The M1114 UPH is a FAILURE at $250,000 each. It cannot protect our troops when it has 4 doors, 4 windows and a windshield that are easily defeated by enemy RPGs, and firebombs and grenades thrown through these shoulder-high openings. Iraqi crowds can easily swarm around our troops in HMMWVs and they will have to fire into crowds to keep them away and not overwhelm their light SUV trucks and turn them over and set fire to them. Do they have enough bullets? What do they do when they run low or out? They cannot stay in HMMWVs and keep moving amidst crowds. HMMWVs are SUV trucks NOT COMBAT VEHICLES. When all of this happens our troops if they are not killed outright when they are hit in their HMMWVS---run for their lives and leave their impotent HMMWVs to burn as a propaganda visual image victory for the enemy to be seen by the entire world of U.S. weakness.


What most people in the West do not understand is that "World War IV" as James Woolsey calls the "War on Terrorism" is about a free world in zero population growth (ZPG) under attack by Islamic malcontents who are having babies (making more malcontents) pouring through non-existent borders and inhabiting cultures they hate. Yes, the West should be sending a clear message that "we have technology and we can be right with God" to counter the Islamist's "we are right with God and you are not" and win over as many Muslims to a peaceful co-existence with the West even if they are at odds with many of its secular, materialistic and even Judaeo-Christian values. However, we must understand that we cannot count on winning over the Islamic fanatics who must be PHYSICALLY resisted by not letting them get into the west by immigration/infiltration through fence-less borders and killed/captured by military/police actions before they can attack the nation-states of the west. We are in Martin Van Crevald's 4th Generation of War (4GW) where nation-states in general are under attack by sub-national discontent created by a world informed by global media and expectations of a better life. We are not in Alvin/Heidi Toffler's "Third Wave" of civilization where the world is getting better and better with computers and wars can be fought with just mental mouse-clicks of firepower without boots-on-the-ground maneuver requiring live human beings. Our supremacy in computers has NOT subdued Iraq divided by religious and secular sub-national groups. Our supremacy in computers has not made our military automatically superior and successful over the Iraqi resistance groups.

To win this war on sub-national terrorism externally with military forces, America at ZPG cannot afford to be losing precious young men and women who cannot be easily replaced due to incompetent force structures and designs caused by basing them on faulty Tofflerian utopian fantasies. That's just the utilitarian, pragmatic view. There's also the MORAL view described in detail by Dr. Jonathan Shay in his book, Achilles in Vietnam that for America's Army to keep the faith and trust of its Soldiers in a shooting war, it must be MORAL and not callously send them to their deaths that could have been prevented by being more tactically proficient and giving a damn. In 4GW, where the legitimacy of the nation-state; the will of the people themselves IS THE CENTER OF GRAVITY, not just defeating an opposing nation-state army, keeping the faith of our Soldiers is the key to victory.

If we can be easily killed in wheeled trucks we cannot even protect ourselves much less maintain order and security with everyone seeing on TV our trucks on fire and our men dragged through the streets for a nation-state to exist. At ZPG, every preventable casualty is intolerable for their families, and the nation psychologically as a whole. If civilization is to prevail over the barbarians, it must get a lot tougher, so THEY DIE, not us.

Right now, the U.S. military is failing to keep moral faith to its own Soldiers. Droves of Soldiers are leaving the All Volunteer Force (AVF) after 1 tour of duty in Iraq after they realize no amount of pay/benefits can compensate if you are DEAD--because they are being inadequately protected in absurd HMMWV and other wheeled trucks. How did we get to the current wheeled Army?

1. The current DoD/Army "leadership" is anti-physical

Current Army officials are against ANY tracked armored vehicles being the basis for future forces and want wheels because they think we can "cherry pick" where/when we can fight using computers (Alvin/Heidi Toffler's Third Wave mentality) and can get by/pinch pennies with rubber-tired wheeled trucks; the $250,000 so-called "armored" M1114 HMMWV is what the Army wants to throw in all the new Soldiers into as we expand from 30 to 48 brigade "units of action". Details:

In the early 1980s, we replaced the tiny 1/4 ton cargo capacity jeep which always was seen as a small scout car hard to be seen/hit by the enemy (not a troop transport) with the 1.25 ton cargo capacity HMMWV truck which can move up to a squad of Soldiers without any or little armor protection. Large 2.5 and 5 ton cargo truck were created with the WWII linear battlefield idea that they would shuttle men/supplies from safe "rear" areas to the "front" lines and would not have to fight. With easy win wars in Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), Desert Storm (1991) and Afghanistan (2002) where the enemy didn't fight back very hard, the idea came along that the HMMWV could become a quasi-combat vehicle carrying troops since we didn't have daily images of them on fire on TV reminding us they need a safe place to operate in like we see today in Iraq. In WWII, with a booming and growing population making lots of babies to become 18-year old Soldier draftees, we had a 100 division Army that could march on Berlin and Tokyo and along the way clear out large swaths of terrain of the enemy for wheeled trucks to shuttle men/supplies to the "front". Today, at ZPG, we struggle to bribe enough young men with AVF pay/benefits to keep a tiny 10-division army; when we go to war we do not have the combat power to make safe "rear" areas for wheeled trucks to operate in; the battlefield is non-linear (NLB). After you defeat a nation-state army, the enemy may have pockets of resistance all around you that can attack at any time in any direction. This means EVERY Soldier and every Army unit must be PHYSICALLY able to fight; this means they must be in tracked, armored vehicles that can withstand enemy fire and keep moving.

2. Because the Army leadership is on an anti-physical spending binge, they would not for years even armor our FMTV and HMMWV trucks much less add the armor the M113A3 Gavins are supposed to have nor put gunshields on M2 Bradleys and M1 Abrams because the latter are tracked. Only because troops have been dying and being maimed in Iraq and have demanded a chance at self-survival has truck armoring been allowed. AS SOON AS THE IRAQ CRISIS IS OVER THE EXTRA ARMOR WILL COME OFF ALL ARMY TRUCKS SO THEY CAN BE GARRISON 10/20 STANDARD "PRETTY" and pinch pennies by being lighter and use less fuel. The armor will get lost and more troops will have to die before new armor is purchased and added.

3. Future Force designs are CONCEPT rather than THREAT driven.

What this means is Army leaders on a Tofflerian/RMA ego trip want more than ANYTHING is to get computers into every rifle squad to do their "cherry picking" and fantasize a linear battlefield with computer graphics that doesn't exist. Thus, they want a $10 million each medium-weight Future Combat System (FCS) family of variant vehicles to do their CONCEPT of warfare which is a network-centric, cum-by-ya of weak co-dependant people in weak vehicles centrally controlled by narcissistic egomaniacs (them).

Never mind that the FACTS are more Soldiers have died from the THREAT BELOW; land mines and roadside bombs THAN ANY OTHER CAUSE SINCE VIETNAM!!! (THREAT) The Army's senior leaders and R&D community are focused on winning another WWII-style nation-state army in open, rural area combat at stand-off ranges using computer steered firepower and then mopping up with troops-in-trucks afterwards and want this CONCEPT to be the basis for future Army forces.

4. Battlefield Reality 101

We all know that the above is a bunch of egomaniac, utopian bunk; the physical is still paramount in the physical world we live in. There are two threats we need to base our forces on; The Battle Against the Earth and the Battle against Man.

Against the earth, there are two types of terrain, open and closed.

In the open you need the heaviest armor protection possible in your vehicles and still be able to maneuver in 2 dimensions (2D). For closed terrains, you need lighter vehicles that can swim, go cross-country at will, and be flown en masse by aircraft OVER bad terrain and long distances; a three dimensional force (3D). Realizing this; the FCS should be in two different sizes: a heavy 50-ton FCS-2D and a lighter FCS-3D that can do 3D maneuver in existing Army/Air Force aircraft.

Against man, the 2D and 3D forces compliment each other with operational maneuver; the 3D can fly on ahead to secure lodgements for the 2D to arrive by ship, on the battlefield the 3D can cut-off the enemy trying to flee from the 2D push etc. etc. Details:

A Heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicle or FCS-2D built around surplus M1 chassis(plural) as Greg Pickell proposes similar to what the IDF already use would be for the 2D forces:

We still need lighter tanks for 3D forces.

Without 100 divisions of troops, we cannot clear out large areas of enemy troops but must go after centers of gravity to collapse enemy nation-states. As we then restore order there will be pockets of enemy resistance everywhere making a NON-LINEAR BATTLEFIELD (NLB) where the enemy can attack in any direction at any time. We can no longer operate unarmored wheeled trucks because there are no safe, "rear" areas, everyone has to be able to fight at any time. This is what the debacle in Iraq should be teaching us. Tracks not trucks!

