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Thread: Wargaming the South China Sea

  1. #1
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Wargaming the South China Sea

    Inspired by the 'Wargaming Small Wars' discussion*, has anyone kriegspiel'd any of the potential scenarios brewing in the South China Sea?

    * http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2781

    The Chinese look like they're already playing that game (China Adopts Board-Game Strategy to Blunt U.S. Pivot to Asia / http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-1...e-in-asia.html ).

    One potential scenario that has already attracted it's fair share of negative comments (but has anyone tried playing it out?) is 'How the United States Lost the Naval War of 2015'.

    Abstract:
    Years of strategic missteps in oceans policy, naval strategy and a force structure in decline set the stage for U.S. defeat at sea in 2015. After decades of double-digit budget increases, the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) was operating some of the most impressive systems in the world, including a medium-range ballistic missile that could hit a moving aircraft carrier and a super-quiet diesel electric submarine that was stealthier than U.S. nuclear submarines. Coupling this new asymmetric naval force to visionary maritime strategy and oceans policy, China ensured that all elements of national power promoted its goal of dominating the East China Sea. The United States, in contrast, had a declining naval force structured around 10 aircraft carriers spread thinly throughout the globe. With a maritime strategy focused on lower order partnerships,and a national oceans policy that devalued strategic interests in freedom of navigation, the stage was set for defeat at sea. This article recounts how China destroyed the USS George Washington in the East China Sea in 2015. The political fallout from the disaster ended 75 years of U.S. dominance in the Pacific Ocean and cemented China’s position as the Asian hegemon.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...act_id=1648631
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Adam G:

    That was a good article. That 'what if' of Red China sinking a ship or ships, denying they did so and standing as the innocent is very imaginative. And it has already happened, to the South Koreans.

    I wish I could say the things in that article could never happen, but they can. Oh well, at least as our ships disappear beneath the waves the crews can console themselves with the knowledge that they drowned and burned as part of an equal opportunity, fully inclusive Navy.

    One thing I would like to see wargamed is what the effect of the overthrow of the system of free navigation established and maintained by the RN and USN for the last 200 years will be on the world economy. Going from an environment of certainty to a oceanic free for all won't be conducive to trade and therefore the world standard of living.
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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Carl,
    We're simply seeing life imitating art, as Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia coalesce.

    Meanwhile, dual posting this. If you're out there, Captain; acknowledge, over.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/...A1K04B20140221

    (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday played down remarks by a senior Navy intelligence officer who told a public forum that he believed China was training its forces to be capable of carrying out a "short, sharp" war with Japan in the East China Sea.

    The comments by Captain James Fanell, director of intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet, were little noticed when he made them last week at a conference on maritime strategy called "West 2014" in San Diego. They can be seen here: link.reuters.com/qyq96v
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWhwm4SJxTw


    The Pentagon dismissed the statements made by a senior Navy intelligence officer in a forum regarding China’s alleged preparations for a “short, sharp war” with Japan. Director of Intelligence and Information Operations at the U.S. PACFLEET Captain James Fannell was speaking at a conference on maritime strategy titled “West 2014” when he made those comments based on reports they’ve been compiling about the situation in East Asia.

    Rear Admiral John Kirby, spokesperson for the Pentagon, reiterated the U.S. desire to cultivate stronger ties with China’s military while declining to comment on Fannell’s assessment of the situation in the East China Sea. Kirby added that it was Fannell’s “views to express.” When asked whether he agrees with the intelligence officer’s analysis, Kirby responded, “It’s for China to speak to China’s intentions and motivations and their relations with their neighbors. And nothing’s changed about our view here.” He noted that despite Fannell’s views, the Pentagon shares the belief that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has on the matter, “that we all continue to believe that the peaceful, prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world.”
    http://japandailypress.com/pentagon-...sment-2144698/
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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Anyone familiar with these folks?

    Relive historical operations in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Kosovo. Wrestle the Falklands under your control. Go “Down Town” around Hanoi and spar with the deadly NV air defences. Hunt down rogue nukes in Pakistan. Face off against India or China – from either side. Square off against the Soviet Union in the cold war, and against Russia in the new world order. Lead nuclear-powered sharks of steel against the masters of antisubmarine ops. Trade volleys of fire in close-quarters gun duels, or obliterate the enemy with sophisticated, heavy-hitting hypersonic missiles from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Survive massive, vicious air battles. Escort vital convoys to their destination, or make a last stand against all odds. When things escalate out of control, step up to unconventional or even nuclear weapons. Play the most dangerous game of hide and seek – at sea, on land and in the air. Command is the next generation of air/naval wargaming.
    http://www.warfaresims.com/?page_id=1101
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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
    Anyone familiar with these folks?
    http://www.warfaresims.com/?page_id=1101

    here's 1200-odd posts on the game you're quoting promo material from
    http://grogheads.com/forums/index.php?topic=4065.0

    and here's an interview with them
    http://grogheads.com/?p=3965

    basically, they were a bunch of guys doing dev work for the old Harpoon series of games, and had a variety of challenges with the way some fo the code was being manipulated by the community (and in some cases, being outright ripped off and passed off as someone else's work) so they formed their own company and released a new game that does all the things they said they wished Harpoon would've done for them.

