U.S. Needs to Push Allies to Prepare for a Potential Conflict with China, Panel Says

Over the next few years, the United States will likely press allies like South Korea harder to be ready for a conflict with China that may arise over Taiwan’s future, a leading scholar on global affairs at Johns Hopkins University said Tuesday. The United States will struggle to win a war with Beijing without support […]

Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Sailors wave ROK and U.S. flags during a port visit of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in Busan, Republic of Korea, Sept. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Over the next few years, the United States will likely press allies like South Korea harder to be ready for a conflict with China that may arise over Taiwan’s future, a leading scholar on global affairs at Johns Hopkins University said Tuesday.

The United States will struggle to win a war with Beijing without support from allies, said Hal Brands, speaking at a Wilson Center event on China, the Republic of Korea and the United States.

China’s current effort to modernize its forces should be complete in 2027 or so, while the United States continues to rely ”on a small number of bases, aircraft carriers and other large, expensive and highly vulnerable platforms,” Brands said. The United States probably does not have enough long-range, precision-strike munitions even for a short conflict.

“The bad news is the military situation is likely to get worse,” he said.

Brands said although the unity of response among European Union members, NATO and the United States came as a welcome surprise following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what is actually needed in the case of China is to show they are willing to act together before military force is applied.

In his contribution to the center’s latest monograph, “Between the Eagle and the Dragon,” Brands wrote, “a war in which China confronts the combined military power of the United States, Japan, Australia, and Taiwan is different than one in which it confronts just Washington and Taipei. In some cases, it is a matter of strategic real estate” from India across the entire Pacific.

Allies and partners could provide needed industrial base capacity in areas from shipbuilding to ammunition production, as well as economic and technological punishment on China, he said.

Allies might also hesitate in showing their support against China if Beijing invades Taiwan because China is the largest trading partner, Brands said.

Yet, “the possibility of a coalition response is the best way to deter” an aggressive China, he said.

In his keynote address, noting that China “is critical to every single country” in the Indo-Pacific and the United States, Edgar Kagan, senior director for East Asia and Oceania at the National Security Council, said, “it’s not a zero sum game” when it comes to Washington’s competition with Beijing. Every country “has to figure out how to have better relations with China” while preserving their independence.

Using South Korea as an example, Elizabeth Economy, senior advisor for China in the Commerce Department, said there’s some interest in Seoul political circles about being more responsive when it comes to Taiwan and China’s increasing threat to re-unite the self-governing island with the mainland by force.

But that willingness to help is tempered by recalling Beijing’s response to Korea’s deployment of the American-made heater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system. China, seeing the system as a potentially offensive weapon, imposed wide-ranging embargoes on Korean manufacturers of electronics and auto manufacturers.

Ships from the U.S., Japan and Republic of Korea conducted a trilateral ballistic missile defense exercise in the Sea of Japan, on Oct. 6, 2022. US Navy Photo

Seoul is also cautious when antagonizing Beijing because China is an ally of North Korea, Seoul’s most immediate threat with large conventional forces and nuclear weapons.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite assuming an unprecedented third term as president and head of the Communist Party, is facing new challenges as 2022 comes to a close, said Jude Blanchette, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Xi’s most recent “Zero-Covid” lockdowns have sparked widespread public anger and protests.

The lockdowns are continuing to slow an economy that is built on exports. Many manufacturing plants are again closed to stop the pandemic’s latest surge, making it difficult for China to get its economy moving again domestically and rebuild supply chains to restore foreign trade, Blanchette said.

“It’s difficult to predict what China might do” even a year ahead, Blanchette said.

Meg Lundsbarger, a former senior official at the International Monetary Fund, said Xi and the party must adjust to China’s aging population and its needs, but she doubted Beijing’s ability to shift to a consumption-based economy that would require.

Xi and the party leadership weren’t in “a good place to navigate” these domestic concerns at the same time as foreign investors are pulling back or out of China, she added.

But Blanchette added, Xi “is not going to change his world view,” starting with insisting on domestic control and China as a global power.

Kagan saw encouraging signs in closer cooperation among Washington, Seoul and Tokyo on security and economic issues that would have been difficult to predict 10 years ago.

He saw a “real opportunity” for the United States and Korea in “aligning our technological innovation” efforts and diversification of manufacturing and the supply problems by being less reliant on China which resulted after COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions.

