I live in Annapolis, Maryland. This is the home of the US Naval Academy and also the home of the best selling military thriller writer the late Tom Clancy.
Clancy’s first and many think his best novel, I disagree and think his best is Red Storm Rising, is The Hunt for Red October.
Talk of that submarine adventure yarn has been on the lips of a lot of swabos in this community, as tensions rise between us, the Chicoms, and Taiwan. Especially after Biden publicly committed us to Taiwan’s defense.
According to Forbes magazine, “A successful U.S. submarine campaign could help bring the war to a swift end, preserving Taiwan’s independence and blunting China’s global ambitions. A failed undersea campaign, by contrast, could invite Chinese dominion over Taiwan and the whole Western Pacific region.
Win or lose, the U.S. Navy should brace for heavy losses. Even a victorious USN sub fleet could suffer staggering losses in battle with the Chinese navy around Taiwan.”
The thinking until very recently was that we and the Free Chinese could put up a good fight. But we could only delay a Chicom victory because we didn’t have the resources in the region to win. Also, that we may not have the geopolitical will to engage in a naval shooting war with the Red Chinese.
But different signals are coming out of the Pentagon these days. Perhaps to distract from his domestic woes Biden, in Wag the Dog fashion, may take on the Chinese in the Taiwan Strait. But, the cost?
Analysts Mark Cancian, Matthew Cancian and Eric Heginbotham have concluded, “Each US submarine would sink two large amphibious vessels (and an equal number of decoys and escorts) over the course of a 3.5-day turn.”
Back to Forbes, “The 40 or 50 US submarines would organize in squadrons of four boats apiece and deploy to U.S. bases in Guam, at Wake Island and in Yokosuka, Japan. One squadron should be on station in the narrow Taiwan Strait when the first Chinese rockets fall and the invasion fleet sets sail…the U.S. undersea force, which today numbers 53 nuclear-powered attack and cruise-missile submarines, could lose a quarter of its boats and thousands of sailors… In the end, perhaps a dozen or more American submarines would lay wrecked at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, radioactive tombs for as many as 2,000 submariners.”
This loss of American seapower, as we also pointed out in a recent piece, gives the Norks and Russians, not to mention the Iranians, opportunities they currently only dream about.
Combined with a coordinated attack on the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain by the Iranians, we could be looking at an American naval force as depleted and far stretched as we experienced after Pearl Harbor.
Thus, we better act now by deployment and deterrence rather than walk into a showdown that could leave even victory dangerous and hollow. As Sun-Tzu observed about two thousand years ago, the ultimate proof of generalship is the ability to defeat an opponent without fighting.