The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996–2017 | RAND

RAND Corporation

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According to US think-tank, RAND, although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, China has improved its capabilities relative to those of the U.S. in many critical areas. Most critically, RAND concludes, China does not need to catch up fully in order to challenge U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.

Source: The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996–2017 | RAND

If you have a few hours to spare, it’s well worth reading the free of charge the full e-book in PDF format. It’s a fascinating read.

Whilst I found the study fascinating, especially the scoreboards, I worry about the implications of this study.

I am concerned about the absence of assumptions and risk analysis. In essence, this is a theoretical study designed to give American planners comfort and to warn their opposite numbers in China that America still has the military edge. BUT China has far greater effective military power near to China’s mainland.

Most critically, America has a lengthy and vulnerable logistics chain, which in practice would elimate much of her theoretical advantage.

Another important area for analysis is decision-making in the respective countries. When necessary the Chinese government has been bold and decisive. Whereas, America has a huge practical disadvantage with a dithering leader like Obama. Obama has consistently saught political capital by putting America military genie back in the bottle – the results have been catasprophic for US foreign policy interventions.

Thoughts?

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