USS Chancellorsville Performs South China Sea FONOP, Draws Chinese Protests

The Tuesday passage of a U.S. guided missile cruiser past a disputed island chain in the South China Sea has drawn protests from Beijing and claims that the People’s Liberation Army expelled the ship from Chinese territorial waters. According to U.S. 7th Fleet, USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) sailed past the Spratly Island chain on Tuesday as […]

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) conducts routine underway operations in the South China Sea, Nov. 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Tuesday passage of a U.S. guided missile cruiser past a disputed island chain in the South China Sea has drawn protests from Beijing and claims that the People’s Liberation Army expelled the ship from Chinese territorial waters.

According to U.S. 7th Fleet, USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) sailed past the Spratly Island chain on Tuesday as part of a freedom of navigation operation.

“USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law. At the conclusion of the operation, USS Chancellorsville exited the excessive claim area and continued operations in the South China Sea,” reads the statement from 7th Fleet.
“The freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam and Taiwan.”

China asserts that foreign warships passing within the territorial sea of its claims in the South China Sea require prior approval from Beijing. Under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, a warship make an “innocent passage” through another country’s territorial waters with our prior notification.

The Chinese state-supported South China Sea Probing Initiative published satellite images on Twitter showing the cruiser was operating near the Chinese artificial island at Fiery Cross Reef along with a U.S. P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

SCS Probing Initiative

Under international law, a warship can transit through a nation’s territorial waters “so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state,” according to Article 19 of the UNLOSC.

In a statement following the transit, the PLA Southern Theater issued a statement claiming Chinese forces drove Chancellorsville out of Chinese territorial waters.

Chancellorsville illegally intruded into the waters adjacent to China’s Nansha islands and reefs without the approval of the Chinese Government, and organized naval and air forces in the Chinese southern theater of the People’s Liberation Army to follow and monitor and give a warning to drive them away,” reads a translation of the statement. “The U.S. military’s actions have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, which is another ironclad proof of its hegemony in navigation and militarization of the South China Sea, and fully demonstrates that the United States is an out-and-out security risk maker in the South China Sea.”

In response, the U.S. Navy pushed back against the Chinese statement.

“The PRC’s statement about this mission is false. USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) conducted this FONOP in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in waters where high seas freedoms apply,” reads a 7th Fleet statement.
“The operation reflects our continued commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea as a principle. The United States is defending every nation’s right to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Chancellorsville did here. Nothing the PRC says otherwise will deter us.”

The Japan-based Chancellorsville has been operating with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in recent months.

The last reported U.S. FONOP in the South China Sea was performed by the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) in July.

U.S. Needs to Demonstrate Ability to Assist Taiwan, Congressman Says

The U.S. needs to show Beijing that it can stop China if Chinese President Xi Jinping were to risk a cross-strait invasion to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, a congressman involved with military innovation this week. The United States must realize that it cannot rely on the Taiwanese people to be the only fighters, as is […]

Taiwan’s indigenous fighter. CNA Photo

The U.S. needs to show Beijing that it can stop China if Chinese President Xi Jinping were to risk a cross-strait invasion to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, a congressman involved with military innovation this week.

The United States must realize that it cannot rely on the Taiwanese people to be the only fighters, as is the case in Ukraine, if China invades Taiwan, Rep. Seth Moulton, (D-Mass.) and co-chair of the congressional Future Defense Task Force, said Tuesday at a Hudson Institute event. Washington would need to commit American forces to the fight.

There are “lots of parallels in legacy motivations” between the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and Xi Jinping’s threats to forcibly unite the self-governing democracy with the mainland, he said.

Taiwan would need to have in place the weapons, systems and trained forces to hold off the invasion long enough for the United States to overcome a blockade of the island to come to its aid, Moulton said. Ukraine, on the other hand, is being supplied overland by rail and highway.

With Ukraine, the better late than never approach worked, but that is not an option with Taiwan, Moulton said.

The Biden administration rallied NATO and the European Union to Kyiv’s defense with arms and ammunition, economic aid, refugee relocation and imposed severe sanctions on Russian leaders, business leaders and its commercial sector.

Ukraine showed “the usefulness of the national guard” in blunting the Russian invasion. Many of its members were well-trained and had combat experience in the Dombas region fighting separatists backed by the Kremlin since 2014. Kyiv took preparedness seriously, Moulton said.

“Taiwan is behind, but making progress,” he said.

The value of asymmetric warfare –“a $1,000 drone” destroying much more expensive tanks – was also made clear on land and in the Black Sea on Russian warships, he said. Later, Moulton cited the Ukrainians’ use of Starlink, a commercially available internet system, that gave its communications networks redundancy when attacked as another successful Ukrainian use of unconventional means in combat.