5. Alternative U.S. Army Vehicular Plans

The concerned observer of what the Army is doing has to realize the following schools of thought:

a. Put every squad in two $250,000 each new purchase armored HMMWV wheeled trucks

b. Keep switching a brigade at a time into new-purchase $3.3 million each Stryker wheeled trucks

c. Buy $10 million each medium-weight, one-size-fits-all-circumstances (not) FCS variants and switch out a brigade at a time 10 years from now

d. Upgrade for $400,000 each the thousands of M113 Gavin light tracks the Army has to move the rifle squad with hybrid-electric drive, band track stealth, RPG, roadside bomb armor, gunshields (defacto FCS-3D)

e. Upgrade for $1,000,000 each hundreds of M1 heavy tank chassis (plural) into heavy infantry fighting vehicles with extra armor, gunshields (defacto FCS-2D)

Notice the first three options waste lots of money and exalt general officer's egos. Never mind that MORE C4ISR packages can be supplied to more troops by upgrading existing vehicles since new purchase costs can go towards getting MORE CAPABILITIES. Upgrading existing platforms is OLD and Army narcissistic egomaniacs want NEW, NEW, NEW, whatever can waste the maximum money from Congress/tax payers and exalt senior officer power and ego. NOT what the threat requires us to defeat it or is most conceptually 2D/3D effective.

My point is that even though we may have hundreds of M1 hulls, this is still NOT ENOUGH to MOVE THE ENTIRE ARMY. Even if we did have enough 40-ton M1 hulls THESE ARE TOO HEAVY to economically move ALL of an Army force at 1 mpg and would tear up roads/pavement. Some may contest whether 40 ton medium to light-heavy IFVs would tear up roads but the fact is 33-ton Bradleys are already doing this to a degree in Iraq. The point is we do not have the M1 hulls to transform the entire Army into HIFVs. If we build new 40-ton hulls, you run into the death spiral of $10 million each FCS-2Ds that we will discover like RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopters are too expensive to build.

We're not against building every HIFV using extra M1 hulls to be the defacto FCS-2D, we support such an idea in our book; "Air-Mech-Strike: Asymmetric Maneuver Warfare for the 21st Century":

6. What is the protection "floor", minimum transportation standard on the NLB? When "Perfect" becomes the enemy of "Good Enough"

What is going on is that you have some defeatist types in the Army who say if what you do isn't PERFECT (invincible) we will not even do its improvements to make our vehicles MORE VINCIBLE. Their real agenda is to do the MINIMAL thing, troop protection be damned. These are primarily All Volunteer Force egotists who do not have the humility or love of their nation and other Soldiers to study war honestly. They are in the AVF as a personal ego trip. War is a STRUGGLE and these types lack the will to win and do EVERYTHING in our power to win, which implies a STRUGGLE; being chalant and pulling your sleeves up and working with people and using their ideas. You cannot be an egomaniac, narcissistic snob and work-together in a co-operative STRUGGLE. It takes HUMILITY. Humility to respect the enemy and what he can do with C4, RPGs and 155mm artillery shells as a cunning human being made in God's image but with an evil nature like you: a "Killer Angel". Humility to admit your human body is NOT invincible if you are a Special Forces/Airborne/light infantry egotist. No amount of physical fitness will enable you to avoid all battlefield weaponry and will not save you if you are hit; "PT" will not save you from "TNT". You have to be lucky all the time if you are vulnerable; the enemy only has to be lucky once. The solution is to have humility and admit you can be hit, and have "PLAN B" armor protection in this case to withstand the enemy's actions. At the strategic and operational levels of war good generalship seeks to collapse the will of the enemy so he resists us less so we have less shots to avoid and withstand, but this is not always possible or should be counted on when we design our force structures. Our easy victories in Grenada, Panama and the irst Gulf War where the enemy will collapsed after a few days of fighting have lulled us into the illusion that we don't need robustness to overcome an enemy fighting back.

You will have to at some point ride in a motor vehicle to cover the great distances on our still very large planet earth, and when doing so if you are in an unarmored, wheeled truck, you are a target that can be easily killed regardless if you are a SEAL physical fitness "stud" or a National Guard "couch potato" called to active duty. Consider the tragedy of former SEAL Scott Helvetson who was one of the Blackwater civilian contractors who was killed in a gasoline-powered SUV truck in Iraq and then dragged out of his burning wheeled vehicle beaten, and dragged through the street by an angry Iraqi mob:

Middle East - AP

Fitness Guru Among Four Killed in Iraq

Fri Apr 2, 9:59 AM ET

By MASON STOCKSTILL, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - After serving 12 years in the Navy, Scott Helvenston started a career as a fitness instructor and worked as trainer and stunt man for such movies as "Face/Off" and "G.I. Jane."

He helped prepare actress Demi Moore for her role as the first woman to join the Navy SEALs in "G.I. Jane," and appeared on two reality series: "Man vs. Beast" and "Combat Missions."

But after years out of the service, friends said they weren't surprised to learn the former SEAL had left the comfort of his life in California behind him and headed for Iraq (news - web sites).

