PLA strike strategies in westpac HIC (first wave, sustained, other)


ZeEa5KPul

Captain
Registered Member
I understand where your argument comes from.
However I believe "Success/Failure" and "Acceptable Damage/Unacceptable Damage" are both the same thing, respectively.
Putting it another way, it's not a 2x2 grid with four possible outcomes.
It's a 1x2 grid with only two possible outcomes.

PLA success
(one consequence of which is that damage is at acceptable levels)
China doesn't use nukes
PLA failure
(one consequence of which is that damage is at unacceptable levels)
Possible or likely use of China using nukes/nuclear armageddon in general
I think our positions are closer than they appear. We just differ on where we draw the line at acceptable vs unacceptable damage - you might put it at 90% of pre-war industrial capacity destroyed, while I might put it at 30%. You've also convinced me that US military capabilities near China will have to be near totally degraded before tactical nuclear weapons on the US homeland can be employed so the US enjoys no asymmetric advantage in retaliating.
Getting back on your feet to fight again does that, even if it takes many generations.
Hard no on that one, buddy. This isn't some cosmic tale where China falls down and picks itself up over generations only to fall down again ad infinitum. The sorry story of the Century of Humiliation is not going to repeat itself. If China falls again, that's a wrap on humanity.
If tomorrow, for instance, the US were to violate all of China's red lines and Taiwan were to declare abject independence - that would be a failure of Chinese deterrence.
Whether or not that deterrence fails masks a far more interesting question: Why does the US accept that Taiwan is a Chinese red line that it's willing to go to nuclear war over? After all, it's just an island. Is the PRC willing to destroy the world - itself included - over one island?

The answer is that where red lines are drawn and deterrence is established is completely arbitrary. The US is deterred from violating China's red lines on Taiwan because China drilled that message into its head. It's the same with my concept of nuclear retaliation - you're undeterred because it's a novel concept, but give it some years and China will drill that new message into your head until you accept it.
Similarly, if the nuclear capabilities of the PLA are clearly and definitively given conditions that would result in their use - the goal of doing so is to prevent the US from doing those things.
You dismiss "values" and national character as something outside rational strategic analysis when you really shouldn't. Your analysis is shot through with American idiosyncrasies that I'm sure you view as completely neutral. Among them is this very specific desire for "rules of the road" and "guard rails"; you want Chinese nuclear doctrine to be a series of if/then statements - if America does x, China responds with y. I'm sorry, it's not a computer program. It just doesn't work that way, what you'll get is what the Chinese general told his American counterpart after he tried to press for a list of if/thens: Try it and find out.
Where you seem to get off to a strange start is that you don't differentiate between deterrence and punishment.
No, I differentiate perfectly well between deterrence and punishment. I also understand that deterrence and punishment work in mutually reinforcing cycles - if one layer of deterrence fails, then the punishment deters the next level of misbehaviour. For example, although the US failed to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, its punishment and the promise of more still successfully deters Russia from employing nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Deterrence is not a binary state, it's a process.

Furthermore, although you might not find a place for it in "rational analysis", revenge and punishment are a core part of human psychology. Ultimately, countries are collections of human beings.
The key difference here is that you should never want to have to use your deterrent.
A deterrent that can't be used is no deterrent at all. Your argument would have merit if I advocated strategic nuclear strikes on US soil in response to attacks on Chinese industrial infrastructure. I don't.
Something as small in scale as a shipyard, a factory, or a port when compared to the existence of the People's Republic of China simply are not on anywhere near the same magnitude of importance.
The same applies to the US. Should the first level of deterrence fail and China strikes a shipyard, a factory, or a port with a tactical nuke, what is further retaliation worth when compared to the existence of the United States of America. I don't buy your sales pitch that America is full of Rapture-ready lunatics who'll start a terminal nuclear war because a shipyard, a factory, or a port on *gasp* American soil got destroyed. They'll take a deep breath, realize that China's got plenty more where that came from, and chew on their resentment. Calibrated punishment will successfully establish the next layer of deterrence.

If I'm wrong and Americans are that crazy, then I'm willing to pay the price of being wrong.