Where resiliency is required for nuclear threats, using commercial networks would also give U.S. forces redundancy in conventional operations, he added.

The Pentagon did “a remarkable job of sharing intelligence with the Ukrainians [and] information with the world” on Russia’s intentions before Feb. 24 and its intentions to use disinformation campaigns to cover “false flag” operations and lies over the fall of the government in Kyiv, Moulton said.

Moulton warned that Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine had to be taken seriously since it is part of Moscow’s military doctrine. “That is a risk for humanity” that Russia could be willing to take.

Similarly, he viewed advancing artificial intelligence technology in warfare without having “norms, treaties and conventions” in place, as there has been with nuclear arms, as increasingly dangerous.

“China doesn’t care about civilian casualties; China doesn’t care about collateral damage” in using all the weapons in its arsenal, including artificial intelligence, “the future of warfare,” Moulton said.

The goal of the House Armed Services Committee Future Defense Task Force is “to drive the forces to do more and do it quickly,” he said. In its “report card” on progress in areas like asymmetric warfare, Moulton said, “the Army and Navy are dragging their feet” citing size of force and infrastructure as reasons progress seems slow.

Those were poor excuses for slow response if Taiwan reached a military crisis point, he said.

On the other hand, the Marine Corps and Air Force are “moving but not fast enough” to meet new challenges posed by a rapidly modernizing Chinese military, Moulton said. He singled out the Defense Innovation Unit for its cut- through- the-red- tape of the acquisition process as a success in adopting existing commercial technology for the Pentagon’s use.

He added while Congress has approved a number of authorities allowing flexibility in recruiting and retention as well as weapons systems development, the services have been slow to use these tools. At the same time, Congress itself has blocked the services’ moves to divest themselves from legacy systems to invest more in future technologies, creating more challenges to paying for future modernization.

Xi Jinping Has ‘Deliberate Timeline’ to Resolve Taiwan Issue, Says Security Expert

Washington should pay attention to Xi Jinping’s rhetoric when he talks about invading Taiwan, an Indo-Pacific security expert said last week. Xi “has a very deliberate timeline” on resolving the Taiwan issue, said John Hemmings, a senior director at the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum, speaking at a Hudson Institute online event. Hemmings added that there is […]

Xi Jinping President of the People’s Republic of China speak’s at a United Nations Office at Geneva on Jan. 18, 2017. UN Photo

Washington should pay attention to Xi Jinping’s rhetoric when he talks about invading Taiwan, an Indo-Pacific security expert said last week.

Xi “has a very deliberate timeline” on resolving the Taiwan issue, said John Hemmings, a senior director at the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum, speaking at a Hudson Institute online event.

Hemmings added that there is a danger in believing that China is a rational actor that wouldn’t risk an invasion that would be met with force, as President Joe Biden has said publicly several times.

Following Xi and Biden’s meeting this week in Indonesia, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a readout said Xi “stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations.”

“Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation; the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen! We hope to see, and are all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but cross-Strait peace and stability and ‘Taiwan independence’ are as irreconcilable as water and fire,” according to the readout.

Senior Pentagon officials, like Colin Kahl, the top civilian overseeing policy, expect Xi to increase military and economic pressure on Taiwan over the next two years but are not predicting an invasion.

Since late summer, Beijing has conducted live-fire and amphibious exercises simulating an invasion, increased its naval and air probing of the island’s defenses and test-fired missiles over Taiwan to express its anger at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to the island.

“The Chinese concept of sovereignty is extremely imperialistic,” not only when it comes to Taiwan, but in the South China Sea and along its land border with India, Hemmings said. He added that only since Russia invaded Ukraine have Europeans and other nations in the Indo-Pacific taken Chinese military threats against Taiwan seriously.

On defending Taiwan against Chinese aggression, Hemmings said it “looks like we’re doing the right thing” in signaling American intentions to Beijing and U.S. allies and partners, and bolstering the island’s military capabilities to deter an invasion. The European Union as a whole and individual members issued new strategic papers identifying China as a security threat with global ambitions.

Hemmings said questions of speed and integration hang over any united response to the immediate threat to Taiwan and others in the region when it comes to dealing with China, economically, diplomatically and militarily.

Citing retired Adm. Scott Swift, former U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, “command and control is a big issue” in the Indo-Pacific. Currently, allies and partners are “unable to work together in real time,” Hemmings said. “We should have the architecture there” now to respond together in a crisis on a digital battlefield or to misinformation campaigns.

Several times during the session Hemmings mentioned Xi’s commitment to digital technology that has both political and military uses.

