Taiwan Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


Gatekeeper

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Well, that's just the bitter (for you) truth.

It's somewhat amusing to me the efforts members here go to try and craft strategies for an utterly lost position. The only strategy Taiwanese soldiers have is to tie their undershirts to sticks and wave them.

This is the thing. Taiwan, sorry. I shouldn't give it the pleasure to acknowledge that there is such a country. I shall call it it's official title. Republic of China (ROC). They really are a worse place, and it'll get worse daily.

No country, with the exception if US, is willing to stick it's neck out (like before) to upset their relationship with their official China with whom they have fruitful and profitable relationship with. And with each passing day, their options are getting more limited. The only play they have left is acquired military assets that only delay China's advances enough for the US to come to their aids.

Which is probably why they done for these "expendive" subs. But even this strategic choice will close off to them one day.
 

silentlurker

Junior Member
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If I were the ROC, I would try to fund much of my efforts into areas where the PLA is not actively focused on -- i.e.: basically it just leaves urban/irregular ground warfare.

Didn't the MoD have a report a while back which basically concluded that once PLAGF started landing troops on the island the war would be over? Unless they plan on going full Afghanistan 1997 it seems questionable as to how investing in ground forces will pay off.
 

weig2000

Senior Member
OTOH, the PLA is not actively spending massive amounts of funding into urban/irregular warfare on the ground combat and the requisite ground and air-ground support systems for such battles efficient, so that would make a prime area for the ROC to try and exploit.
... The problem is such a strategy basically concedes or accepts an eventuality that the PLA will establish a beachhead and land boots on the ground, and unless the ROC military leadership and political leadership are willing for the populace to be willing to actively fight and suffer for the cause, and be seriously willing for Taiwan's major cities to experience the likes of Grozny or Fallujah, such a strategy would obviously never be accepted.

Indeed, this strategy (urban/irregular warfare) is what I have been saying in different places and to Taiwanese friends in the last few years. It's the one that makes most sense from a military standpoint given the trend in the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait.

The current strategy of buying/building large and expensive weapon platforms such as F-16V and submarines is a huge waste of resources. They're more political statements and PR to show the internal and external world they're going to put up a fight. Transitioning to a urban/irregular warfare will be considered a defeatist strategy. There will also be strong resistance to such a strategy from military tradition and institutions.

I absolutely agree that the PLAN's ASW capabilities may improve significantly in a short period. However, if Taiwan only invests in things that China "can't" counter, we'll inevitably get back towards the old position of "Taiwan hasn't a hope, it should just give up".

...

In short, whilst I appreciate your views are genuine, it is possible to criticise Taiwan's military strategy whatever it is. Much of deterrence isn't warning your enemy that you'll be able to defeat them but give them a nasty wound so they're less likely to attack on a pretext or whim.

An urban/irregular warfare strategy is a form of strong determination to show your enemy that we may be defeated ultimately but we will incur severe damage to you, in the hope that it will deter the enemy from an invasion after weighing the cost and benefit of it. The current strategy of fighting a high-end war essentially signals that we will put up a fight, which may not last long, and then we will quickly fold.

The challenge with an urban/irregular warfare is that you need strong ground forces and sheer will of the troops and civilian population to demonstrate to your enemy. Taiwan is a modern, wealthy society. It is ill-prepared for such a strategy and it is difficult to imagine that Taiwan can make the transition.

Here is an
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with a Taiwan journalist who has served in the military on why Taiwan's military, particularly the ground force, is in such a bad shape to fight a PLA invasion. It's from the weekly ChinaTalk podcast.

Tanner Greer, a staunch anti-CCP/anti-China American conservative and author well versed in Chinese and China affairs, gave his thoughts on why he changed his stance from "
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" just two years ago to "
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" after spending nine months in Taiwan in 2019 and talking to various military people in Taiwan.
 

