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Planning for War Termination with China

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Research paper

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It is as critical for the United States to prepare for war termination in the event of a conflict with China as it is to prepare for the conflict itself. AirSea Battle proposes concepts for military interaction between the two countries, but fails to specify how military leadership is to set the conditions for a transition from Phase 3 to Phase 0 operations. An armed conflict over the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea is not impossible, and such a war could involve a Chinese strike against Americas power projection forces and infrastructure in the Pacific. Should that happen, the political leadership will task the Joint Force Commander JFC with setting the military conditions required to terminate the conflict in line with the United States strategic objectives. This paper outlines the war termination plan following a notional attack by China that disables an American aircraft carrier and bombards American bases in Guam and Okinawa while Chinese amphibious forces simultaneously execute an assault to capture islands in the South China Sea currently occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Following the Chinese strike, an operational plan should initially use coercive diplomacy and avoid escalation to facilitate war termination through a negotiated peace. If this approach fails, the JFC can exploit the factor of time to ratchet-up military and non-military costs while managing the associated risk of vertical and horizontal escalation. A plan that denies Chinas initial aims to control and exploit the islands and then provides options for de-escalation acknowledges Chinese culture and negotiation style and may allow the United States to achieve its strategic objectives with lower costs and less risk than other military-centric courses of action. Mainland strikes, as proposed by the AirSea Battle concept, would limit war termination options due to their escalatory nature and inability to affect the center of gravity.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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