A NATO-like alliance is unlikely to form in the Indo-Pacific to counter China, Hemmings said. Instead, “what we end up with is this fractured system” of different treaties with Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand.

But even under those treaties, the United States has done better at reassuring some allies than others, he said. He referred to Japan’s control of the Senkaku Islands in disputes with China and Russia versus Washington’s long-time lack of immediate response to China exercising territorial claims near the Philippines.

“We have to do it much better than what we’re doing,” he said.

There’s also a new technology-sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, known as AUKUS, that will eventually lead to Canberra having a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

On the Quad, the informal alliance between the U.S., India, Australia and Japan, Hemmings said “we’re under-employing the military aspect” of this economic and security partnership. The United States particularly needs to do “a better job of re-assuring India” of its support when it comes to China’s threat to its land borders and at sea.

In this new period of great power competition, Hemmings sees the challenge as systemic, with China as the leader and Russia as the assistant in pushing spheres of influence. Much of the world, including those closest to Beijing in southeast Asia, are resisting China’s push to choose its and Moscow’s approaches as the future, he argued. “They’re pushing back” in favor “of a free and open Pacific,” not dominated by a single power.

With allies, he said there are opportunities for national defense base and technology integration and acknowledged China’s threats to proprietary information in Silicon Valley.

As an example of Xi’s determination to have Beijing lead the world in digital technology, Hemmings cited China’s commitment to funding for its digital infrastructure during the COVID-19 shutdown that affected other areas of its economy. Xi “named data as a national resource” critical for domestic control and foreign expansion.

“Xi is a committed Marxist and futurist,” he added.

U.S. Pacific Allies Want to Work Together to Blunt Chinese Nuclear Threat

As China builds up its nuclear weapons arsenal and expands its conventional military forces, United States allies in the Pacific are asking Washington for an extended deterrence alliance in the region, three security experts said Wednesday. Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment, said China has played up the idea […]

Chinese DF-41 missiles in 2020.

As China builds up its nuclear weapons arsenal and expands its conventional military forces, United States allies in the Pacific are asking Washington for an extended deterrence alliance in the region, three security experts said Wednesday.

Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment, said China has played up the idea that extended deterrence “tends to be very fragile” when a crisis arises. Beijing believes it could split apart allies before a conflict with the threat of using theater nuclear weapons he said.

This immediate threat from China to use nuclear weapons against U.S. allies – like Japan and the Republic of Korea – in Northeast Asia has caused Tokyo and Seoul to consider new security arrangements, Yoshihara said. Efforts to reposition nuclear weapons in the region and drafting new agreements on employment that were once “unthinkable” could now be possible.

There is no treaty arrangement like NATO in the Indo-Pacific that has a consultative process for the use of nuclear weapons, the panelists noted.

Russia has used this same threat of using theater nuclear weapons since 2014 and raised the possibility again following major setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine. Both Moscow and Beijing have included this option in publicly announced military doctrine.

China is building hundreds of new missile silos in the western part of the country, fielding road mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles, developing a fleet of new strategic bombers with improved long-range strike capabilities and putting to sea additional ballistic missile submarines, Yoshihara noted. These developments mark “a change in tone” in what analysts believed Beijing’s ambitions were as late as 2010.

Gone is the “mean and effective force” of sea- and land-based nuclear weapons to deter attack, replaced with a force fitting with President Xi Jinping’s goal of China possessing “a world-class military” that is capable of acting regionally and globally.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation online event, Franklin Miller, a principal at the Scowcroft Group, described China’s nuclear build-up “as highly impressive.” He noted that the build-up happened as Beijing probed western resolve over its building of artificial islands in the South China Sea, territorial claims across the Indo-Pacific, harassment of neighbors like Taiwan and Vietnam and provocative maritime activities around the Japanese Senkaku Islands.

“What is the aim of this build-up” at all levels of range and across the triad, he asked rhetorically.

Miller and the others said the major consequence of what is often called the “Chinese nuclear breakout” is that “we must be thinking of deterring Russia and China simultaneously,” not consecutively. The question the U.S. must answer is “can we cover the targets Russia and China hold most dear” to deter the two nations.

When answering that question, “we need to have a sense of urgency” that includes pursuing missile defense for Guam, potentially expanding the Australia United Kingdom United States (AUKUS) technology transfer agreement to include Japan and South Korea, and rebuilding America’s own conventional weapons arsenal.

Brad Roberts, former deputy assistant defense secretary for nuclear and missile and defense policy, said it also means Washington needs to handle threats in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific.