Gloire_bb

Junior Member
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Smaller submarines have pretty much all the same advantages, and losing one isn't as bad as losing a larger submarine.
They want 8, that's a pretty sizeable fleet.
Didn't the MoD have a report a while back which basically concluded that once PLAGF started landing troops on the island the war would be over? Unless they plan on going full Afghanistan 1997 it seems questionable as to how investing in ground forces will pay off.
Well-fortified Island with very defensible terrain, located beyond the range of most cross-straight fires, with ~160k active personnel and 10 times that in reserve.
Until and unless some disastrous moral collapse is going to happen, that's one hell of a task, even for a superpower.
 
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Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
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Well, that's just the bitter (for you) truth.

It's somewhat amusing to me the efforts members here go to try and craft strategies for an utterly lost position. The only strategy Taiwanese soldiers have is to tie their undershirts to sticks and wave them.

This is still a military forum and there's no reason there can't be discussion which isn't constructive and realistic at the same time. Either way, let's try to show good etiquette and have discussions in good faith where possible...
 

Bltizo

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I absolutely agree that the PLAN's ASW capabilities may improve significantly in a short period. However, if Taiwan only invests in things that China "can't" counter, we'll inevitably get back towards the old position of "Taiwan hasn't a hope, it should just give up".

Air force? The PLAAF will always have more planes, and in some cases better ones, plus its SAMs can blow up Taiwanese planes in its own airspace. UAVs? China is building lots of things to deal with them. Navy? The PLAN is much bigger. Mobile AShMs? They'll be sitting ducks for the PLAAF. Mobile SAMs? Taiwan will never be able to field enough, China will just build more missiles. Mining the beaches and coastal waters? China can just remove them at leisure once Taiwan's military is crippled from afar. Lots of coastal patrol submarines? They'll need to get close to PLAN ships and be vulnerable, or China can just blockade the island.

In short, whilst I appreciate your views are genuine, it is possible to criticise Taiwan's military strategy whatever it is. Much of deterrence isn't warning your enemy that you'll be able to defeat them but give them a nasty wound so they're less likely to attack on a pretext or whim.

In that post I did acknowledge there is a reason for why the ROC military is procuring the systems they are, and for the general populace and for the military and political leadership obviously it would be disastrous for morale and careers to suggest the idea that the ROC should simply not compete with the PLA in air or naval domains -- that said I wasn't exactly saying the ROCN or ROCAF should forgo competition for the sea or the air, but rather that more cost effective platforms might be appropriate (e.g.: for submarines, a larger number of individually smaller submarines rather than a fleet of eight IDS SSKs).

I also suspect there's probably an element of "hope" that the ROC leadership might "hope" that if they play their cards right with their SSKs and fighter fleet and other big ticket items and if the qualitative capabilities of the PLA's platforms and training pilots and crews etc are suboptimal that they can still win a war of the air and the sea to the extent that the PLA might be unable to achieve air superiority and sea control around the island. In that sense, going for a fleet of eight SSKs is a bit more reasonable but still quite a significant gamble.


Developing weapons systems to try and complicate an enemy's strategy is not unreasonable and on paper it seems very rational, but the Taiwan contingency is arguably the contingency that the PLA has always been focused on the most, with the most political weight and resources funnelled towards it and the potential sequelae of it (potential for outside intervention either from other nations in the region or the US, and the requisite chain of escalation that might cause including and up to potential nuclear exchange). In fact I would argue the Taiwan contingency and the goal of dissuading outside forces from intervening in a Taiwan contingency (and the ability to fight them off if necessary) has been the driving factor for China's overall geopolitical stance and much of the urgency regarding China's geopolitical strategy over the last couple of decades as well as of course the urgency and extent of the PLA's modernization in virtually every domain but especially air, naval, missile and space --- but also nuclear.

