Can a joint US-Japanese maritime force repel a Chinese assault on Taiwan?



The United States Marine Corps is sending a clear message that its force is ready to fight on the oceans and islands alongside allied Japanese forces in the event of a Chinese attack, according to a recently released service video.

The video explains that a recently completed six-month deployment of U.S. and Japanese Marines was not a training exercise but rather a determined effort to replicate and rehearse real-world combat scenarios that forces would likely encounter in island areas near. from Japan and Taiwan.

While the video was clear to not suggest offensive operations or impending attacks per se, the emphasis was clearly on the ongoing operations with the US and Japanese Marines ready to fight now. The unit deployment program was specifically described as not being a formation but rather a true rehearsal of what maritime warfare would entail in the multi-domain area of ​​the southern islands of Japan.

Given its proximity to Taiwan, it seems clear that this area would be essential to any kind of US-Japanese defense against a Chinese amphibious invasion aimed at annexing Taiwan. According to Global Firepower, Japan can muster up to a million troops and Marines if needed for immediate combat, and part of the southern Japanese island chains are about 500 miles from Taiwan, according to the point of view. lift-off. This means that a lethal US-Japanese amphibious force could prove to be very effective in any type of maritime warfare engagement near Taiwan. This would be especially true if amphibious naval assets such as amphibious assault ships or armed Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft carriers were close enough to strike. Even some fixed-wing aircraft could take off from Japan or its southern islands to attack the approaching Chinese amphibious forces, especially if they are supported by aerial refuellers.

Could this force get there fast enough without being pre-positioned on the island of Taiwan, given that Taiwan is 100 miles from the Chinese coast? This is possible, as any type of large-scale amphibious attack led by China would require some preparation, which could be detected by the US-Japanese defenses. If air superiority was established with F-35s – a scenario that seems quite likely if enough fifth-generation American and Japanese assets were within range – then cargo planes could quickly send troops, Marines, and weapons to Taiwan. .

This dynamic could be the reason the Corps continues to ramp up its new Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) configured to support “island-hopping” amphibious warfare scenarios in the Pacific. The new ship could not only help access coastal island areas, but also deliver large weapons, equipment and Marines to otherwise hard-to-reach areas such as the South China Sea or the Japanese islands. These high-risk areas would likely be more difficult to approach for deeper draft vessels such as amphibious assault ships, but there would clearly be a need to establish and strengthen dangerous combat operations there. This is where an LAW would come in. It could take over ship-to-shore landing craft dispatched from a “mother” amphibious assault ship from greater safety distances, deliver weapons. essential land such as mobile artillery or even some armored vehicles.

The speed of response, afforded by proximity and multi-domain connectivity in areas near Taiwan and the South China Sea, would likely prove decisive in any confrontation with aggressive Chinese forces.

Kris Osborn is the editor of Defense for the National Interest. Osborn previously served in the Pentagon as a highly trained expert in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air presenter and military specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a visiting military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Wikimedia Commons



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