Several times during the discussion, Russia’s and China’s previous declaration of a “no limits” partnership came up as a possibility that could set off simultaneous crises. But what the partnership actually means after the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is unclear.

“We’re going to be asking more [of] allies; they’re going to be asking more of us” when it comes to deterrence, he said.

Roberts said the nuclear posture the United States has now reflects the end of the Cold War. “That posture is just of alignment” with the changed circumstances globally. In addition to working more closely with allies, he said Washington’s current commitment to rebuilding the U.S. nuclear triad is actually a replacement strategy rather than a modernization one.

On the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile, which the Biden administration canceled, the panelists agreed it was an option that had value. Yoshihara said that in his meetings with Japanese officials, they regularly asked why the administration canceled the program.

Other options that panelists offered to address an assurance and deterrence gap without trying to match Moscow and Beijing weapon for weapon are to ensure all bombers, including the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, are capable of carrying long-range stand-off missiles, build more B-21s than projected and extend the construction of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.

Roberts stressed that while militaries may have a doctrine for how to use theater nuclear weapons during a crisis, there remains a “question of political engagement” on their employment. “This is a new problem, how do we deter Xi and [Vladimir] Putin?” He added, “Interestingly, Putin has backed down recently” from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

‘Considerable uncertainties’ cloud forecasts for HMM, Yang Ming

“Container demand is expected to be under downward pressure due to considerable uncertainties,” HMM said in its third-quarter earnings release.

The post ‘Considerable uncertainties’ cloud forecasts for HMM, Yang Ming appeared first on FreightWaves.

Despite hefty gains in the first three quarters of 2022, Asian ocean carriers HMM and Yang Ming are cautious about what the future holds.

HMM, which reports in Korean won, said its third-quarter revenue rose 27.1% year over year to 5.1 trillion won ($3.76 billion) from 4 trillion won ($2.7 billion). Operating profit in Q3 was 2.6 trillion won ($1.9 billion), up 14.5% from 2.27 trillion won ($1.68 billion) in the third quarter of 2021, and net profit was 2.61 trillion won ($1.91 billion), up 13.3% from 2.3 trillion won ($1.7 billion) last year. 

For the first nine months of 2022, revenue totaled 15 trillion won ($11.13 billion), up 61% from 9.3 trillion won ($6.91 billion) in the same period last year, and operating profit was 8.6 trillion won ($6.42 billion), up 85.7% from 4.6 trillion won ($3.46 billion) in 2021. Net profit shot up by 225% from 2.6 trillion won ($1.97 billion) in 2021 to 8.6 trillion won ($6.41 billion) in the first nine months of 2022, HMM said Wednesday. 

“HMM has maintained a robust operating margin of 57.7% on a cumulative basis for nine months in 2022, resulting from favorable market conditions and sales capability despite rising costs,” the earnings statement said. “HMM will seek to maximize profitability by securing high-yield cargo and implementing cost-cutting measures by enhancing operational efficiency.” 

Looking ahead, the South Korean carrier said that “container demand is expected to be under downward pressure due to considerable uncertainties mainly related to widespread inflation, economic slowdown and geopolitical tensions.”

HMM added that weakening purchasing power and major retailers’ increased inventories also would negatively impact global container volumes. 

In July, HMM unveiled a $11.3 billion growth strategy that includes expanding its container ship fleet capacity from 820,000 twenty-foot equivalent units to 1.2 million TEUs, acquiring terminals and increasing its digitalization efforts. 

Yang Ming faces ‘uncertainty’

In its two-paragraph news release Thursday, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. reported after-tax profit in the third quarter in New Taiwan dollars of NT$49.75 billion ($1.7 billion), with earnings per share of NT$14.25. 

Q3 consolidated revenues totaled NT$99.81 billion ($3.41 billion), Yang Ming said. The Taiwanese carrier did not provide comparisons to prior quarters, but in August, Yang Ming reported Q2 consolidated revenue, converted to U.S. dollars, totaled $3.8 billion. 

The Taiwanese carrier said Thursday its after-tax profit for the first three quarters of 2022 “improved” by 50.95% year over year to NT$165.86 billion ($5.66 billion). Consolidated revenues for the first three quarters totaled NT$315.96 billion ($10.79 billion). 

“In the first three quarters of 2022, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and global inflation surge had an impact on the container shipping industry,” the Yang Ming statement said. “The unresolved port congestion and stalled U.S. West Coast contract negotiations also added uncertainty in the supply chain. In the face of these challenges, Yang Ming will continue to maintain schedule integrity and remain cautiously optimistic in the fourth quarter.” 

