As I have written before I am a big fan of the PC game Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (CMANO). One of the scenarios CMANO comes with is a hypothetical war between the US and China in the South China Sea, The Lost Province, where China tries to regain Taiwan. China’s limited objective is to regain Taiwan, whereas the US wants to prevent exactly that from happening.
YouTube Channel Stoic Frog Gaming has done a very interesting playthrough video of the scenario:
Some Lessons Learned:
It looks like the lessons from the Millenium Challenge 2002 were confirmed once again. But has the Western world really internalized them?
- US carrier strike groups in littoral waters or close proximity to landmasses are relatively easy to spot
- US carrier strike groups are easy to identify due to their sheer size
- Cruise and ballistic missiles are a real threat for big targets, especially when employed in such masses as to saturate sensors and air defenses
- Using the moment of surprise is extremely important for China
- China can use the political situation prior to the outbreak of hostilities to collect intelligence and prepare for a massive surprise strike
There are some assumptions inherent in the scenario that need to be addressed in order to learn the correct lessons:
- Modeling accuracy of all technological systems is a big question mark. How reliable is the simulation itself?
- How accurate are initial settings for both countries? Are number, type, and location of military units and systems correct?
- CMANO only simulates the operational aspects of the war. What influence will political and strategic concerns locally and globally have on the conduct of the war?
- What will the reaction of neighboring countries be? Can China be successful in convincing its neighbors that this is only a limited war for Taiwan and they will not be attacked if they stay out of the frenzy?
- Can China sustain such a war for a prolonged period of time logistically? Do they have enough missiles to keep up the A2/AD tactics? Can they produce enough missiles in a short amount of time? Do they have the resources to do so? How will US trade embargo activities influence their production lines?
- What will be the reaction of the US public? Are Americans war-weary, or will a sneak attack awaken a sleeping bear like it did in Pearl Harbor?
It would be interesting to simulate a global strategic and operational game playing out the war between China and the US. This could be done by integrating several different elements, CMANO to play out the operational conduct of the war, simulating global politics via Model UN, integrating production, public opinion, etc.
If you are interested in the subject of air-naval operations I highly recommend Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (now in its third edition). It is the book for learning and understanding naval operations.