"That's what, in a time of need, true American warriors like Scott would do," "Combat Missions" producer Mark Burnett said Thursday.

Helvenston, 38, was among four American civilian contractors killed in Fallujah, Iraq, in an ambush on Wednesday, their charred bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets. The contractors were working for Blackwater Security Consulting when their vehicle was hit by rocket-propelled grenades.

Two of the other victims have been identified as Jerko "Jerry" Zovko, 32, and Michael Teague, 38.

Zovko always wanted to save the world, his mother said. He joined the Army at 19 and spoke five languages fluently English, Croatian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

"Jerry was a man with a principle, an idea," his mother, Danica "Donna" Zovko said in Willoughby, Ohio. "He loved people. He wanted the world to be without borders, for everybody to be free and safe."

Mrs. Zovko said she and her husband, Jozo, suspected their son was one of the dead late Wednesday evening because he had been working in Iraq. Their fears were confirmed early Thursday.

"He was the most self-motivated person," Zovko's brother Tom told ABC's "Good Morning America. "He grew up a skinny, little guy but wanted to be big, and he become big. He had desire and motivation and never gave up."

Teague was a 12-year Army veteran who served in Afghanistan (news - web sites), Panama and Grenada, said his wife, Rhonda Teague. She said he received a bronze star for his service in Afghanistan.

Rhonda Teague called her husband a "proud father, soldier and American."

"I, his son Brandon and his friends and family will miss him without

measure," her statement said.

Teague, of Clarksville, Tenn., had worked in the security business since he left the Army six years ago, and joined Blackwater Security two months ago, WTVF-TV of Nashville reported.

A friend, Sgt. John Ratliff, told CBS' "The Early Show" that Teague "told me to promise to take care of his wife and his son ... He knew it was rough over there."

"In my opinion, Mike was caught in a situation to where he couldn't do anything for himself or his counterparts," Ratliff said. He said he knew his friend "would have done anything in his power" to save himself and the other three if it had been possible.

Helvenston's fitness company, Amphibian Athletics, promised to bring a Navy SEAL-style workout to his customers. His wife, Tricia, appeared in some of the company's workout videos.

Fred Atkinson, a neighbor of Helvenston's in Oceanside, said he was a devoted father to his children, Kyle and Kelsey, and often took them camping or surfing.

The identity of the fourth victim was not immediately known. The names of the victims were not officially released because all family members had yet to be notified, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Blackwater Security, based in Moyock, N.C., provides security training and guard services to customers around the world. President Gary Jackson and two other company leaders are former Navy SEAL commandos.

A statement on the company's Web site said officials were grieving for the employees.

"Our tasks are dangerous, and while we feel sadness for our fallen colleagues, we also feel pride and satisfaction that we are making a difference for the people of Iraq."


On the Net:

Blackwater USA:

Furthermore, some injuries are so devastating to the human body, NO AMOUNT of medical care can save you. So you had best NOT GET INJURED IN THE FIRST PLACE. Details:

Humility also means the heavy tankers and mech infantry types must admit even heavy tanks are not invincible. Yes, M1 Abrams and Merkava heavy tanks have been destroyed by large road bombs, killing a handful of Soldiers. But this is in contrast to the HUNDREDS of Soldiers who have been killed in wheeled trucks who could have been saved had they been inside even a light track. Do not "throw the baby out with the bathwater". Realize "Perfect" platform supremacy at best can only exist for a short period of time until they enemy can adapt and overcome it. Do not be smug and complacent. Striving for a "Perfect" solution that cannot be done must not become the "enemy"---a course of action that when followed stops the course of action of the "good enough". This could be more accurately seen as the "best we can do" that can be done. The Tofflerian's FCS as a panacea because it has a computer network is an example of this; the allegedly "perfect" FCS that doesn't exist sucks up $BILLIONS of dollars of money each year that could go to existing, good-enough platforms TODAY that would save Soldier's lives and win battles. The RAH-66 Comanche squandered billions from Army aircraft for 10 years doing the same thing. However, on closer inspection, our existing tracked platforms are actually BETTER than the proposed wheeled FCS platforms, and more economical to transform the entire Army faster, and are better 2D/3D optimized than the proposed one-medium-size-for-all tracked FCS candidates.

Here is the reality:


Rolls on steel tracks with rubber pads...

Heavy Tanks (70 ton M1 Abrams tanks)

Medium Tanks (33-ton M2 Bradleys)

M113 Gavins with extra armor

M113 Gavins with sandbags

Light Tanks (11-ton M113 Gavins)

----------------------------------dividing line-------------------------------

Rolls on air-filled rubber tires that burn....