I suppose what I'm saying is that if the goal is to try to deter the PLA from attacking "on a whim" -- well I don't think that needs to be much of a worry in the immediate future because I imagine the PLA treats any potential Taiwan contingency as a situation where the entire military and nation needs to be readied for a major pacific conflict with the US up to and potentially including the threat of nuclear exchange.
That is the kind of conflict the PLA is building itself to be able to face.
Again, I understand why the ROC is building 8 new SSKs and wanting to buy new F-16Vs and M1A2Ts etc. But in the overall strategic context, I think one would be hard pressed to acknowledge it as the best use of opportunity-cost from a purely military point of view, unless one factors in the political/PR/morale factors, which of course in the real world are indeed important driving factors.
 

Bltizo

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They want 8, that's a pretty sizeable fleet.

It's not "small" but compared to the amount of ASW assets the PLAN will have stacked in the theater circa 2025 onwards, it's not exactly large either.


Well-fortified Island with very defensible terrain, located beyond the range of most cross-straight fires, with ~160k active personnel and 10 times that in reserve.
Until and unless some disastrous moral collapse is going to happen, that's one hell of a task, even for a superpower.

Leaving aside the matter of personnel, the sheer variety of SRBMs, long range MLRS, air launched SOMs, and ALCMs and even conventionally tipped IRBMs if they're feeling very zesty, is... quite a large number of cross strait fires.
Of course, the PLA's massive array of airborne manned AEW&C/ISR/ELINT/SIGINT platforms, and UAVs, and space based ISR, means there's going to be quite significant difficulty of moving large mechanized formations around the island given the road networks (specifically the western side) without exposure. So unless the personnel are willing to operate in much smaller, dispersed units lacking substantial heavy support (and thus itself being susceptible to combined arms battalions and brigades that land with support from the aforementioned long range cross strait fires), the number of personnel itself are not indicative of capability one would think it is on paper.

The ability to adequately coordinate, move, support/supply those personnel is as important as their number, and ROC C2 nodes, logistics centers, ground formations, and sensors/recce systems will all be high priority targets alongside air bases, naval ports, and IADS radars.

Indeed, this strategy (urban/irregular warfare) is what I have been saying in different places and to Taiwanese friends in the last few years. It's the one that makes most sense from a military standpoint given the trend in the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait.

The current strategy of buying/building large and expensive weapon platforms such as F-16V and submarines is a huge waste of resources. They're more political statements and PR to show the internal and external world they're going to put up a fight. Transitioning to a urban/irregular warfare will be considered a defeatist strategy. There will also be strong resistance to such a strategy from military tradition and institutions.

Everyone's strategy is informed by politics/PR/morale considerations, so to that extent I do appreciate the situation they're in.
And submarines, even against capable foes with capable ASW have shown to be able to incur disproportionate costs or tie up resources in a conflict if the enemy happens to get unlucky.

But given the trends of PLAN modernization and given past trends of PLA modernization, one can't help but wonder if procuring these 8 SSKs will end up going the way of the ROCAF's strategy of seeking to pursue a fighter fleet that is "qualitatively superior" against the PLAAF in the 90s and early 2000s. The idea of competing for air superiority/air denial or sea control/sea denial is an attractive one, at the end of the day, because a successful strategy means your own land, cities, and civilian population and ground troops don't need to bear the burden of facing the enemy.

It's more a strategy of hope that the PLA messes up and isn't able to properly prosecute their military modernization goals, and I suppose in a "prisoner's dilemma" of choosing to forgo trying to "conventional" capabilities to compete for the air and sea, the leadership probably also believes opting to not compete at all is a higher risk than competing.
I can't see this changing for a while until the PLA's air force, navy and missile systems are so qualitatively generationally superior and quantitatively so much larger, that the cheese is smelled.
(E.g.: by the time that the PLAAF has more stealth fighters than the entire ROCAF has aircraft in general, or the PLAN having an even much bigger disparity in ASW, like 60 AIP SSKs, 60-80 MPAs, etc)

But until then, I think there is still room for avoiding the aroma, and in some halls of power it might still be seen as a viable strategy.