Frankly speaking, you and your colleagues have an important role to play here. The American people are deluded about the balance of military power between China and America today, let alone what it will be post 2035. You should disabuse your countrymen of their halo of invulnerability.
Yes, I am fully aware of this. Americans are fully aware of this. This is not news.
No, not at all, see above.
My point is that employing nuclear weapons is basically the capstone to what ought to be a series of escalations culminating in there being existential threat to the state, if their use is to be justified.
These are the rules that America developed for itself during its cold war with the Soviet Union. That has absolutely nothing to do with the present contest; here it's tabula rasa. New rules.
 

ougoah

Brigadier
Registered Member
I think there's a higher chance of the US turning to nuclear war if the US is to lose a conventional war to the point of its economic and hegemonic redemption is untenable by the remaining military industry and conventional forces, than it would be for China to turn to nuclear war if China is to lose a conventional war to a similar degree.

This isn't just losing factories and military resources but a devastation of its military to the point it cannot support its prior state and accumulated power.

Why? personal speculation based on cultural tendencies. Chinese generally are indoctrinated to think and behave patiently and for the long term goals. Stumbling with conventional defeat is not justification to end everything. American and western cultures and people are generally all out all in types. Hyper aggressive and assertiveness is more then norm than the exception. Even with individuals. Of course evidence to the contrary exist like with everything but if we're so careless as to generalise with this, then come on... the underdog taking a decades long stumble and pushing the red button or the privileged class out of touch after centuries of dominance (slowly ending in the last 50 years), much too fine and precious to deal with struggles and certainly not happy to accept defeat and a climb down?

This is quite removed from the mechanisms of escalation to nuclear exchange though. We're ignoring the fact that it would be impossible to tell or ascertain truth from intentions of the other party. Nuclear escalation could be triggered by myriad factors and forces not simply conventional defeat on devastating scale. Light or mild losses aren't enough to even consider nuclear exchange except for the US since China can deal with light or mildly heavy losses and not be in a significantly altered position.

The US taking even insignificant but noteworthy conventional losses if China were not to would show its relative inabilities and only enhance that cycle of decline while boosting China's even if the diplomatic and political dialogue around the world be full of various copiums and the usual narrative spin or downright condemnation without pause for understanding and taking in all the nuance i.e. this is at the very least something the US is doing to itself.

It would be the US that could not stand to live in such a world and potentially (however remote) trigger what they might believe to be a winnable escalation. It all depends on which people are in charge and the pressures they have on their shoulders. And of course many other factors ... old men convinced of virgin blessed afterlife (or whatever personal belief) may be more willing to push the red button for example. Especially if they feel they are righteous in their own mind. China as bad and insane or unstable as it could be is simply FAR from this.
 

Abominable

Senior Member
Registered Member
The interesting point is Taiwan. America thinks it can use Taiwan against China as the matador uses a red rag to a bull. Look at their actions over the past few weeks, do you think it is a coincidence? America wants Chinese attention away from the Ukraine.

Focusing on Taiwan is one dimensional and again is playing a game where America has written the rules. The response should be more unpredictable with the aim of destabilising American allies in the regions. You send a ship through the strait? They came from Japan, so look what pops up in Japanese waters. You've sold more fighter jets to Taiwan. Guess what, North Korea gets a squadron of J-10s. Taiwan threatens to declare independence, the Solomon Islands gets free wind farms. Think smart, Taiwan is the prize not the battleground.

Make America's activities as toxic as possible for all of America's allies that enable it. America today is at the stage the Soviet Union was in the 1980s, except worse. Just make them overextend themselves and the regime will collapse.
 

Mohsin77

Senior Member
Registered Member
Hard no on that one, buddy. This isn't some cosmic tale where China falls down and picks itself up over generations only to fall down again ad infinitum. The sorry story of the Century of Humiliation is not going to repeat itself. If China falls again, that's a wrap on humanity.

sigh...

Just be aware that you are issuing that statement on behalf of all those Chinese generations whose future you'd be erasing. You'd be deleting their agency, and their option to struggle and win, based on your own present assumptions.

That is some dark stuff man... 'i have become death, the destroyer of worlds' level shit... I don't even know how to think like this... For me and my civilization, the past-present-future are all a continuum inside a "cosmic tale" with the future taking precedence.