Heavy armored cars (do not exist, not practical)

Medium armored cars (19-ton Strykers)

Light armored cars (4-6 ton armored HMMWVs)

unarmored cars/trucks with sand bags

unarmored cars/trucks (3 ton HMMWV SUVs)

troops on foot


What the Army is doing by having the majority of its troops ride in wheeled trucks is BELOW the line or "floor" of what will protect our troops on the lethal non-linear battlefield.

However, we need an EXISTING VEHICLE IN LARGE QUANTITIES that can be upgraded to make our Army combat ready N-O-W WITHOUT $3-10 MILLION EACH NEW SINGLE PLATFORM PURCHASES. There are really only two candidates for this:

HMMWV 3-ton trucks

M113 Gavin light 10.5 ton tracks

That's it.

Clearly, we can get more troop protection and combat capabilities for $500,000 with one 3.5 mpg M113 Gavin light track than a pair of HMMWV $250,000 trucks (5 mpg) that have 4 windows, 4 doors, a windshield and roll on air-filled rubber tires that can neither swim, be RPG resistant or go cross-country at will. The MINIMUM TRANSPORTATION STANDARD ON THE NON-LINEAR BATTLEFIELD MUST BE A LIGHT TRACKED AFV not a wheeled truck.

What we're saying is EVERYONE that is not in a medium or heavy track be in a LIGHT TRACK unless they are in a wheeled cargo hauling truck because we do not have cargo hauling tracks fielded en masse. Scott Miller wants to fix this with XM1108 Gavin variants with PLS flat racks:

Fuel economy, affordability, pavement damage and 3D transportability issues dictate that the best en masse level of protected troop transport feasible is a LIGHT TRACKED AFV.

7. How did we go so wrong? Where was the Doctrine?

First, tanks are SAPPER VEHICLES to overcome enemy opposition. Combat Engineers should have had control of tank development so we didn't have to play catch-up with Percy Hobart in WWII continuing to the present day to overcome enemy obstacles and land mines. Lighter tank development for 3D maneuver has suffered by no CAVALRY BRANCH to understand their need/role; "Armor" branch has no enduring battlefield functional role to keep it honest and has thus gone platform centric in favor of ego-gratifying heavy tank duels, ruining 2D maneuver:

WARNING: Red China Ready to exploit light tanks to conquer Taiwan China

The year to fear for Taiwan: 2006

By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI- If China ever makes the decision to invade Taiwan it is unlikely to be a large-scale Normandy-style amphibious assault. The reality is that China is more likely to use a decapitation strategy. Decapitation strategies short circuit command and control systems, wipe out nationwide nerve centers, and leave the opponent hopelessly lost. As the old saying goes, "Kill the head and the body dies." All China needs to do is seize the center of power, the capital and its leaders.

If China decides to use force to reunify the mainland with what it terms a breakaway province, the window of opportunity is believed to be 2006. This would give China a couple of years to clean up the mess before the 2008 Summer Olympics. Most analysts estimate that China's military strength will surpass Taiwan's defense capabilities by 2005. So 2006 - the Year of the Dog - is clearly the year to fear.

United States Defense Department officials now are reexamining China'smilitary threat to Taiwan. This rethink has caused a dramatic shift in the way many think of defending Taiwan. Traditionally, Taiwan had always feared an amphibious assault - the Normandy scenario - and its defense strategy was always designed to stop such an attack. Now with a potential decapitation strategy believed to be in the works, U.S. defense officials are beginning to think what had once been unthinkable: losing Taiwan inonly seven days.

The Taiwan takeover scenario

China's deployment of its special forces and rapid-deployment forces, combined with air power and missile strikes, is the most likely formula for successfully taking Taiwan with the least amount of effort and damage. The military acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) is in full force here. Special forces, which blend strength with deception and flair, offer China laser cutters rather than sledge hammers for defeating Taiwan's armed forces.

An airborne assault directly on Taipei by China's 15th Airborne Corps (Changchun), with three divisions (43rd, 44th, 45th) would be the first phase of the assault, with additional paratroopers being dropped in Linkou, Taoyuan and Ilian, to tie up Taiwan's four divisions assigned to the 6th Army (North). A Chinese airborne division contains 11,000 men with light tanks and self-propelled artillery. Some intelligence reports have indicated that China was able to airlift one airborne division to Tibet in less than 48 hours in 1988. Today, China's ability to transport troops has greatly improved. China is expected to be able to deliver twice that number - 22,000 - in two days.

Taiwan's 6th Army has seven infantry brigades: 106, 116, 118, 152, 153, 176, and 178. The 152/153 Dragons and the the 176/178 Tigers are said to be the best. Also a direct assault on the 6th Army's 269th motorized brigade, 351st armored infantry brigade, and the 542nd armored brigade would be mandatory for Chinese forces.

