US is not yet ready for the ‘Great Power’ conflict era: WSJ
As the US squeezes itself into Asia, the Chinese opposition against US intervention remains real and present.
A report published by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday reveals that a US Air Force officer learned that China's missile force "rained down on the bases and ports the US relied on in the region," adding that American combat aircraft and munitions would turn into smoldering ruins in days.
“My response was, ‘Holy crap. We are going to lose if we fight like this,’” he recalled.
Lt. Gen. Hinote expressed his nervousness and urgency to come up with the necessary solutions in case of a "Chinese attack." WSJ mentions that the lieutenant general posted yellow sticky notes on the walls of his closet at the Pentagon, listing different solutions.
“I did not have an idea how to resolve them,” said Hinote. “I was struck how quickly China had advanced, and how our long-held doctrines about warfare were becoming obsolete.”
A new combat era
Half a decade ago, the US was introduced into a new era of great-power competition with Russia and China, which it isn't prepared for due to the multiple obstacles still in the way, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Read next: Deploying more US troops to Taiwan too risky: Report
Why isn't the US prepared? Despite its large annual defense budget, which reached more than $800 billion, the US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, big-ticket weapons that didn't "pan out", and internal conflicts over budgets and disagreements around the "threat from Beijing," all set back the military performance and development.
Corporate consolidation in the American defense industry has resulted in fewer arms manufacturers for the Pentagon. Shipyards are struggling to build the submarines the Navy says it needs to compete with China's larger naval fleet, while weapon designers are racing to catch up with China and Russia in developing superfast hypersonic missiles.
How is the US military failing?
When the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington ran a wargame last year simulating a Chinese response to the US intervention in Taiwan, the US side ran out of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles within a week.
It is worth noting that the military is struggling to meet the desired recruitment goals, which is delaying US plans to position more forces within a critical range of China, according to WSJ.
Read next: Russia, China to keep raising awareness of NATO danger in Asia-Pacific
That said, a conflict with China wouldn't be like the US' past wars, it would be fighting with its Asian bases under attack and would be in need of a large and long-term supply of supply routes, the report added.
A mounting US-Sino threat
In recent years, Beijing developed its security by shifting its security terrain around China. For example, in the South China Sea, it built artificial islands and allegedly fortified them with military installations, according to WSJ, to claim control over the area and deny the US Navy freedom in the area.
Read next: China drives away US guided-missile cruiser: Military
China boosted its military spending by 7% and improved its air force, missiles and submarines, along with more advanced training. According to the Pentagon, China's weapon developments and other capabilities are used to destroy opponents' satellites and threaten infrastructure, as reported by WSJ.
US expansion in Asia
In its efforts to meet the new challenge, the Pentagon has expanded its access to bases in the Philippines and Japan while shrinking the US military footprint in the Middle East. New tactics have been devised to disperse US forces and make them less of an inviting target for China’s increasingly powerful missiles.
Read next: Chinese FM: US should 'hit brakes' to avoid 'inevitable' conflict
The US Defense Ministry increased the annual budget to $14 billion and the military is developing technology to be able to share data with US air, land, sea and space forces. This comes while the Pentagon reveals that the changes won't be ready until the 2030s, which it claims could motivate China to "attack" before the US military bears fruit, according to WSJ.
According to the report, a conflict in the Western Pacific could also motivate Russia's military to carry out President Vladimir Putin's alleged goals of reviving Russian power in what it considers to be its "traditional sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe."
"This is a massive problem to dig out of," said Eric Wesley, a retired Army lieutenant general who was the deputy commanding general of the Army Futures Command, which oversees the transformation of the service.“We are in a vulnerable period where we are pursuing this deterrence capability and their time is running out.”