So I'm just gonna punch out from this discussion at this point.

"Eject Goose! Eject Eject!!"
Top Gun Eject! Eject! on Make a GIF
 

gelgoog

Colonel
Registered Member
No, I differentiate perfectly well between deterrence and punishment. I also understand that deterrence and punishment work in mutually reinforcing cycles - if one layer of deterrence fails, then the punishment deters the next level of misbehaviour. For example, although the US failed to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, its punishment and the promise of more still successfully deters Russia from employing nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
No. What deters Russia from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine is that they would get radioactive fallout back in Russia. It would also go against the originally stated mission goal of their commander in chief of trying to reduce civilian casualties. It has nothing to do with the US.

There is also no need for Russia to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The whole thing is a red herring by the US. Russia's strategic bomber force could flatten all of Ukraine's cities with conventional weapons alone if they wanted to. Russia has a strategic bomber force as large as the US. For example they have sixty Tu-22M3 bombers in service. Each can carry a similar payload to the B-1. The internal weapons bay on the Tu-22M3 can carry 24,000 kg of bombs. For comparison a typical B-29 in WW2 on long range bombing missions against Japan would carry 2,300 kg. Double that on a medium altitude mission. So each bomber is like 10x more capable in delivering mass to the opponent.

Add to that the short distance to bases in Russia, and faster aircraft speeds than on a piston engine plane, and you can begin to imagine what would happen if Russia wanted to destroy Ukraine for real.
 
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tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
How so? Both the Improved LA and Virginia Blocks I-IV have very similar dimensions to the 09-III. We might argue single vs. double hulled, but we don't know if the improvements in the 09-IIIB include shortening the distance between the inner and outer hulls, or even transitioning to a single hull.

Furthermore, we "know" (as far as we can know such things) that variants of the Type 09-IIIA reached Improved LA levels of noise (a specific value I heard mentioned is 110db at 10 yards). I expect the new class to significantly improve on this given the time it's spent in development and the technological advancements China has achieved in the interim.

The proof of the pudding will be in how many of this new type China builds. If it's a significant number, we can deduce that China has finally fielded a competitive SSN (like it fielded a competitive DDG in the 052D). If it's another one-off experiment, we can conclude that more needs to be done, or that China has concluded that the 09-III form is just irredeemably flawed and place our hopes on the 09-V.
They won't build many. 095 is where the hope is.
Shilao podcast also came to same conclusion
China was once nowhere in shipbuilding - I still remember debates where people claimed China would just churn out Type 22 coastal boats like it was an oversized Iran - and then the Type 052D happened, followed by the 055. Things change. Just because China was behind in these platforms doesn't mean that will always be the case; China can change established facts very quickly.

You yourself were impressed by a nuclear reactor China developed for a barge. Have some faith in what it can do today and how far its industry has come.
It's not about faith. Strategic platforms just take longer time to develop.
Why wouldn't the US target CETC facilities and cripple China's ability to produce new radars and other military electronics? That is a grievous vulnerability.
Further inland is really much harder to succeed. The targets you need to worry about is along the coast. Also, china would have plenty of these things stocked up.
I don't know what equipment an advanced shipyard uses besides the obvious, but I know it's neither cheap nor easy to obtain else China would have a lot more of them.
What are you talking about. Please be specific? What's not cheap and why can't china produce them? China is the world's factory and the largest shipbuilder. Why would think it's incapable of producing shipbuilding machines?
If what you believe about Chinese SSNs and ASW in general is true, then US submarines will always be able to slip through the net even if the surface, land, and air forces are entirely wiped out by China.
If usn find it too dangerous to operate close to china, then it will not be able to win conventionally against china. If on the other hand, you launch tactical nukes against other countries, china will definitely get all of its major industries destroyed by retaliations. China's downside in such an exchange is so much more than us.
 

BoraTas

Junior Member
Registered Member
I think our positions are closer than they appear. We just differ on where we draw the line at acceptable vs unacceptable damage - you might put it at 90% of pre-war industrial capacity destroyed, while I might put it at 30%. You've also convinced me that US military capabilities near China will have to be near totally degraded before tactical nuclear weapons on the US homeland can be employed so the US enjoys no asymmetric advantage in retaliating.

