– Breaking Defense – If ground forces are obsolete, why are the Chinese bothering to build all those artificial islands in the South China Sea? The answer to that is key to the US Army’s emerging vision of its future role, a complex combination of old-fashioned close combat, resilient wireless networks, and advanced long-range weapons that extend the Army’s reach well beyond the land. China is “building land… to project power outward from land into the maritime and aerospace domains,” the Army’s chief futurist, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, argued yesterday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Much like the Japanese in World War II, he said, the Chinese see island bases as a means to dominate the seas and airspace around them, allowing them to sink ships and down aircraft. The Chinese strategy has only become more effective in the modern era with the proliferation of long-range precision-guided missiles.