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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

News and Updates October 2014

The American Innovation blog has undergone a few changes since the last update including: new additions to the blog articles by topic tab, corrected images which originally did not display properly for the "Should the US Sell Taiwan New F-16s?" article, and added new blogs I recommend to the reading list on the right side bar.

I apologize for the lack of articles in recent weeks. Midterms will be over soon and I will be able to resume publishing articles again shortly.

Upcoming Articles

Assisting Taiwan: How the US Can Realistically Improve Taiwan's Military Posture

The Chinese military's modernization since the 1990s has been nothing short of remarkable. In nearly every respect, from equipment to training, the disparity between the Chinese-Taiwan military balance has shifted in China's favor over the last decade. China's growing economic, political, and military influence in the Asia-Pacific region has triggered a strong US response via the Rebalance. The US has sought to expand ties with several countries nervous of China's growing territorial ambitions but Taiwan remains a difficult case. China opposes any and all US weapon sales and other forms of support to the island nation. China's growing lobbying efforts against the sale of new equipment to Taiwan is evident in the Obama Administration's decision to offer an upgrade package for Taiwan's existing F-16 Block 20 fleet as a compromise rather than granting their initial request for 66 new F-16 C/D Block 50/52+ aircraft. The author will discuss methods in which the United States can support Taiwan with reduced political backlash from China, and the extent in which the US should value military to military contacts with China given the apparent lack of change in Chinese behavior with respect to territorial issues.

Resurgent Russia Part III 

Despite the ceasefire in Ukraine, the US-Russia relationship will likely be marked by a new sense of animosity and rivalry for years to come. The United States must adapt to the strategic reality that the Russian Federation cannot be counted on as a "partner nation" or "responsible stakeholder" in the international system. However, Russia's new found confidence to assert itself in world affairs must be viewed in context in terms of other US strategic priorities. Frankly speaking, a purely hawkish approach to Russia will not be conducive to promoting global US interests. The United States sill requires Russian cooperation in enforcing international sanctions against Iran and intense US pressure on Russia will only drive Putin to expand military, political, and economic ties with China. While inherent geo-political factors make a formal alliance nearly impossible between Russia and China, the two countries still could expand cooperation in ways that would pose a significant challenge to the United States. At the same time, the US must prevent the formation of a Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe while many NATO member states continue to slide into strategic irrelevance.

Recommended Media

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China Deploys A Mechanized ‘Peace Mission’ - By Richard D. Fisher, Jr


  1. Hello Matt, since you're about to make an article relating to Taiwan's Defense. I would like to hear your thoughts on this 25-min documentary "Ditching the Draft" from Al-Jazeera which basically discusses about Taiwan's Defense needs, its military capabilities strengths and weaknesses and how the ROC Government plans to improve its recruitment challenges to encourage more people in Taiwan to have the will and confidence to defend the island from PLA forces, etc.

    Though one Taiwanese f-16 pilot in that video did mentioned that the ROC air force is simply outmatched by the PLA's Air Force mainly due to their numerical advantages, but my question though is how fast would China be able to marshal those forces across the Taiwan Strait? And how well-trained exactly are the PLA Pilots as opposed to Taiwanese Pilots which some received training from the U.S?

    1. Hello, Unfortunately I was unable to watch the video as "The uploader has not made this video available in your country". I tried going through a proxy but that didn't work either, my apologies.

      A RAND report that might interest you "Dire Strait? Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Confrontation and Options for U.S. Policy". The report is somewhat dated given it was written in 2000 but at that time, the report estimates the level of ROCAF fighter pilot proficiency is approximate to 80% of a US fighter pilot (with respect to the F-16). However, China has dramatically improved its fighter training programs since then and its best pilots receive nearly 200 hours of practice flight hours per year which is fairly close to the USAF 250-300 practice flight hours pre-Sequestration.

      China still has a long way to go to match the USAF in terms of pilot quality (at least 10 years to reach our current level by some estimates) but they don't have to match us to be a problem given their in theatre numerical superiority. What worries me is some in the US have been complacent and deep cuts have been made to US training programs e.g. the recent termination of the 65th Aggressor Squadron.

      As far as mobilization goes, it would depend on the scenario. I doubt you would see a "bolt out of the blue" type surprise attack. Any surprise attack would almost certainly mean less forces are available for the initial strikes. You would probably see either an incremental or massive build up prior to an attack. Sortie generation rates would be a good way of quantifying mobilization (RAND has a lot of info on that as well). Ref. slide 30.

  2. Here's a better link to the video that I tried to post and see if it's better. :)

    But yeah, if the U.S doesn't solve any solution to end the sequestration ASAP, then Taiwan is going to find itself in a very difficult situation given its current financial strengths to even produce its own indigenous defense program. And given China's numerical number of aircrafts as opposed to Taiwan's small number of fighters available to them, I would suggest that they should build an epic tons of SAM batteries (Sky Bow II & III) as an alternative to improve its air defense coverage around the island as part of the Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) strategy that Taiwan is already planning with.

    Thanks for the links by the way.