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The Chinese Navy's Development During 8 Years Of Obama's Sequestration of the US Navy

  • The Chinese Navy's Development During 8 Years Of Obama's Sequestration of the US Navy

By Capt Joseph R. John, June  4,  2018: Op Ed # 390

The below listed Op Ed, by Admiral James A. Lyons, Jr. USNA ’52. USN (Ret), discusses how the US Navy could counter China’s blue water navy, and oppose China’s plan to control the South China Sea.  Over the last 10 years, China has developed a technically advanced blue water Navy whose goal is to be able to defeat the US Navy with conventional weapons; its rapid technology advances and ship building programs have been fueled by China’s theft of advanced weapons systems and ship designs from US corporations and the US Navy.  China’s long range goal is to become the dominate global naval power in the next decade.    


China’s plan is to expand its fleet to 351 ships, while the US Navy’s goal is to expand its fleet to 355 ships; Pentagon planners should not be planning parity with China, they should take a page out of President Reagan’s playbook, and develop a larger and more advanced US Navy than China’s Navy.  In addition to the Navy’s ship long range building program, it should modernize and recommission a certain number of ships in its reserve fleet.

Over the last 8 years, with no opposition from the Obama administration, China has created 4 artificial manmade island bases on rocky shoals, throughout the South China Sea.  China has developed and is implementing a strategic zone offensive plan for the South China Sea, and will most probably create additional artificial manmade island bases on rocky shoals.  Those island bases can’t be properly defended from a coordinated strike on all four bases at the same time by high flying stealth bombers and submarine launched cruise missiles.  There should never be a need for the US Marine Corps to execute four amphibious assaults to take control of those manmade island bases.

When China has 351 ships operating within the restricted area of the South China Sea, the US Navy will still be required to operate half of its fleet, or about 180 ships, in the vast Pacific and the Persian Gulf operating areas.  China will therefore have a numerically superior naval fleet operating in the South China Sea.  To ensure “Freedom Of The Seas”, the US Navy will be required to coordinate joint naval operations with the Navies of governments who must ensure free and open commercial transit through the South China Sea (Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam).

China’s newest destroyer, in reality a light cruiser, has shifted the balance of naval power in the Pacific to China’s advantage.  Its new advanced destroyer has over-the-horizon supersonic cruise missile technology; a missile fired from that destroyer will only provide a US Navy ship a response time of 15 to 30 seconds to counter the over the horizon supersonic cruise missile fired at it.  The US Navy will not have the technology to counter China’s over the horizon supersonic cruise missile threat until about 2025. China’s newest naval ships are on technological par with US Navy ships, excluding the superior technology of the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers, to China’s one aircraft carrier.

More worrisome than the development of the Chinese Navy’s technically advanced fleet, is the military discipline exhibited by the officers and crews aboard Chinese Naval ships.  In the last 10 years, the Chinese Navy has done an excellent job of training its, all male, fully manned, shipboard crews, into a heightened state of readiness and military discipline.  Compare that to how Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity has changed the character, make up, manning, readiness, and military discipline of shipboard crews in US Navy ships.  For 10 years, the US Navy has covered up serious shipboard manning and readiness problems.  The shipboard manning problems occurs just prior to 6 month deployments of US Navy ships.  Deploying Navy ships have experienced many married and single female crew members, requesting transfer to shore duty, just prior to deployment, because of their recent pregnancies.

The crews aboard US Navy ships are often required to deploy in reduced states of readiness.  The reduced manning results in fewer watch standing sections, less time for training, lack of military discipline, fatigue for being overworked, and a reduced state of readiness.  Those problems have been exposed by collision reports explaining what led up to US Navy ship’s collisions at sea and groundings.  Those collision reports also exposed the inadequate navigational procedures being followed by bridge and CIC watch standers, and the inability of the command to properly train watch standers because of excessive fatigue, which contributed to collisions and groundings.

