US bases woefully exposed to Chinese missile attacks – Asia Times

US bases woefully exposed to Chinese missile attacks - Asia Times

US lawmakers are urging the US Department of Defense ( DOD ) to quickly adopt new critical defenses in the Indo-Pacific while citing the severe threat posed by China’s improved strike capabilities.

Senators Marco Rubio and John Moolenaar, both of whom represent the United States, wrote essential letters to Carlos Del Toro and the Air Force, urging them to immediately improve their endurance in Asia.

They highlighted the serious threat posed by China’s weapons, which currently range from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands to all US foundations in the area.

The lawmakers criticized the DOD’s slow implementation of passive defenses, which are essential to survive and recover from possible Chinese missile attacks immediately.

China has constructed over 400 for homes in the past century, while the US has added just 22, according to reports. Additionally, the email addressed a bulky DOD rule governing handling munitions from World War II, which delays crucial construction projects and increases costs.

The letter’s members requested a shift from the restrictive” Weapons and Explosives of Concern” techniques to the more efficient” Recognize, Retreat, Report” approach while demanding comments on steps to be taken to enhance base threats.

They cautioned that if something was n’t done, the US government’s operational capabilities could suffer significantly, especially in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

The Biden presidency is really immediately transforming US defence system in the Indo-Pacific, according to The New York Times in April 2024, to counteract the escalating danger of a Taiwan battle.

President Joe Biden has deployed superior weapons systems, including Tomahawk rockets in Japan and portable weapon launchers in the Philippines, and he has expanded military entry to bases in all of the Indo-Pacific since taking office.

Instead of concentrating US forces on big bases, this strategic move aims to make them less vulnerable to Chinese weapon strikes by distributing them in smaller, more portable units across the region.

However, a US Congressional Research Service ( CRS ) report from June 2023 raises important questions about whether US defense infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific could survive a Chinese attack.

The report points out that the US maintains at least 66 important regional defence websites, which are essential for conducting servicing and supporting operations as well as for basing military personnel. It notes the latest basing posture, generally indicative of Cold War- era decisions, is extremely prone to China’s extremely advanced missile capabilities.

Key installations, particularly those north of the International Date Line including in Japan, South Korea and Guam, are well within striking variety of Chinese weapons.

Over 20, 000 US workers function and stay at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa in Japan’s Ryukyu Islands. Photo: Ryukyu Shimpo

According to the CRS report, Congress needs to make sure that the DOD’s equipment is in line with both corporate objectives and operational requirements. Additionally, it raises the question of whether purchases made through programs like the Pacific Deterrence Initiative are satisfactory and properly managed.

New simulations of war games show that US aircraft are losing ground to poor infrastructure defenses, which highlights the necessity of these issues.

In April 2024, Asia Times noted that Guam’s disorganized air and missile defense systems may not be adequate for preventing advanced weapons like robots, cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, and fast arms.

Kill chains that support Guam’s new Integrated Battle Command System ( IBCS) may also be vulnerable to kinetic or non-kinetic attacks. Kill chains are the processes and assets involved in detecting, locating, tracking, targeting, attacking and assessing battle damage.

US kill chains reportedly have a limited amount of flexibility and information sharing. Their centralized decision-making system and established connections are ineffective for adapting to disruptions that might occur in a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a January 2024 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments ( CSBA ) report, Carl Rehberg and Herbert emphasized the need for distributed, layered, and comprehensive US base defenses to counteract the growing threat of mass-scaled, precision-guided air and missile attacks in the Indo-Pacific.

Rehberg and Kemp urge continued support for the Guam Defense System, highlighting the need for a cost-effective, timely implementation plan with minimal personnel and infrastructure.

Additionally, they recommend the deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems ( UAS ) with advanced sensors for persistent detection and early warning of missile blasts.

Additionally, they advocate utilizing emerging technologies demonstrated by directed-energy weapons programs like THOR and Mjolnir to combat drone swarms and cruise missiles by acquiring various types of High-Power Microwave ( HPM) and Electronic Warfare ( EW ) defenses.

Rehberg and Kemp also suggest alternatives to the delayed Integrated Fire Protection Capability Increment ( IFPC 2 ) I for cost-effective and timely cruise missile defense, including the USMC’s Ground-Based Air Defense Medium Range Interceptor Capability ( GBAD MRIC ) and gun systems.

They stress the need to strengthen Integrated Air and Missile Defense ( IAMD) responsibilities both within and outside the DOD to achieve greater effectiveness. In particular, they suggest creating an enhanced IAMD Test Bed for the US Indo- Pacific Command ( USINDOPACOM) to support realistic training and development.

US aircraft carriers share the same, if not greater, vulnerabilities as US Indo- Pacific bases. Brandon Weichert asserts in an article for The National Interest ( TNI ) this month that the staggering costs, which range from US$ 13.3 billion to a single Gerald R. Ford supercarrier, and their growing vulnerability make them ineffective in contemporary warfare.

A USS Ford- class carrier. Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Riley Mc / Public Domain

Weichert contends that even non-state actors like the Houthis, supported by Iran, have used low-grade anti-ship missiles to demonstrate their ability to challenge US naval might. These missiles, he notes, have the potential to overwhelm carriers ‘ shipborne defenses, including in strategic regions like the Indo- Pacific and Red Sea.

However, in an April 2024 TNI article, Harrison Kass says that aircraft carriers will remain strategically relevant, pointing out their still unmatched mobile airpower and elusive nature in vast oceans.

Kass asserts that modern defensive technologies pose risks to aircraft carriers, but their ability to operate in the open sea without fear of harassment is still important. He contends that carriers ‘ effectiveness outweighs the risks, facilitating the US’s grand strategy, and providing a mobile alternative to stationed airspace on foreign soil.