    There have been complaints / issues with some features of CMANO, but by and large it's been pretty well-received and won a lot of year-end awards from the wargaming community.
    Brant
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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Don't forget there are plenty of options to explore that don't require a power cord

    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7...green-crescent
    http://www.victorypointgames.com/fleets-2025.html
    http://compassgames.com/show/product...ing_the_chains

    and keep an eye out here for others as they're published
    http://modernwarmagazine.com/
    Brant
    Wargaming and Strategy Gaming at GrogHeads
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    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

    Play more wargames!

  7. #7
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Another thread that's grist for these digital mills.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...160#post158160
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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    With Only 4 Major Types of Warship Left, Can the U.S. Navy Still Dominate the Seas?
    http://www.fool.com/investing/genera...an-the-us.aspx
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    On Saturday, December 6th 1941, the pride of the American fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor was already long obsolete, overtaken by the technology of air power and the ability to project air power with aircraft carrier.

    One has to wonder what aspect of our current "pride" is equally obsolete today. Perhaps the very carriers that replaced the battleships of the '30s.

    One thing we can count on, is that new technologies and asymmetric matchups will bring a new parity to naval power that has been absent sense WWII.

    The Trillion dollar question for the US is, what is the technology to invest in next? Equally, what are the technologies to place less reliance upon and to begin divesting of?
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    Looking back at the originally cited article, this part of the hypothetical scenario stands out:

    But U.S. credibility was low, and China was in ascent. China’s narrative shaped global media and public opinion: the incident was unfortunate and simply demonstrated to Japan and to the world the volatility and danger of U.S. nuclear-powered warships. The explosion was an accident and it would not have happened if the carrier had not been trying to intimidate China. In South America and the Middle East, and even in Europe, the feeling was strong that the ship was an instrument of imperialist power projection, operating in an area where it did not belong. Most Asians were inclined to think the United States should have been minding its own business.
    Granting that the scenario is set in 2015, but at this point the prediction above couldn't be more wrong: China's narrative is not shaping anyone's perception, and in East Asia at least China is generally seen as completely untrustworthy. From today's vantage point it seems hard to believe that the projected Chinese dominance of the perception war is even remotely likely.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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  11. #11
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    The Rand Corporation, one of the Defense Department’s most trusted and longest running contractors, was hired by the Pentagon to carry out a computerized and simulated war between China and the US. The results were so horrifying, they were deemed classified, but were leaked to the press. What the computer models showed was that in the most likely scenario for a US-China war, the United States was soundly defeated by the Chinese military.

    Most Americans will immediately and arrogantly close their ears to any suggestion that the US could lose a war to anyone. So, it’s a good thing that war correspondent David Axe and War Is Boring published the step-by-step actions each military takes to show readers exactly how and why America loses. The account, leaked to the media and published by Medium.com, shows how the blame lies squarely on one thing - the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s abysmal failure in combat.
    http://americanoutrage.us/index.php/...war-with-china
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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    I know it's HuffPo, but an interesting article from Artyom Lukin (Professor Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia).

    Imagining World War III -- In 2034

    VLADIVOSTOCK -- If the next world war is to happen, it will most likely be in Asia and feature a clash between the incumbent hegemon, the United States, and the principal challenger, China. The good news is China does not want war now and in the foreseeable future, primarily because Beijing knows too well that the odds are not on its side. But if we look ahead 20 years from now, in 2034, the circumstances will have shifted significantly.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/artyom...usaolp00000592
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I fear people, even here, don't realize the deeply dangerous straits the ongoing failure that is the F-35 is getting us into. People here are mostly ground guys who know about war but I think maybe many have the same blithe attitude toward having air supremacy the general public has. We have had it all our own way since 1943 but it can change. It really can. It is not like the sun coming up in the east.

    Air fighting is fighting with machines. If your machine is inferior to his machine, you lose. Pilot quality (boy we love to talk about how great our pilots are, but great depends on flying so check out how much our guys fly nowadays) and better tactics will help only so much if the other guys machine is better. That is even more so nowadays. We don't have tens of thousands P-51s and Hellcats contesting tens of thousands of FW-190s and Zeros. We have handfuls of machines contesting the sky. When there are only few machines their quality is that much more important.

    We have a very big, potentially fatal problem.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I fear people, even here, don't realize the deeply dangerous straits the ongoing failure that is the F-35 is getting us into. People here are mostly ground guys who know about war but I think maybe many have the same blithe attitude toward having air supremacy the general public has. We have had it all our own way since 1943 but it can change. It really can. It is not like the sun coming up in the east.

    Air fighting is fighting with machines. If your machine is inferior to his machine, you lose. Pilot quality (boy we love to talk about how great our pilots are, but great depends on flying so check out how much our guys fly nowadays) and better tactics will help only so much if the other guys machine is better. That is even more so nowadays. We don't have tens of thousands P-51s and Hellcats contesting tens of thousands of FW-190s and Zeros. We have handfuls of machines contesting the sky. When there are only few machines their quality is that much more important.