Some of the examples of collisions at sea are as follows.  On August 21, 2017: ten sailors were killed when the USS John McCain (DDG-56), a guided missile destroyer, collided 50 miles east of Singapore with the ALNIC MC, a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker.  On June 17, 2017: seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), a guided missile destroyer, was broadsided off the coast of Singapore, by MV CRYSTAL, a Philippines-registered cargo ship.  On May 9, 2017: a 70 foot South Korean fishing boat collided on the port side of the USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), a guided missile cruiser, while the cruiser was conducting routine operations in international waters.  On Aug. 19, 2016: the USS Louisiana (SSBN-743), a ballistic missile submarine, and the USNS Eagleview (T-AGSE-3), a Military Sealift Command support vessel, collided off the Coast of Washington State, while conducting routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In the last 5 years, 90 Commanding Officers of US Navy ships have been relieved of command, because of collisions at sea, ships going aground, as a result of inappropriate sexual relations with a crew member (by both male and female commanding officers), and for other reasons brought about by complaints filed by crew members against Commanding Officers on the IG Hotline (posters on Navy bases outline the 4-step Hotline complaint procedure required to turn in senior officers).  In light of the fact that so many Commanding Officers are being continually relieved, Obama’s politically correct selection criteria for the selection of new female and male Commanding Officers, should be re-evaluated.

For 8 years, Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity has negatively affected the character, make up, military discipline, unit cohesiveness, training, unit moral, and “Combat Effectiveness” of members of the US Armed Forces.  The Cadets and Midshipmen matriculating at the five service academies have been indoctrinated in politically correct leadership techniques, and their “Honor Codes” been negatively affected by the Social Experiment On Diversity.  Honor Code violators are now being put through retraining programs (sometimes as many as three times), and violators are no longer being dismissed. 

Lt David Nartker, the US Naval Academy Class of 2011, surrendered his two heavily armed 49 foot riverine command patrol boats with 10 sailors in the Persian Gulf, to a single smaller and less armed Iranian speed boat “without a fight.”  Naval Academy Alumni still wonder how the Social Experiment On Diversity affected Lt Nartker's view of John Paul Jones’s doctrine of  “Don’t Give Up the Ship”, and would like to know how Lt Nartker's training permitted him to beg for forgiveness from his Iranian captors who forced him and his crew down to their knees. 

The leadership being provided in the US Navy by some of Obama’s politically correct, pre-screened Flag selectees, continue to drive Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity into the training of the fleet and at the US Naval Academy to this day.  Witness the celebration of Gay Pride Month at the Pentagon and on US Naval Bases, despite the fact that “military regulation” specifically prohibits promoting any political agendas on US Military installations. 

The military discipline exhibited by the officers and the all-male crews aboard Chinese Navy ships demostrate their heightened state of readiness, as they are not being hamstrung by Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity.  Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity continues to negatively affect the character, make up, military discipline, unit cohesiveness, training, unit moral, and “Combat Effectiveness” of the US Navy.  Admiral James Lyon’s below listed Op Ed discusses China’s Blue Water Navy.


Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John.  All Rights Reserved.  The material can only posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author.  It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author.  

China's aggressive, bullying tactics in the South China Sea

Admiral James A Lyons, Jr. USNA ’52. USN (Ret) former Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet

May 31, 2018

Countering China’s Blue Water Navy

Based on China’s massive military expansion over the last two decades, particularly the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Navy, their goal is clearly to challenge the U.S. Navy’s dominance, not only in the Western Pacific, but globally.  In a recent hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on 17 May 2018, that was clearly pointed out by two experts on the Chinese threat, Rick Fisher and Captain James Fanell, USN (ret). They explained how the Chinese Navy dramatically expanded from a coastal force to a global threat, capable of challenging the U.S. Navy’s dominant position in the Western Pacific today, and globally in the next decade. 