.... on another note, the current relative lack of emphasis PLA fixed wing CAS capability (direct attack PGMs especially), is something which the ROC military can probably try to exploit through more effective ground warfare. The PLA hasn't paid much attention to this because the PLA likely recognizes CAS/PGM interdiction requires air superiority first and the PLA is more focused on achieving air superiority against more capable foes than the ROCAF.
But I wouldn't be surprised if in coming years the PLA starts to have some money put aside to actually implement a fixed wing CAS capability... which will really begin to seal the last domains for effective asymmetric warfare that the ROC military has unless significant advances in other domains of technology emerge.
 
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Mr T

Senior Member
Again, I understand why the ROC is building 8 new SSKs and wanting to buy new F-16Vs and M1A2Ts etc. But in the overall strategic context, I think one would be hard pressed to acknowledge it as the best use of opportunity-cost from a purely military point of view, unless one factors in the political/PR/morale factors, which of course in the real world are indeed important driving factors.

Just to change the subject slightly, if you had the ear of President Tsai, what would you advise her to be spending more money on when it comes to weapons procurement, both US and domestic - taking into account that Taiwan needs to think of ways to try to deal with a blockade and not just a full out attack. I understand there might be more DSCA notifications next year, whether before Trump leaves office or after Biden is sworn in (assuming he doesn't block them). Would be interesting to see if any of that is what you think Taiwan should go for.
 

Bltizo

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Just to change the subject slightly, if you had the ear of President Tsai, what would you advise her to be spending more money on when it comes to weapons procurement, both US and domestic? I understand there might be more DSCA notifications next year, whether before Trump leaves office or after Biden is sworn in (assuming he doesn't block them). Would be interesting to see if any of that is what you think Taiwan should go for.

Basically everything that Skywatcher mentioned in #3778 as well as procuring a larger number of smaller (under 1000 ton) SSKs instead of a smaller number (eight) of the current SSKs.
The road mobile harpoons are in the right direction as well.

But it's also about opportunity cost, and much of the procurement has already been either funded for or is too far along to cancel (F-16Vs, M1A2Ts, SSKs), so the range of changing things is limited now.
One thing I would certainly advise against is pursuing their new destroyers and frigates the ROCN has been publicly thinking about... but who knows.
 

Gloire_bb

Junior Member
Registered Member
It's not "small" but compared to the amount of ASW assets the PLAN will have stacked in the theater circa 2025 onwards, it's not exactly large either.
Submarines, as instruments of guerre de course, are an asymmetric counter. They're specifically bought to remain relevant even when a direct counter is impossible/counterproductive(wasted resources).

Larger numbers of ASW forces won't deny submarine force its ability to produce impact. Because in the end, it's up to the submarine commander(and command) to decide where to engage, how to engage, and wherever to engage at all.

Until and unless ASW force can proactively hunt down submarines(and this isn't something current PLAN and PLANAF is aimed at, at least not "behind the corner" of Taiwan island itself) - they're going to matter anyway. In some cases, they can matter even after a conclusive military defeat(ww2 cases).

the sheer variety of SRBMs, long range MLRS, air launched SOMs, and ALCMs and even conventionally tipped IRBMs if they're feeling very zesty, is... quite a large number of cross strait fires.
This impressive list won't keep MG nest on an unknown hill(bamboo grove, slit in a cliff, you name it) suppressed. Even drones in Karabakh were doing an impressive, but different job.
I.e. until and unless there are beachheads of sufficient depth, and even assuming all these fires can be freely used at Taiwan w/o reserve - with all those capabilities, the attacker is still going to be at a massive disadvantage.

This isn't about China specifically, other than China and US, no other country is capable of doing this anyway.
This is about strategic landings against prepared position being difficult, no matter whom we're talking about.
 

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