Most of the initial fighting would be in the Zhong Zheng District, Taipei, which contains the Presidential Building, the Ministry of National Defense, and the Legislative Yuan. As soon as China's troops hit the ground they would have to deal with Taiwan's Military Police Command (MPC). The MPC is responsible for protecting key government buildings and military installations. Its personnel are the gatekeepers, holding all the keys and guarding all the doors. They are considered no-nonsense and are humorless when approached. China's airborne forces would meet immediate resistance from these Taipei forces. Regular army units, all based outside of Taipei, would take hours, perhaps days, to respond. It would be up to the MPC to hold the Chinese back until reinforcements arrived - which might be never.

Assassins, saboteurs would be prepositioned

Pre-positioned special forces, smuggled into Taiwan months before, would assassinate key leaders, and attack radar and communication facilities around Taiwan a few hours before the main attack. Infiltrators might receive some assistance from sympathetic elements within Taiwan's military and police, who are believed to be at least 75 percent pro-Kuomintang (KMT), and hence, pro-unification. Many could use taxis to move about the city unnoticed. Mainland Chinese prostitutes, already in abundance in Taiwan, could be recruited by Chinese intelligence to serveas femme fatales, supplying critical intelligence on the locations of key government and military leaders at odd hours of the night; death is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

The second phase would begin after airborne forces captured Sungshan Airport. With a secure landing strip, China would fly in elements of its 14 divisions of "rapid reaction" troops using Ilyushin Il-76, Shaanxi Y-8, Antonov 26, and Xian Y-7 troop transports, with air support from China's 1,000 bombers and fighters. China's 10 Il-76 transports can carry 130 troops apiece, though this limitation could be overcome by commandeering aircraft belonging to commercial courier and passenger airlines. China has about 500 Boeings and Airbuses from which to choose. Some of China's heavy-lift transports would bring in BMD-2 Airborne Combat Vehicles and an assortment of armored vehicles. These air-lifted troops would spread throughout the city, securing bridges and key intersections. In addition, China has 200 transport helicopters capable of carrying commandos to Taiwan.

China might encounter opposition from Taiwan's new rapid deployment force. The newly created Aviation and Special Forces Command (ASFC) has united three aviation helicopter brigades, the 601st, 602nd, and 603rd, with the 862nd Special Warfare Brigade under one command. The 862nd is Taiwan's elite paratrooper brigade and modeled after the U.S. Army Rangers. The helicopter brigades are made up of a combination of CH-47SD Chinook transport helicopters, AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters, OH-58D Kiowa armed observation helicopters, and UH-1H Huey transport helicopters.

Taiwan also has some noteworthy smaller commando units. There are two Marine Corps units: the Amphibious Reconnaissance Patrol (ARP) and the Special Services Company (SSC). The army also has two: the 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) or "Army Frogmen", and the Airborne Special Services Company (ASSC). The ASSC is a new unit modeled after the US Delta Force. ASSC recruits from the 862nd and performs counter-terrorism and other special missions. The question of whether these forces could, or would, be moved into the conflict area intime is another matter.

Except for special forces and the marines, it is unlikely that the rest of Taiwan's infantry brigades scattered across the island would do much. As the saying goes, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters." Taiwan's military is rife with lethargic and ineffectual troops just begging for their 20-month tour of duty to end so they can go back to their girlfriends and jobs. Many call Taiwan's youth, including its young soldiers, the "strawberry generation" because they are soft and spoiled by the good life. U.S. military officials visiting Taiwan often complain that the military's boot camps are too lax. The military appears more afraid of angering the parents of the conscripts than confronting a Chinese invasion, say visiting U.S. Soldiers. One politically correct legislator recently complained to Asia Times Online, "Taiwan has to do something about violence in the military." The correspondent reminded him, "The military is a violent institution." Theconversation was over; the lesson lost.

Identity crisis within Taiwan's military

Taiwan'smilitary also faces an identity crisis. The idea that Taiwan is part ofChina still resonates strongly within the military. For example, unit patches worn by soldiers often bear the outline of China, not Taiwan. The 6th Army, 8th Army, 46th Division, and Marine Corps have the image of China on their patches. The 117th Infantry Brigade has an eagle landing on mainland China. The 34th Division, 157th Infantry Brigade, and 200th Motorized Brigade display the Great Wall of China. None of the unit patches or emblems bears the image of Taiwan. In fact, visitors to military bases see no evidence whatsoever that they are located in Taiwan. China is the central theme of the whole military experience for Taiwan's conscripts. Even the names of naval vessels have Chinese themes.

