The crisis in Ukraine is not only affecting Europe but also indirectly Asia. There are fears that China will use the Russian-Ukrainian problem to step up its invasion of Taiwan.
There are signs that a new triangle is forming between China, Russia, and Iran. The trouble they have stirred up in East Asia, Europe, and the greater Middle East objectively includes a mutual response that could create a chain reaction.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Elbridge Colby, an expert on China’s military security policy, believes that if a crisis breaks out in Ukraine, U.S. will shift its attention to Europe and leave a gap in Asia for China.
On the contrary, if an incident breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. will have no time to care about Europe. However, the actual development will depend on how the U.S. acts.
While China sends warplanes to Taiwan, Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops with Ukraine. The U.S. has not shifted its focus to Europe in response, sending only a carrier strike group and more than 2,000 troops to Europe.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday, Feb. 11 U.S. believes a Russian military incursion into Ukraine could be imminent. Any campaign would begin with an aerial bombardment followed by a ground invasion that imperiled escape routes.
He said, “Any Americans in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event, in the next 24 to 48 hours. If you stay, you are assuming risk, with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and no prospect of a US military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”
From Feb. 3 to 7, the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, along with multiple components of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, conducted the Noble Fusion military training near the Luzon Strait and Miyako Strait in the Philippine Sea.
The training involved a carrier strike group, two amphibious alert groups, U.S. Marine Corps expeditionary forces, and Japanese amphibious rapid deployment brigades, totaling thousands of troops and nearly 100 strikes and transport combat aircraft.
The training hugged the coast of Taiwan and demonstrated a strong sea and land attack posture. Lethal maritime blockade operations, amphibious landing operations, and the contest for sea and air control demonstrated U.S. and Japanese forces’ combined multi-domain strike capability along the coast and in the deep sea.
F-35B and AV-8B Harrier fighters from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex and Japanese Marines from Iwakuni, F-35C and FA-18E Super Hornets from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and F-15C fighters from the US Air Force’s 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, a total of five fighter types, each conducted a Live-fire attack training. To support the fighters’ continuous combat operations, KC-135s of the 18th USAF Wing and KC-130J air refueling aircraft of the 12th Air Force in Japan, which took off from the Japanese base, conducted night air refueling for the fighters participating in the ground attack.
Supported by solid airpower, the U.S. Marines conducted landing operations, demonstrating the ability to seize critical terrain in contested areas. The US Army P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and E-2D early warning aircraft supported the procedure.
Colonel Michael Brennan, commander of the 79th Joint Task Force, said, “The most powerful tool in the U.S. military is a Navy-USMC cohesive, joint team. We do not doubt that we will execute like this tomorrow should we need to defend ourselves or be asked to help defend allies or partners in the region.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)-led annual Cope North 22, a large-scale, multilateral military training, is underway in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The training takes place from early to mid-February. The U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with more than 3,500 pilots and soldiers and about 130 combat aircraft, participate in the training.
These air operations use the Agile Combat (ACE) concept to train forces to respond quickly when supply chains, depots, and bases have an attack.
Logistics support tailored to operational requirements is an essential part of the U.S. military’s emerging concept of joint warfare, which will ensure that U.S. forces can operate in the air, on land, at sea, in space, and cyberspace at the same time.
Guam, positioned in the second island chain, becomes a significant logistical dependency as U.S. forward deployments approach the first island chain. As a result, Guam might become a target for a Chinese strike.
The importance and capabilities of Guam’s Anderson Air Force Base as a combat readiness support base in a possible future conflict in the Taiwan Strait, according to BRIGADIER GENERAL JEREMY T. SLOANE, commander of the US Air Force’s 36th Wing, are critical to the U.S. in countering an attack by significant adversaries.
In the Western Pacific, the U.S. military maintains a standing deployment of two carrier strike groups and two amphibious alert groups combined with Japan’s Izumo-class light carriers, Izumo and Kaga, carrying F-35B fighter jets.
These can create a strike force of hundreds of fighter jets and tens of thousands of troops in the waters around Taiwan at any time.
The U.S. spends between $700 and $800 billion a year on defense. In terms of numbers, this is more than twice the combined military spending of China and Russia, not including America’s wealthy Western and Asia-Pacific allies such as Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. Further, the end of the War on Terror has also freed U.S. from the financial issue.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is using Operation Noble Fusion to tell China that while the crisis in Ukraine is receiving serious attention, Beijing had better not see it as an opportunity to attack Taiwan.
Japan’s southern islands are adjacent to Taiwan, and the islands could provide an important strategic area for maritime forces that could powerfully challenge, deter and contain a China invasion.
Deterring a Chinese amphibious assault on Taiwan requires quick, close-range responses. This explains why the U.S. and Japanese warships are conducting so many forward operations in the Luzon Strait, Miyako Strait, and Okinawa, virtually immediately adjacent to the waters off Taiwan.