PLA bombers hold drills in West Pacific ‘in coordination with carrier group’

Global Times – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy reportedly sent its most powerful bombers on Wednesday for drills in the West Pacific, joining the Liaoning aircraft carrier group, which has been holding exercises there since the start of the month, a move experts said could be a rehearsal for keeping foreign forces from interfering in the Taiwan question.

Amateur Hour Part I: The Chinese Invasion of Taiwan

War on the Rocks – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set off a flurry of handwringing over Taiwan. Russia, in this interpretation, “broke the ice” by attacking Ukraine, emboldening China versus Taiwan. But any such action by China would likely run into a similar buzzsaw of resistance, while lacking Russian advantages such as access to overland transit. Ukraine is not Taiwan, and regardless of what Chinese leadership thinks they are learning about the benefits of naked aggression, the People’s Liberation Army lacks the necessary power projection and sustainment capability and capacity to execute an opposed occupation of a densely urbanized island packed with citizens who have no interest in living under Communist rule.

Can John Arquilla’s Rules of New Age Warfare Be Taken to Sea?

CIMSEC – Thomas Friedman’s 13 April New York Times opinion piece recounts an interview with John Arquilla, a distinguished former grand strategy instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School.  In explaining Ukraine’s impressive military performance in the face of the Russian invasion, Arquilla cites three rules of new age warfare from his book Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare, and their application is quite fitting.  If these rules concocted for cyberwarfare apply to ground warfare, might they also apply to warfare at sea?  If so, what are the implications?

Pacific Marines move to formalize role as the stand-in force

Defense News – As China expanded the reach of its weapons throughout the South China Sea over the last decade, U.S. weapons development focused on increasing the standoff range, so American forces could stay safe as an outside force shooting in. But U.S. Marines in the Pacific have continued to operate inside that striking range, and they’re now doubling down with a new concept outlining their role as a stand-in force.

China Maritime Report No. 21: Civilian Shipping and Maritime Militia: The Logistics Backbone of a Taiwan Invasion

Chinese Maritime Studies Institute – Most analysts looking at the Chinese military threat to Taiwan conclude that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is incapable of invading the island because it lacks the landing ships to transport adequate quantities of troops and equipment across the Taiwan Strait. This report challenges that conventional wisdom, arguing that the PLA intends to meet these requirements by requisitioning civilian vessels operated by members of China’s maritime militia (海上民兵). Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government and military have taken steps to strengthen the national defense mobilization system to ensure the military has ample quantities of trained militia forces to support a cross-strait invasion. Despite ongoing challenges—including poor data management, inconsistent training quality, and gaps in the regulatory system—and uncertainties associated with foreign-flagged Chinese ships, this concept of operations could prove good enough to enable a large-scale amphibious assault.

Breaking the Black Sea Blockade

Comment is Freed – Sir Lawrence Freedman writes that “There is, however, another aspect to this war which has received insufficient attention, though it is now slowly coming into focus and where pressure could build for a NATO operation. This is the need to relieve the blockade Russia has successfully inflicted on Ukraine’s southern ports in the Black Sea. This is urgent not only because of the effect on Ukraine’s battered economy but also on supplies of essential agricultural products to the rest of the world. If Russian forces continue to be pushed back, and as the diplomacy to bring the war to a conclusion is stepped up, this will be a critical issue to be addressed, possibly linked to Russian demands for relief from sanctions. If this is not addressed diplomatically then there could be demands on the major maritime powers to mount freedom of navigation operations to break the blockade.”

The light amphibious warship is delayed, but the Marine Corps has a temporary solution

Defense News – The U.S. Marine Corps planned to have its light amphibious warship on contract by now, ushering in a small ship that will move Marines around island chains and coastlines without relying on traditional, large ships. But moving forward on the program and awarding that contract simply hasn’t been possible, after the effort was crowded out of the Navy’s shipbuilding budget two years in a row.