Let’s assume if this scenario is ever going to happen, if United states of America and China are at war, what’s going to happen.
When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviet Union’s military leadership had been ruined by a series of purges, and its soldiers were mostly conscripts. The Germans, on the other hand, had been fighting for two years, had advantages in manpower and quality of weapons, and were poised to sweep the Soviets.
Four years later…
There is far more to warfare than experience. A war with China would have the largest military in the world squaring off against its most advanced, across the largest ocean on the planet to fight on its largest continent.
Also, before we write off an “experience gap” between the US and Chinese forces, let’s consider that the US’ battle experience since 1991 has been in asymmetrical warfare. The US has not fought a large-scale, sustained conventional war since 1953. In fact, and for example, so much effort has been put into training for asymmetrical warfare and counter-insurgency tactics, and the US military hard-wired for rapid force deployment, that the US Marines have effectively lost their historic capacity to conduct amphibious assaults.
That’s not me being an armchair general, that’s based on actual generals’ assessments:
“We haven’t done this in about a decade. Our experience level is extremely low. . . . I’ve got to tell you, I had forgotten how complex and how challenging large-scale amphibious operations are.”
-Major General Melvin Spiese, Commander, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade
“The reality is, is that to get Marines around effectively, they require all types of lift. They require the big amphibious ships, but they also require connectors (meaning landing craft and other amphibious vehicles). The lift is the enabler that makes that happen, so we wouldn’t be able to [successfully carry out a contested amphibious assault without additional resources].”
-Admiral Samuel Locklear III, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command as said here.
And while China doesn’t have a blue water navy to rival the US’ – and its existing fleet isn’t nearly as sophisticated – the US Navy hasn’t fought a large, coordinated naval campaign since 1945. While it could probably take on the Chinese fleet head-to-head, China has invested in a number of anti-ship and area-denial weapons that could keep the US on a less aggressive footing than many would otherwise expect. For example, it maintains several hundred mine-laying ships that could make US navigation in its waters extremely hazardous and slow-going.
For the land war, should it happen, it’s doubtful that the Chinese Army would melt away. With a major numbers advantage over the US, they’re likely to stand and fight. Keep in mind, too, that in previous engagements, the US has had a friendly, neighboring or near-by nation from which to launch its attack. I would seriously doubt that, other than Japan, there are many of China’s neighbors who would welcome a sudden swelling of US military might that would make them prime targets for Chinese incursions.
Moreover, China has maintained a large force of main battle tanks. American armoured divisions might have been the poster child for our Blitz in Desert Storm in 1991, the ground war was a matter of days and depended on overwhelming air superiority. The US has dramatically scaled down its armoured warfare focus since the end of the Cold War, most of the tankers from that era have retired, and air superiority over China is far from guaranteed. China also has numerical superiority when it comes to artillery.
All this is to say that the US would have a very, very difficult time getting its superior battle technology and well-trained infantry into China should the war escalate from naval combat to a true invasion.
Recognizing their technological deficit, China has put significant attention on battle strategies to deny the US superiority in its airspace – and even in space, its has laid the groundwork for a very real anti-satellite and cyber warfare deterrent.
And let’s not ignore the fact that China’s ICBMs, including new ones being developed for mobile platforms, have the potential to strike the continental US, and so it would not be outside the realm of possibility that, faced with invasion of its home soil, China could issue a very credible strike warning.
You don’t need heaps of combat experience to press a button and kill millions.
Now, having skimmed over the difficulties the US would face in combating China on its own turf – and that’s exactly what it would be doing, as China poses no comparable, conventional military threat to the US mainland – it does have more experience in training its troops and war planners than China, and perhaps more importantly with integrating its military systems with those of its allies. The US would very likely prevail in one-on-one combat.
The cost to the US, however, would be enormous, with casualties and spending not seen since WWII – and recall that it was the threat of severe casualties and prolonged, costly war that drove the US towards dropping the atomic bombs on Japan; and I’m sure they’d want to avoid a nuclear exchange.
US war planners, then, would be under enormous pressure to come up with a strategy that would force rapid Chinese capitulation. The longer China holds out – something it has plenty of historical experience doing – the greater its chances of overall victory.
This is written by Carter Moore on Quora.