    We have a very big, potentially fatal problem.
    Since the end of WW2 the Air Force has always won, people seem to forget that point. They also forget that it is our land forces that keep loosing!!!!!and cannot even face that fact..... but we keep hammering the Air Force as being unable to Win.
    We have had complete Air Dominance for so long we just assume we will have it. We will have a big shock one day if we don't wake up.

    In general the Air Force is way to small!
    Last edited by slapout9; 08-06-2014 at 07:43 PM. Reason: stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Since the end of WW2 the Air Force has always won, people seem to forget that point. They also forget that it is our land forces that keep loosing!!!!!and cannot even face that fact..... but we keep hammering the Air Force as being unable to Win.
    We have had complete Air Dominance for so long we just assume we will have it. We will have a big shock one day if we don't wake up.

    In general the Air Force is way to small!
    We either win or lose as a nation, so it is impossible for one service to win and the other to lose.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    We either win or lose as a nation, so it is impossible for one service to win and the other to lose.
    In absolute terms yes. But in this case if control of the air is lost by our air forces everybody else will be defeated in turn but their defeat will result from the air forces losing. And our air forces are all betting on one airplane design and one engine type. That bet isn't looking so good.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    In absolute terms yes. But in this case if control of the air is lost by our air forces everybody else will be defeated in turn but their defeat will result from the air forces losing. And our air forces are all betting on one airplane design and one engine type. That bet isn't looking so good.
    Carl,

    If you take a conventional view of war, the way the U.S. prefers to fight, then a more accurate way to put it is we can't win with acceptable casualty levels. Of course that is speculation, there are a lot factors that will influence our national will to endure or fail to endure high casualties.

    North Vietnam defeated us even though we owned the air (we greatly over estimated the effect of air power on a nation's will, just as Germany did, and just as we did when we started our strategic bombing of Germany). The Taliban continues to challenge us in the land domain with no air power whatsoever.

    Air superiority is no guarantee that we'll win or lose, but failure to maintain it will certainly result in a need for new doctrine and approaches to warfare. Based on your comment that we can't assume we'll always have it, maybe we should be working on that doctrine now? We have no idea what disruptive technology will emerge in the future, to include technology that could greatly reduce the effectiveness of our air power. On a smaller scale we saw the impact that Stingers had on the USSR in Afghanistan.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bill:

    I am not talking about small wars. I am talking about big ones, or even medium ones like Korea. We could tolerate a level of casualties comparable to that suffered by Paraguay in 1864-1870 and without control of the air such that guys like you didn't have airplanes like A-10s on your back ALL THE TIME and that our cargo airplanes could fly, we could not win. Imagine fighting a war across the sea with no C-17s, C-130s nor C-5s. I can't because we couldn't. A fight in the western Pacific means controlling the sea, and you can't control the sea without controlling the air. It can't be done. So it isn't a matter of gritting our teeth and accepting more spilled blood, it is a matter of losing because our losing control of the air means they won it and if they have it we're finished.
    Last edited by carl; 08-07-2014 at 03:25 AM.
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    Carl, I also mentioned WWII, not a small war in anyone's book. Your point is understood, but I still think we would find alternatives if we lost air superiority assuming it was a critical national interest to win the war.

    You can laugh now, but we have no ideas what technologies will be decisive in the future. Submarines, cyber, space capabilities, dominating the human domain through various means, UAV swarms, long range missiles, etc. I'm not willing to propose rolling over #### up and quit because we lose air superiority. The Brits didn't roll over and quit when the Germans had superiority, nor the Germans roll over and quit when we had it. Assuming one side has air superiority they still have to use that superiority in a way that contributes to a decisive victory, and despite the claims my Warden and others that the Air Force can win by themselves, history suggests otherwise.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bill:

    WWII is a good example of loss of control of the air=loss of the war.

    The Germans never had control of the air over Britain. Never. They were always contested. There was a brief time where they were able to operate at night relatively unhindered. That didn't last long and eventually they could not operate at all over Britain unless on veritable suicide runs.

    The Germans indeed didn't roll over and quit. They fought on until they were totally defeated. The Japanese had the good sense to surrender before their country was invaded.

    No we won't roll over and quit because control of the air is lost. We will fight on hoping for a miracle, because that is what it will take.

    Our basic disagreement is this. I believe we cannot win without control of the air, especially in a theatre that is mostly ocean like the western Pacific. You believe we can. I think history is on my side quite definitively. We have never ever won a war in the air age without controlling the air. Never. And since all of our experience, practice and plans depend on control of the air, I don't see us learning to do without on the fly. Now that presupposes we are going to do our major fighting over on the other side of the oceans. If they (whoever they are) manage to invade North America, then yeah, maybe we can find a way. But short of that, if we don't control the air, by whatever means, we lose.

    Now maybe in the future we will develop new ways to do things like militarizing flying red ants, but for the moment we have to depend on things like fighters and fighter bombers. Machines. And those machines are now F-35s, which don't work. We are in trouble.
    Last edited by carl; 08-07-2014 at 05:06 AM.
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