Strategy


China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy sailors on review. Image: Getty

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy sailors on review. Image: Getty

The Naval War College Review Spring, 2009 issue  published an interesting article titled, “Gunboats for China’s New “Grand Canals,” written by Andrew Erickson and Lyle Goldstein, whom are research faculty in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the U.S Naval War College.

This article explores China’s “military capacity to protect its long and increasingly vital maritime oil supply lines.”

The authors believe “it is time to consider seriously the prospect of future PLAN missions to defend Chinese interests not only in East Asia but also beyond.”

Informative highlights over China’s oil security and the PLAN’s role in securing it:

  • In 2007, approximately 85 percent of Chinese oil imports passed through the Strait of Malacca;
  • Defense of oil SLOCs [sea lines of communication] may become a driver in future PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] evolution;
  • Gunboats were once used to invade China in the name of protecting international commerce. Now China is itself acquiring powerful warships, but its precise reasons for doing so remain unclear;
  • China’s 2008 Defense White Paper for the first time treats the ground forces as a distinct service equivalent to the Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery, suggesting that they are becoming less dominant within the military and that the PLAN may grow correspondingly over time in funding and mission scope;
  • The PLA Navy’s subsequent deployment of two destroyers and a supply ship to the Gulf of Aden is an unprecedented move that may presage a more active Chinese presence near global maritime energy routes.

Erickson and Goldstein delve into voluminous Chinese naval and maritime affairs literature for an understanding of China’s mindset into advancing maritime oil security essential to securing their economic growth.

They direct attention to “Chinese naval and maritime analysts view that PLAN’s capabilities for protecting China’s long oil SLOCs are minimal at present.”

Both authors agree on a need for “cooperation to blunt nonstate threats to maritime oil shipments can help build trust and reduce the potential for state-on-state naval confrontations over energy-supply security.”

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In last month’s Weekly Standard, Harvard criminologist William Stuntz advocated a surge-like strategy for a police force to combat violence in U.S. inner cities.

He opines:

The Iraq surge followed the opposite strategy: The goal was to get less bang for the buck, to use more soldiers to produce less violence. It worked. Post-Saddam Iraq is not, it turns out, ungovernable. All it needed was what any ruler needs in order to rule crime-ridden territory: armed men in uniform standing guard on violent street corners, in numbers enough to reassure local residents that they can walk the streets in peace.

That sounds like–and is–a job for a well-trained, well-funded force. The war in Iraq bears more than a passing resemblance to the battle against violent street gangs in the roughest parts of American cities. The tactics Petraeus used to win that war are eerily similar to the tactics the best police chiefs use to rein in gang violence. But better tactics alone cannot do the job. In Boston as in Baghdad, those tactics work only if the police forces that use them have enough personnel: lots of police boots on the most violent ground.

Today, that condition is not satisfied. Most American cities are underpoliced, many of them seriously so. Instead of following the Bush/Petraeus strategy, the United States has sought to control crime by using small police forces to punish as many criminals as possible. As all those who have even a passing familiarity with contemporary crime statistics know, that approach–call it “efficient punishment”–does not work. Like the Army in pre-surge Iraq, the nation’s criminal justice system is in a state of crisis. America needs another surge, this one on home territory.

The Agitator blog argues that Chicago isn’t Baghdad. U.S. cities aren’t battlefields, and the cops who patrol city streets aren’t soldiers. Residents of high-crime areas aren’t potential insurgents or enemy combatants. They’re American citizens with constitutional rights. Cops and soldiers have decidedly different missions, and it’s dangerous to conflate them.

H/T: The Daily Dish

The Spring 2009 issue of the Naval War College Review is now online.  The following titles have been published: The Navy’s Changing Force Paradigm; The Heart of an Officer: Joint, Interagency, and International Operations and Navy Career Development; Gunboats for China’s New “Grand Canals”? Probing the Intersection of Beijing’s Naval and Oil Security Policies; The Naval Battle of Paris; The Fundamentals of Strategy: The Legacy of Henry Eccles.

[H/T: @NavalWarCollege]