Taiwan's navy would have little to do in this war scenario, except sink like rocks. A few would shoot down a small number of the Chinese planes heading to Taiwan, but most would be taken out of action by China's numerous anti-ship missiles. Of particular annoyance is the nasty Russian-made Sunburn anti-ship missile (ASM). Three times as fast as the US Harpoon ASM, the Sunburn does not slam into the side of a ship like the Harpoon; instead, as it nears the target it rises above it and then dives straight down through the deck of the ship. The speed and angle of the attack make it nearly impossible to shoot down or to disable by electronic countermeasures or jamming.

Taiwan's air force would be kept busy trying to repair runway damage caused by the estimated 500 short-range ballistic missiles deployed along China's coast and targeting Taiwan. China's Second Artillery Corps would launch Dong Feng 11 (M-11) and DF-15 (M-9) in multiple-wave and multi-directional saturation attacks on air bases, port facilities and other strategic locations. Only a small number would be intercepted by Taiwan's three Patriot (PAC-2 Plus) anti-missile defense batteries located around Taipei. The PACs will only be able to hit missiles coming down on northern Taiwan. The south is totally unprotected from ballistic missiles. China's special forces, infiltrated to Taiwan, would take a keen interest in locating and destroying the PACs. Everyone knows where they are, so it would not be too difficult.

Even if Taiwan could dispatch some of its fighter aircraft, China would meet them in the air with some of its brand new Sukhoi 30, Su-27 and JH-7 fighters. China took delivery of 154 Russian Su-27 fighters earlier this year. By the end of 2004 China is expected to have 273 advanced Sukhoi fighters. Those fighter pilots able to take off before their bases were destroyed would give the Chinese a hell of a fight, but once their aircraft began to run out of fuel they would have no where to land. Many would simply fight to the bitter end and eject if they cared enough.

In the meantime, China's 100 Xian H-6 (Tu-16) Badger and approximately 500 Harbin H-5 (Il-28) Beagle bombers would clean up those areas not destroyed by the initial missile attack. Of particular concern to the Chinese are two "secret" air bases located within hollowed-out mountains in eastern Taiwan, Chiashan in Hualien and Chihhang in Taitung. These would probably survive the initial missile strike, and require a little more effort from China's air force.

New pro-Beijing government swiftly sworn in

Once Taipei was captured, a new government chosen by Beijing would besworn into office. There would be plenty of Taiwanese politicians to choose from. It is well known there are many pro-China legislators who have investments in China and more than a few who have had private meetings with Beijing officials. The inauguration would be conducted in the spotlight of the international media, giving it some psychological legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. There would be too many pro-China people in the US State Department - privately relieved the Taiwan issue was finally settled - to say anything in Taiwan's defense.

With the new government inaugurated, the new president would declare an end to all hostilities with China. During a nationwide televised speech, the new president would order all military forces to stand down. With the pro-China sentiments running high in the Taiwan military, it is likely that most would grudgingly accept the new president.

The new president would contact the U.S. Department of Defense via the new hotline installed by the U.S. government in 2002 and warn against any U.S. military actions taken on behalf of Taiwan or against Taiwan's new guests, the Chinese military. Using the hotline would demonstrate to the U.S. that the new president and his people have access to the codes necessary to transmit an encrypted message, and also validate that the new president has the authority to access the hotline within Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense - a demonstration of power and control.

U.S. military forces could respond in this scenario if so ordered. Thequestion is, how committed is the U.S. to Taiwan's defense? Given the speed of the Chinese attack, it is unlikely that U.S. aircraft carriers would initially be involved, except for the USS Kitty Hawk. The closest U.S. military support that could act quickly is only 20 minutes away in Okinawa.

Under the 5th Air Force based in Japan, Okinawa's Kadena Air Force Base has two fighter squadrons of F-15 Strike Eagle fighter aircraft (44th FS Vampires and 67th FS Fighting Cocks). In addition, the Misawa Air Base in Japan has two fighter squadrons of F-16 Falcon fighter aircraft (13th FS Panthers and 14th FS Samurais). The 7th Air Force in Korea has three squadrons of F-16s and the 11th Air Force in Alaska has three squadronsof F-15s and one squadron of F-16s.

Call in the U.S. marines?

The U.S. marine Corps is another potential thorn in China's side. Underthe Marine Aircraft Group 12 in Iwakuni, Japan, the marines have three squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets, one squadron of EA-6B Prowlers, and onesquadron of AV-8 Harrier fighter aircraft (Okinawa).