Hard no on that one, buddy. This isn't some cosmic tale where China falls down and picks itself up over generations only to fall down again ad infinitum. The sorry story of the Century of Humiliation is not going to repeat itself. If China falls again, that's a wrap on humanity.

Whether or not that deterrence fails masks a far more interesting question: Why does the US accept that Taiwan is a Chinese red line that it's willing to go to nuclear war over? After all, it's just an island. Is the PRC willing to destroy the world - itself included - over one island?

The answer is that where red lines are drawn and deterrence is established is completely arbitrary. The US is deterred from violating China's red lines on Taiwan because China drilled that message into its head. It's the same with my concept of nuclear retaliation - you're undeterred because it's a novel concept, but give it some years and China will drill that new message into your head until you accept it.

You dismiss "values" and national character as something outside rational strategic analysis when you really shouldn't. Your analysis is shot through with American idiosyncrasies that I'm sure you view as completely neutral. Among them is this very specific desire for "rules of the road" and "guard rails"; you want Chinese nuclear doctrine to be a series of if/then statements - if America does x, China responds with y. I'm sorry, it's not a computer program. It just doesn't work that way, what you'll get is what the Chinese general told his American counterpart after he tried to press for a list of if/thens: Try it and find out.

No, I differentiate perfectly well between deterrence and punishment. I also understand that deterrence and punishment work in mutually reinforcing cycles - if one layer of deterrence fails, then the punishment deters the next level of misbehaviour. For example, although the US failed to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, its punishment and the promise of more still successfully deters Russia from employing nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Deterrence is not a binary state, it's a process.

Furthermore, although you might not find a place for it in "rational analysis", revenge and punishment are a core part of human psychology. Ultimately, countries are collections of human beings.

A deterrent that can't be used is no deterrent at all. Your argument would have merit if I advocated strategic nuclear strikes on US soil in response to attacks on Chinese industrial infrastructure. I don't.

The same applies to the US. Should the first level of deterrence fail and China strikes a shipyard, a factory, or a port with a tactical nuke, what is further retaliation worth when compared to the existence of the United States of America. I don't buy your sales pitch that America is full of Rapture-ready lunatics who'll start a terminal nuclear war because a shipyard, a factory, or a port on *gasp* American soil got destroyed. They'll take a deep breath, realize that China's got plenty more where that came from, and chew on their resentment. Calibrated punishment will successfully establish the next layer of deterrence.

If I'm wrong and Americans are that crazy, then I'm willing to pay the price of being wrong.

Frankly speaking, you and your colleagues have an important role to play here. The American people are deluded about the balance of military power between China and America today, let alone what it will be post 2035. You should disabuse your countrymen of their halo of invulnerability.

No, not at all, see above.

These are the rules that America developed for itself during its cold war with the Soviet Union. That has absolutely nothing to do with the present contest; here it's tabula rasa. New rules.
This willingness to fight a limited nuclear war is actually very close to the cold war mentality of the 1980s. In the 1980s a lot of people came to realize that none of the counterforce strategies they had devised during the previous 30 years were realistic at all and both sides were capable of exterminating the other side if they wanted. In this environment, the US and USSR started planning purely conventional wars and conventional wars with limited nuke use for the first time. The idea was mutually assured destruction would keep large exchanges in the bay. NATO was more interested in a limited nuclear war since the Soviet Union was much stronger than NATO in Europe. NATO bet on using nuclear weapons as equalizers. They also hoped that the threat of escalation will deter the Soviet Union.

China adopting a tactical nuclear warfare doctrine like the NATO of the 1980s actually make a lot of sense in this context. It drastically escalates possible consequences for the USA and, as importantly, its allies in the region. That's said China would need spend more on its nuclear arsenal as @Bltizo said. The US can employ short ranged munitions thanks to its allies in the region, which would provide a much better bang for the buck. Having re-usable vehicles, like aircraft, carrying shorter range munitions makes everything much cheaper.

