have its own battle space [and] therefore lacks the sufficient basis of becoming a separate service” (p. 315).

This book of more than 300 pages depicts a clear picture of how the USAF, guided by the road map of Air Force Vision 2020, is fast becoming a truly expeditionary force while gradually shifting from an air-centric focus to a space-centric one. Readers may not find much discussion in the book about a third equally important battlespace—cyberspace. But we should not blame the author since the USAF added cyberspace to its mission statement only recently; even today, its definition remains the subject of debate.

A top-class Chinese military researcher, Sr Col Min Zengfu has published several influential books and more than 100 articles/monographs. The sheer volume of publications speaks to the breadth and depth of his knowledge. The Future US Air Force is his latest addition but certainly not the last. The author notes in the foreword that “this book is intended for those who want to get a glimpse of the future US Air Force.” By many measures, it fulfills that purpose.

Guocheng Jiang
Maxwell AFB, Alabama


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

Second Example from US Navy's Naval Review:
Assessing The New U.S. Maritime Strategy -- A Window into Chinese Thinking
by Dr Andrew S. Erickson


The new U.S. maritime strategy embodies a historic reassessment of the international system and how the nation can best pursue its interests in harmony with those of other states. In light of the strategy’s focus on building partnerships to better safeguard the global maritime commons, it is vital that American leaders clearly understand the frank and unvarnished views of allies, friends, and potential partners. The strategy’s unveiling at the Naval War College on 17 October 2007 with the leaders of nearly a hundred navies and coast guards present demonstrated initial global maritime inclusiveness. The new maritime strategy is generating responses from numerous states. As U.S. leaders work to implement global maritime partnerships in the years ahead, they must carefully study the reactions of the nations and maritime forces with which they hope to work.

Chinese responses warrant especially close consideration. China is a key global stakeholder with which the United States shares many common maritime interests. Beijing has not made any official public statements on the maritime strategy thus far. Yet Chinese opinions on this matter are clearly important, even if they suggest that in some areas the two nations must “agree to disagree.” Chinese reactions to the maritime strategy provide a window into a larger strategic dynamic— not just in East Asia, where China is already developing as a great power, but globally, where it has the potential to play a major role as well. How the United States can maintain its existing status and role while China continues to rise—as the world’s greatest developed and developing powers attempt to reach an understanding that might be termed “competitive coexistence”—will be perhaps the critical question in international relations for the twenty-fi rst century. To that end, this study analyzes three of the most significant unofficial Chinese assessments of the maritime strategy publicly available to date and offers annotated full-length translations (which follow, in the form of essays) so that a foreign audience can survey the documents themselves.

The first article is by Lu Rude, emeritus professor at the Dalian Naval Vessel Academy. Lu has been a consistent proponent of maritime and naval development and contributes frequently to debates on China’s naval priorities. Lu enlisted in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 1951, beginning a military career that would last for half a century, of which over four decades would be devoted to education in maritime navigation. Lu’s full-page article on the new maritime strategy appeared in People’s Navy, the offi cial newspaper of the PLAN, which is published by the service’s Political Department and provides guidance for offi cers and enlisted personnel.13 Lu outlines the new U.S. maritime strategy’s context, content, and implications for international security, particularly in East Asia. He lauds the strategy’s emphasis on confl ict prevention and international cooperation but places the onus on the United States to demonstrate its strategic sincerity through concrete actions. He highlights the document’s emphasis on multinational cooperation against unconventional threats but also draws attention to the Navy’s stated mission of “deterring potential competitors.”

The second article is by Wang Baofu, researcher and deputy director of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defense University’s Institute for Strategic Studies.14 Wang’s comments and ssessments on international relations and arms control appear frequently in China’s official media, as well as in popular media and academic publications.15 His present article appeared in Study Times, a journal of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School. An outspoken critic of the American intervention in Iraq, Wang sees the new maritime strategy as the outgrowth of a comprehensive reassessment of U.S. military policy, methods, and objectives in the aftermath of both 9/11 and the early phases of the Iraq war

The third article is by Su Hao, a well published professor in the Department of Diplomacy at the China Foreign Affairs University and director of its Center for Asia-Pacifi c Studies.17 He is also a board member in a range of Chinese organizations that focus on security, cooperation, and bilateral exchange. Su has emphasized that Chinese national interests and identity are primarily continental. He displays a deep understanding of the strategy’s wording, having also published a full-length Chinese translation. Su’s article appeared in Leaders, a popular magazine on current affairs and policy published in Hong Kong for domestic consumption there, as well as for a select mainland audience.

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