HMM growing container ship fleet as part of $11B investment

Yang Ming: Revenue up nearly 50% — end of story

YM Tutorial embarking on maiden voyage to Port of LA

Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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Rep. Elaine Luria Loses House Seat to Navy Vet Jen Kiggans

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), a former nuclear-qualified surface warfare officer, lost her House seat on Tuesday to fellow Navy veteran Jen Kiggans. Luria, the vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee who has been vocal in her criticisms of the Navy’s shipbuilding strategy, lost to her Republican opponent, a former Navy helicopter pilot who […]

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), Virginia State Senator Jen Kiggans

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), a former nuclear-qualified surface warfare officer, lost her House seat on Tuesday to fellow Navy veteran Jen Kiggans.

Luria, the vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee who has been vocal in her criticisms of the Navy’s shipbuilding strategy, lost to her Republican opponent, a former Navy helicopter pilot who has been a Virginia state senator since 2020.

“The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of our democracy, and I congratulate Jen Kiggans on her win and wish her success. I have instructed my team to be as helpful as possible to ensure a smooth transition and continue providing constituent services Coastal Virginians,” Luria wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.

In one of the more competitive House races during the 2022 midterm elections, Kiggans edged Luria out of a seat she flipped in the 2018 midterms. The Associated Press called the race for Kiggans late Tuesday evening. With 240 of 247 precincts reporting votes, Luria had 47.8% to Kiggans’ 51.9%, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Kiggans spent a decade in the Navy and flew the SH-3 Sea King and the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, according to her campaign biography.

She will now represent Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district, which has close ties to both the shipbuilding industry and the Navy. The district borders Norfolk, where one of the Navy’s four public shipyards and Norfolk Naval Station are located. It’s also not far from Newport News, where HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding builds the Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines.

Multiple House races have not been called, so whether Democrats will retain control of the House or if Republicans will gain a narrow majority.

Should Republicans win a majority in the lower chamber going into the next Congress, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), currently the ranking member of HASC, would likely become the panel’s chair. HASC seapower and projection forces ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) won reelection, setting him up to chair the subcommittee if Republicans gain the majority.

Luria, who has been the vice chair of HASC since February 2021, has repeatedly criticized the Navy’s budget strategy, particularly its divest to invest approach in which the service has sought to shed legacy platforms to invest in new technology. The Virginia Democrat has opposed the Navy’s proposals to decommission its aging cruisers and plans to decommission more ships than the servic plans to buy in a given year.

One of Luria’s frequent criticisms of the Navy is that the service neither tells Congress what it needs to prepare for future conflict nor does it explain the risks if it doesn’t have those resources.

“I don’t think that there’s really a coherent maritime strategy bought into from the administration, from the top down and from every level of leadership in the Pentagon. And without being able to convey what the strategy is, I feel that the process is kind of just a shell game with the budget,” Luria said at an event in Washington, D.C., last December.

Luria, who has been a member of Congress since January 2019, has supported a boost to the defense spending topline. She has also sounded the alarm over China’s growing fleet and argued the United States should clearly state its intentions to help Taiwan should China try to seize the island.

Luria spent 20 years in the Navy, including a stint as the executive officer of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG-68).

Navy Expanding Attack Submarine Presence on Guam as a Hedge Against Growing Chinese Fleet

ARLINGTON, Va. — Amid strategic competition with China, the United States plans to augment its ability to operate submarines out of Guam, the commander of U.S. submarine forces in the Pacific said today. After sending Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN-761) to Guam earlier this year, the Navy will spend the next five […]

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN-761) moors at Naval Base Guam from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a homeport shift, March 21, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

ARLINGTON, Va. — Amid strategic competition with China, the United States plans to augment its ability to operate submarines out of Guam, the commander of U.S. submarine forces in the Pacific said today.

After sending Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN-761) to Guam earlier this year, the Navy will spend the next five to 10 years building out both its maintenance capacity and training capabilities on the U.S. territory.

“Looking to the future, we are going to expand our submarine operating capability from Guam to optimize our presence and warfighting capacity in the Western Pacific,” Rear Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, the commander of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said Wednesday at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium.

“This is going to include augmenting our maintenance capacity with the necessary facilities, infrastructure and personnel; building additional pier facilities and services; and expanding the capabilities of our shore-based training facilities in Guam,” he added.

That timeline to expand submarine capacity and capabilities out of the U.S. island territory corresponds with what Jablon described as the “decade of maximum danger,” as it relates to China’s desire to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.