An H-20 with 4 WS-15s instead of WS-10s and buddy tanking capability would solve much of this problem. But until we have a platform with similar range it would be better for China to build a strategic arsenal and focus on its conventional capabilities.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
I think our positions are closer than they appear. We just differ on where we draw the line at acceptable vs unacceptable damage - you might put it at 90% of pre-war industrial capacity destroyed, while I might put it at 30%. You've also convinced me that US military capabilities near China will have to be near totally degraded before tactical nuclear weapons on the US homeland can be employed so the US enjoys no asymmetric advantage in retaliating.

My overall point, is that trying to use the threat of tactical nuclear retaliation against US soil to deter US conventional strikes against Chinese soil, is not a threat that China can back up -- or that if China does back it up, it would simply result in a premature lose-lose situation due to strategic nuclear exchange.

As I said, I have no issues with a nation using nuclear weapons first during a conflict if it goes absolutely terribly for them and/or if a large scale conventional countervalue strike occurs like deliberately attacking a dam or something. But those would be decisions that would be made after a conflict reaches that threshold and is not a warning that could be viably made prior to or during the initial onset of hostilities.


Most importantly, for the purposes of discussion, it is far more constructive for us to do conflict projections and force requirements/procurement predictions in a manner which does not assume that the PLA is somehow magically able to deter the US from striking Chinese soil.
Continuously and repeatedly citing nukes as the card to play, every time a discussion about a westpac HIC, is becoming very tiring and sucks the oxygen away from other prospective discussions.

This willingness to fight a limited nuclear war is actually very close to the cold war mentality of the 1980s. In the 1980s a lot of people came to realize that none of the counterforce strategies they had devised during the previous 30 years were realistic at all and both sides were capable of exterminating the other side if they wanted. In this environment, the US and USSR started planning purely conventional wars and conventional wars with limited nuke use for the first time. The idea was mutually assured destruction would keep large exchanges in the bay. NATO was more interested in a limited nuclear war since the Soviet Union was much stronger than NATO in Europe. NATO bet on using nuclear weapons as equalizers. They also hoped that the threat of escalation will deter the Soviet Union.

China adopting a tactical nuclear warfare doctrine like the NATO of the 1980s actually make a lot of sense in this context. It drastically escalates possible consequences for the USA and, as importantly, its allies in the region. That's said China would need spend more on its nuclear arsenal as @Bltizo said. The US can employ short ranged munitions thanks to its allies in the region, which would provide a much better bang for the buck. Having re-usable vehicles, like aircraft, carrying shorter range munitions makes everything much cheaper.

As I've repeatedly mentioned, the willingness to fight a "limited nuclear war" is entirely dependent on geostrategic positioning.
It made sense for the US to push for tactical nuclear employment during the cold war against the USSR because the battlefield would be in Europe, close to USSR home soil and far away from US home soil.

In today's contest between the US and China, in a "limited nuclear war" the battlefield will be in the western pacific, close to Chinese home soil and far away from US home soil.
In other words, it does not make sense for China to adopt a tactical nuclear warfare doctrine like NATO, because China is actually the USSR in this case in terms of geostrategic positioning.


If anything, we are more likely to see the US push for using tactical nuclear warfare in its doctrine as its conventional advantage in the western pacific begins to shrink.
 
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FairAndUnbiased

Captain
Registered Member
Hitting mainlands with tactical warheads is both simultaneously too weak of an escalation and too strong of an escalation. It is like German V-2. Damaging enough to be annoying and cause anger, but not damaging enough to be decisive. That is the worst type of attack. It neither demoralizes psychologically nor punishes physically.

The only use that I see for tactical warheads is to hit fielded forces, bases, etc which at least reduces the probability that they can strike back and would actually have decisive effects. That would still be an escalation, but ironically, this would be an escalation that both had a weaker psychological effect and a stronger physical effect. But even that is unnecessary, because if you can hit a base with tactical weapons, you can hit it with conventional weapons at lower escalation risk.
 

gelgoog

Colonel
Registered Member
The problem is that in a major conflict like that using SRBMs or MRBMs with conventional warheads would not be cost effective.
Let alone ICBMs or the likes. I doubt China even has conventional warheads for ICBMs.

The V-2 was not effective because it had little accuracy and next to no destructive potential in relation to its cost.

You will have to take cost benefit into consideration when you use those missiles. So let us say you use the tactical nukes to hit US bases in the Pacific or carrier groups. I think that would be the most likely scenario.
 

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