Weekend Recap: DC Think Tank Calculates Odds Of Victory Against China In WW3 Scenario

By Eliana Regev | Saturday, 13 August 2022 15:00
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War games conducted by a Washington think tank discovered that the U.S. military could successfully defend Taiwan against a hypothetical Chinese attack — yet at the cost of massive amounts of personnel and materials. 

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has held 18 of 22 planned simulations of a 2026 Chinese attack on Taiwan, one in which the United States devotes its forces to defend the island, according to Bloomberg. Retired U.S. generals, admirals, and former Pentagon officials commanded China, the red team, and a U.S.-Japanese-Taiwanese alliance, the blue team. The latest of advanced war games used a 20-sided dice and complex computer calculations, according to the Wall Street Journal. The outcome of each game thus far have shown a Pyrrhic victory for the U.S.-led alliance.

“The results are showing that under most, though not all, scenarios, Taiwan can repel an invasion,” announced Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at CSIS. “However, the cost will be very high to the Taiwanese infrastructure and economy and to U.S. forces in the Pacific.” 

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Though the war gamers haven't calculated a specific number about the total number of casualties and economic costs, the other costs hint that it would be astronomical. In the most recent iteration, which covered a monthlong war, the U.S. lost two multibillion-dollar nuclear aircraft carriers, a large part of the U.S. and Japanese surface fleet, and 900 of the U.S.'s most advanced fighter/attack aircraft — about half of the Air Force and Navy's inventory.

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These losses would significantly diminish America's global standing for years to come. China lost 150 ships, locking its defeat.

Chinese long-range ballistic missiles destroyed U.S. bases in Japan and Guam, giving the red team an initial advantage. Nevertheless, the resilient Taiwanese forces were able to bog down Chinese troops on the island, preventing them from seizing the capital of Taipei.

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Relentless U.S. submarine, air, and missile attacks cut China's ability to resupply its attack force. The Chinese were only able to seize one-third of the island before ceding defeat. 

Though David Ochmanek, a senior RAND Corp. researcher, explained to Bloomberg the results of the war games were consistent with what he has seen before, he stressed last year, "Whenever we war-gamed a Taiwan scenario over the years, our blue team routinely got its a** handed to it because, in that scenario, time is a precious commodity, and it plays to China’s strength in terms of proximity and capabilities." Last year, an Air Force war game simulating a U.S. war with China over Taiwan ended in a catastrophic U.S. defeat. 

Several U.S. commanders were cited by the Wall Street Journal as speculating that 2027, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, could be a possible date for a Chinese attack on Taiwan. 

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