“And that specifically refers to the [People’s Republic of China]. You know, we’ve heard we’re at an inflection point. It’s a critical decade. It’s a decisive decade. And it’s true. That is my number one concern as the Pacific Fleet force commander for the submarine force. We are in the decade of maximum danger,” Jablon said.

Sailors assigned to the Australian navy Collins-class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) prepare to receive hotel services and supplies during a bilateral training event with the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), Sept. 13, 2019. US Navy photo.

“China has fielded the largest navy in the world, guaranteeing its numerical advantage in the south and east China Seas. And as the [People’s Liberation Army Navy] surface fleet and undersea force improves their capabilities, we will intensify our efforts to prepare our undersea force to deter, and if necessary, defeat the PLAN.”

After forward-deploying Springfield to Guam, the U.S. Navy now has five attack boats operating from the island. Both of the Navy’s submarine tenders – USS Frank Cable (AS-40) and USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) – are also stationed in Guam.

Jablon pointed to a rearming and reloading exercise that Frank Cable performed earlier this year in Australia with Springfield and Royal Australian Navy Collins-class attack boat HMAS Farncomb (SSG-74) as an example of the U.S. Navy’s undersea capability in the region.

The admiral said he expects to have a replacement for the 1970s-era submarine tenders by the late 2020s.

“Both the Emory S. Land and the Frank Cable will be in operation until that tender turnover, so there will not be a gap in our tender capabilities,” he said.

Jablon also pointed to Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada’s (SSBN-733) visit to Guam at the start of this year. The Navy rarely announces where its boomers are operating.

“It reflected our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and complimented the many exercises, operations, training and military cooperation activities conducted by our strategic forces throughout the world,” Jablon said of the port visit.

French Foreign Minister Warns Russian Victory in Ukraine Could Spark Worldwide Wars of Conquest

Wars of conquest could become the new normal if unprovoked attacks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine go unchecked, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs warned last week. The invasion provides models for other aggressors in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Catherine Colonna said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. […]

Pallets holding munitions are transported off an aircraft cargo loader into a Boeing 747 at Travis Air Force Base, California, April 26, 2022. The United States continues to reaffirm its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. US AIr Force Photo

Wars of conquest could become the new normal if unprovoked attacks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine go unchecked, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs warned last week.

The invasion provides models for other aggressors in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Catherine Colonna said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The stakes are far beyond Ukraine and Europe,” she said. “We cannot afford that” to happen.

On Ukraine, she said France and the European Union agree that “we will support our partners as long as it takes.” France itself is taking in 2,000 Ukrainian troops for advanced weapons systems training and the other 26 EU members will train 13,000 more.

“We’re doing our utmost to meet our responsibilities,” if not always discussing publicly exactly what Paris and Kyiv have agreed upon. She added that France has been sending artillery, light-armored vehicles and ammunition to assist the Ukrainians, and has strengthened the supply chain to keep weapons and systems moving. France is also working with other European nations on common defense investments to improve their own security at a lower cost than going it alone.

When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Colonna said, “we call on Russia to act [as] a responsible power.”

Noting that relations between France and the United States had reached a low point last year, Colonna said, “France may be a troublesome ally at times,” but “France is your ally and so is Europe.”

The abrupt cancellation of the major submarine construction contract between Paris and Canberra to build extended-range conventionally-powered submarines for Australia triggered France’s anger. In its place, Australia signed a technology-sharing agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, that includes building nuclear-powered submarines with the cooperation of London and Washington. In response, France recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States.

Since then, relations between Washington and Paris have improved. President Joe Biden is set to host French President Emmanuel Macron at his administration’s first state dinner in December.

Saying not all issues have been resolved between the two on trade, Colonna said, “we need each other; we need to trust each other.”

She downplayed the idea that strengthening the EU militarily affected NATO’s readiness as a security alliance. “A stronger NATO is good for Europe, and a stronger Europe is good for NATO.” As an example of that, Colonna said France, a leader in the EU, itself has dispatched forces to Romania and Estonia and other Baltic nations to demonstrate its commitment to NATO in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Likewise, the EU has consistently responded with tougher economic sanctions on the Kremlin for its aggression and last week added Iran to the list for supplying Moscow with kamikaze drones that are now targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

“Who are the good partners,” she asked rhetorically about EU support in Ukraine and now in the Indo-Pacific.

“We in Europe are ready, willing and able to meet our responsibilities” not only to Ukraine, despite its energy supply costs to EU members as winter approaches and rising inflation, especially on food prices, Colonna said.