China has every reason to fear U.S. air power. U.S. pilots are far better trained than the Chinese. China has been lax in its training programs, so it would not be surprising to see TV images of Chinese aircraft plummeting to earth in flames. One can understand why China fervently hopes U.S. military forces will be pulling out of South Korea and Japan.

If the U.S. were able to send aircraft carriers to the scene, the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet has six aircraft carriers in its arsenal: USS Kitty Hawk, Carl Vinson, Nimitz, Abraham Lincoln, John C Stennis, and Ronald Reagan. These ships carry F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18, and EA-6B aircraft. The Kitty Hawk is the only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the US military. Based at Yokosuka, Japan, it recently visited Hong Kong and is often mentioned in media reports regarding potential conflicts involvingTaiwan.

The U.S. marine corps has seven amphibious assault ships in the Pacific equipped with a variety of helicopters, fighter aircraft and assault troops. These are basically self-contained invasion forces. There are the USS Tarawa, Belleau Wood, Peleliu, Essex, Boxer, Bon Homme Richard, and Iwo Jima. Basically mini-aircraft carriers with an attitude, the Tarawa, for example, can carry four AH-1 Sea Cobra attack helicopters, six heavy-lift CH-53 Stallion transport helicopters, 20 M-60 tanks, 29 light armored vehicles, 29 AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles, and 1,900 men of a Reinforced Marine Battalion.

US aircraft carrier strike group may move to Guam

China may also have to consider the newest arrivals to Andersen Air Force Base in nearby Guam. In February, six B-52s Stratofortresses arrived from the 5th Bomb Wing based at Minot, North Dakota, at the request of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) in Hawaii. PACOM requested a "rotational bomber force on the island until it's no longerneeded".

PACOM argues that the move is in response to North Korea, but others are suggesting that Taiwan is the basis of much of the move. This is a common theme in US military planning in Asia: the overt reason used is North Korea, but the covert one is Taiwan. Guam is now being considered for possible placement of an aircraft-carrier strike group to be moved fromHawaii.

Japan is another element in the equation, and it could intervene. Many argue that if China takes Taiwan, both Japan and South Korea would quickly develop and deploy nuclear weapons - probably in a few months. Losing the Taiwan Strait to China and facing a militarily adventuresome Beijing would send shock waves throughout the region. If Japan chose to intervene, it has nine squadrons of F-15 fighters to throw into the fight. Japan's naval arm could engage Chinese naval forces with close to50 destroyers, 10 frigates, and 16 submarines.

However, in an escalating conflict involving the US, there is a possibility that China would attack US military bases in the region. Slamming DF-21C Terminal Guided Missiles on Okinawa could be a start. Beijing would consider this to be an option only after US forces have engaged Chinese naval vessels and aircraft crossing the Taiwan Strait, according to analysts. China might even get more aggressive by using special forces against US military bases in Japan, Alaska and Hawaii. All these options would give China more time to consolidate forces on Taiwan, and forestall US intervention.

Why is Taiwan worth fighting for?

To anyone who looks at a map of the region, the reasons are obvious. Taiwan's strategic location makes it extremely valuable. The Taiwan Strait is a critical sea lane, and taking Taiwan would allow China to choke off international commercial shipping, especially oil, to Japan and South Korea, should it ever decide to do so. In addition, Taiwan serves as a vital window for US intelligence collection. Taiwan's National Security Bureau and the US National Security Agency jointly run a Signal Intelligence facility on Yangmingshan Mountain just north of Taipei (see Spook Mountain: How U.S. spies on China, March 6, 2003). Taiwan'sinclusion into China's military power structure would be unthinkable forJapan.

Of course, this is only a scenario based on selected facts and seasoned with conjecture. Speculation about what China could do and what it will do are rarely comparable. Too many media pundits make mention of a Normandy-style invasion, or an apocalyptic-style missile strike, without seriously considering the fastest way between two points. Of course, China, be warned: "No plan survives the first seconds of combat".

Wendell Minnick is the Jane's Defence Weekly correspondent for Taiwan and the author of Spies and Provocateurs: A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Persons Conducting Espionage and Covert Action (McFarland 1992). He can be contacted at


The U.S. DoD needs to be completely reformed before there is a terrorist WMD attack that wipes out an American city. Details:

Americans need to serve a 2 year term of national and long-term reserve service to ward off selfish, consumerist hedonism, build a sense of ownership in the nation-state and inject non-careerist leadership into our military.

In the short term, America's Army must become a go-anywhere, all tracked, primarily light tracked armored vehicle force to prevail on the non-linear, 4th generation war battlefield where the main weapon is the hidden bomb or rocket propelled grenade. The wheeled even "armored" truck is a WWII rear area implement that has no place on the NLB of today and tomorrow.

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