China’s aggressive, bullying tactics in the South China Sea

This new reality is particularly challenging, with the serious decline in our overall military capability and readiness, as a result of the Obama administration’s disastrous sequestration mandate.  As a result we now have the smallest Navy since prior to World War I.   Nowhere is the Chinese challenge more serious than in the Western Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea.  Hegemony over the South China Sea is essential for China to achieve its goal of conquering the free and democratic island of Taiwan.  However, the South China Sea is an international strategic waterway through which over $5 trillion worth of commerce transits on an annual basis.  The South China Sea remaining free from the threats of China’s Communist regime is critical for not only world commerce but also for our allies Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and certainly Taiwan. 

China has continued its aggressive and bullying tactics by creating several artificial islands on contested rocks and shoals in the South China Sea.  They have built an air and naval base on Woody Island in the Paracel Group, and also have built new large naval, air, and missile bases on Fiery Cross Reef, Subic Reef, and Mischief Reef.  There are now three completed runways of approximately 10,000 feet that can accommodate about 24 aircrafts each.  As Rick Fisher pointed out to the Committee, reports in May 2018 indicate that China has now deployed 400-Km range YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles as well as 200-Km range HQ-9B fourth generation surface-to-air missile (SAMs), which would allow the PLA to deny access to most military aircraft as well as commercial airlines and shipping traffic.  These man-made islands, in effect, are stationary aircraft carriers.  The good news is that since they can’t move, they are vulnerable. 

The islands were militarized in spite of a declaration by China’s President Xi Jinping on 25 September 2015, at the White House, saying that that he would not militarize these islands.  The double talking should not come as a surprise.  As a result, China has been uninvited to participate in this year’s bi-annual RIMPAC multinational naval exercise in the Pacific.  They never should have been invited in the first place as it was a form of “appeasement!”

As Fisher pointed out, having built this series of extended bases in the Spratly Island region with no serious opposition, China can plan much greater island-building efforts for the future.   Make no mistake, China’s goal is to exercise hegemony over the First Island chain, which includes Taiwan, and eventually, out to the Second Island chain which includes Guam, our key Western Pacific base.  Should China be successful in defeating Taiwan, it would be a great strategic win as it would provide greater access for China’s nuclear ballistic submarine fleet to the Pacific open waters. 

China’s “Belt and Road” initiative in the Indian Ocean

Likewise, China’s “Belt and Road” initiative in the Indian Ocean, under the guise of developing commercial ports, is providing cover for the development and use of facilities by the Chinese Navy in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.  China has also reached into Latin America by attempting to reignite the Falklands War.  Fortunately, with a change in the Argentine government that initiative has failed. 

The Trump administration’s task, in confronting the Chinese totalitarian threat, is similar to what President Reagan faced in confronting an aggressive Soviet Union in 1981.  President Trump has taken a page out of the Reagan playbook by embarking on an aggressive Navy ship building program, but regretfully it is only planned to build the Navy back to 355 ships.  To meet our worldwide commitments and raise the deterrence equation, the Navy needs 400 ships.  With our reduced domestic shipbuilding capacity it would take more than two decades to achieve that goal.  Regretfully, time is not on our side. China will be ready to move more aggressively by 2025.  Therefore, to achieve the desired number of ships, we need to think outside the box.  We should consider contracting with our allies for constructing ship hulls or more complete frigate-size ships.  We also need to reactivate ships from the Navy’s Reserve Fleet and update them with modern equipment.  It’s called the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program.

We also need new strategic thinking with our allies in the Western Pacific to counter the rising Chinese threat.  The Trump administration has made a move in that direction by calling for Australia, Japan, India, and the U.S. to form a “Quad.”  This is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be expanded into a Pacific-type NATO organization which should include all our allies including India.  Taiwan should initially be made an associate member.  In that regard, Taiwan needs to be equipped with sufficient defense equipment by no later than 2020 to provide a capability to prevent any successful invasion by China.  A preplanning staff needs to be established on Guam as soon as possible with all member countries participating.  We must quickly raise the deterrence equation by not only increasing our force levels, but also by developing aggressive exercises in contested areas.  Time is of the essence.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.