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Red Letters #6
The Red Letters series is an ongoing short form Q&A. You can find the previous edition here.
What is next for the PRC after a hot/cold war over Taiwan where they emerge victorious?
Post Taiwan, the CCP would likely consolidate its position as the most powerful military across the First Island Chain and then attempt to subordinate South Korea and Japan through unequal treaties and diplomacy (not force of arms).
How do I create realistic TDGs for my unit?
Use this template:
Pick a place within the First Island Chain: SCS islands, Taiwan, Penghu Islands, Ishigaki, etc.
Pick a main force structure matchup (HACAB vs IBCT, MLR vs PLANMC B, MAR RGT vs PLAAFAC) making sure red has 25-200% more manpower.
Add a multi-domain effect or two for both red and blue. This can be a separate card so the players can remember. Red’s can be DF strikes, EW jamming, PLAN strikes, etc. Blue’s can be bomber POP, patriot AD, F-22 CAP, etc.
Determine if both sides are already on the ground fighting or if one side is conducting a joint forcible entry/ transit through the area.
Play the TDG.
We may make a TDG pack in the future.
How good are Chinese tanks when it comes to armor and capabilities?
The latest ZTZ-99A baseline is pretty decent. Solidly 3rd generation, fully digitized, hard and soft kill APS, full range of rounds. The 99A can beat anything Vietnam, Mongolia, Burma, or Taiwan (for now) could throw at it. Through numbers it could theoretically crush India or Russia’s armor. With that said, it would likely struggle contending with Japanese or Korean armor. In comparison to the US, US crews would likely take casualties, but the Abrams is almost certainly higher quality throughout, especially with composite armor, optics, and training. It also seems like the 99A is not close to the Abrams X demonstrator.
Interestingly enough, it looks like the US and PRC have diverging modernization priorities. The PRC is focused on upgunning while the US is looking at next gen tech focused on chemical and electrical tech currently not fielded. Also, the the US has decided to abandon M1A2SEPv4 in favor of a bigger technological jump to the M1E3, most likely in response to Ukraine lessons learned.
Will the US have to invade the Chinese mainland to win a war against the CCP?
This is a great question and not enough scholarly work has been done on this yet. Where we left it off during the Cold War was basically-"nations armed with nuclear weapons will contemplate using them when their regime is at risk or when they may lose their capital." But will they? The Germans could have used a wide range of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons to try stopping the Russians invading their territory. But they didn't, likely because they didn't want the same treatment. If nations will use nuclear weapons to defend themselves, is that really just outside the capital? Is it when pre-war boundaries are violated? In-between somewhere? It doesn’t seem like there is an updated intellectual framework or strategic body of thought that addresses these questions surrounding unconditional surrender.
Why does the PRC build carriers?
Around RAND offices in the 90s, the joke was that if the US could convince China to expend resources into aircraft carriers, they'd be easy for the US to strike and would lead to quick US victory. For many reasons, the joke isn't so funny anymore. The US builds carriers because 95% of the time, there's an ocean between CONUS and the area of operations. Not so much for PRC.
There are at least 3 possibilities:
The CCP thinks carriers are critical to a struggle within the first island chain.
The CCP has long term ambitions of being a global superpower like the US, and will thus need carriers within a couple decades.
The CCP is unsure what weapons work in modern warfare, but the US has carriers so they'll build carriers.
What would the PRC’s home front preparation look like, ie: scale of mobilization?
If the CCP decided to conduct covert mobilization it would be harder to identify and occur during a shorter period. Open mobilization includes: govt control of the means of transportation, stop loss order of conscripts, higher conscription numbers, economic hardening, ensuring domestic social stability, higher training tempo, conducting a large national-scale exercise, concentrating troops with their combat load, national blood drive, higher ISR activity, higher lADS activity, nuclear exercises, etc.
These things are basically impossible to hide, but Beijing will attempt to do so anyway.