She said those responsibilities also cover “terrorist threats in the Levant and Libya,” thwarting Iran’s ambitions to become a nuclear power, countering Russia’s Wagner Group efforts to destabilize the African Sahel and addressing China bullying Taiwan and making territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific.

Looking at the Indian and Pacific oceans, where France has possessions, she said “there can be no choice” if there is only one model – China’s – to follow. The alternative model offered by the U.S., the EU and others is an open one – fostering trade, connectivity and protecting the environment.

Colonna said Paris “is moving the EU in that direction” as a group and as individual nations.

China’s Accelerated Timeline to Take Taiwan Pushing Navy in the Pacific, Says CNO Gilday

Amid concerns that China could try to reunify the mainland with Taiwan faster than previously anticipated, the United States Navy is also eyeing a more immediate window for a potential conflict over the island, the service’s top officer said Wednesday. The Navy is still assessing how China’s recent 20th Party Congress meeting affects its plans […]

Amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, soldiers assigned to an army brigade under PLA Eastern Theatre Command stay on alert and prepare for landing during a ferrying and assault wave formation training exercise on May 7, 2022. PLA Photo

Amid concerns that China could try to reunify the mainland with Taiwan faster than previously anticipated, the United States Navy is also eyeing a more immediate window for a potential conflict over the island, the service’s top officer said Wednesday.

The Navy is still assessing how China’s recent 20th Party Congress meeting affects its plans for the fleet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said at a virtual event hosted by the Atlantic Council.

“It’s not just what President Xi says, but it’s how the Chinese behave and what they do. And what we’ve seen over the past 20 years is that they have delivered on every promise they’ve made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it,” Gilday said when asked about the so-called “Davidson window,” referring to former U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson testifying to Congress in 2021 that China wanted the capability to seize Taiwan within the next six years.

“When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind that has to be a 2022 window or a potentially a 2023 window. I can’t rule that out. I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that, it’s just that we can’t wish that away,” the CNO added.

During the Chinese Communist Party meeting on Sunday, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s ambitions to reunify Taiwan with mainland China. The next day, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the People’s Republic of China is moving on a faster timeline to take over the island.

U.S. Navy officials and members of Congress have invoked the 2027 timeline since Davidson’s March 2021 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, when he said the threat of China taking Taiwan was more imminent.

During the conversation at the Atlantic Council, Gilday also made the case for why readiness is his top priority as CNO.

“We are still recovering with our carrier force as an example for back-to-back deployments that we did 10 years ago. And so we’re still catching up on deferred maintenance so that we can get 50 years out of those platforms. So I’m not going to come off of the maintenance piece in terms of an area where we can save money because we just can’t,” he said. “And I would say the same thing about supply parts – about missiles and magazines, about training and readiness for the force. I just don’t think we can skimp on that. There are lessons of the past as recent as 2017 with the collisions that have caused me to rethink anybody’s challenging the money we’re putting into readiness and training.”

Gilday also discussed the Navy’s Project Overmatch initiative – meant to connect platforms and systems to a network that can share and transmit targeting data.

“Some of our allies and partners – I’m not going to mention which ones – but those that we see a higher likelihood of interoperability in the near term, we are sharing our Project Overmatch work with them. They’re highly interested. Some of our heads of navy have been to San Diego to visit Adm. Small and his team at [Naval Information Warfare Systems Command],” the CNO said, referring to Rear Adm. Doug Small, who Gilday put in charge of leading the Project Overmatch effort.

“And so it’s not lost on me the power of including them. We have to be inclusive, or we’re not going to be able to fight together. So we’re moving forward I think at a good pace with our allies and partners in that effort. We’re not holding back.”

While Gilday would not say which countries the U.S. is sharing the Project Overmatch information with, Navy officials have repeatedly made the case for interoperability and operating interchangeably with nations like France and the United Kingdom.

Another avenue for the U.S. Navy’s work with allies and partners has been the Task Force 59 effort in the Middle East, where U.S. 5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper is leading the charge on using unmanned systems to collect data for situational awareness in the region.

Gilday said that this work with allies and partners is helping the U.S. field unmanned capabilities within the next five years.

“I definitely see value in the key operational problem that Adm. Cooper’s getting after. We’re not just experimenting for experimentation’s sake. We are learning from what we’re doing. But the key operational problem we’re solving is increasing maritime domain awareness in an area of responsibility where we have fewer ships than we’d like to have,” the CNO said.

“And so we’re closing that gap with unmanned and we’re learning from it. And as a result of that, working closely with allies and partners, we’ll be able to field capability in this FYDP,” he added, referring to the Pentagon’s five-year budget outlook known as the Future Years Defense Program.