In "Calculating China's Advances in the South China Sea" (Naval War College Review, Spring 1998), Lieutenant Michael Studeman provides a refreshingly comprehensive analysis of the nationalistic and economic forces behind China's push into the South China Sea.
His article helps explain why China has laid the groundwork for a military modernization that emphasizes improved naval capabilities, including the purchase of newer submarines and anti-ship cruise missiles. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) also is focusing on ways to achieve "crippling attacks" on an enemy's information systems, and is pursuing anti-satellite, anti-radar, and anti-stealth techniques designed to complicate the United States' ability to operate close to the Asian littoral.
The sea lanes that run through the South China Sea carry one-half trillion dollars of long-haul interregional sea-borne shipments each year. Overall, 25 percent of worldwide merchandise and 56 percent of northern Arabian Gulf oil pass through these sea lanes.
Although the PLA Navy currently lacks the ability to sustain interdiction operations in Southeast Asia's sea lanes, China's strategic penetration of the region and PLA modernization could lead to such a capability in the future. That is why the United States must maintain its military-technological lead over all potential adversaries in the region and a robust forward presence. This means investing in advanced naval surface and especially undersea warfare capabilities like the New Attack Submarine, along with theater ballistic missile defenses like the Airborne Laser.
Whether you attribute China's advances to a "defensive" strategy as Lieutenant Studeman suggests, or an offensive one, as many of China's neighbors interpret them, a superior U.S. military presence continues to be a critical component of regional stability.
Chief Executive Officer
"To Bomb Or Not to Bomb"
The Spring 1998 issue of the Naval War College Review has come to my hand, and I have had the chance to read Dennis Giangreco's review entitled "To Bomb Or Not to Bomb." You should know that this review received wide exposure and was read with much interest by those of us who served in the Air Force in World War II.
This was a masterly take-down of some publications that have been used as tilting forces toward the revisionist point of view vis-a-vis United States military operations in World War II. The shallowness of the revisionist research is fully exposed in the review of the books by Newman, Chappell, and Skates.
A fair number of us did battle with the Smithsonian over the planned exhibit at the Air and Space Museum, which proposed to use the Enola Gay as a tool for drawing visitors to an exhibit that was dreadfully flawed in its original concept. We saw the dismal research on which the exhibit originally proposed was based. Mr. Giangreco effectively brings this shallow research to light in his review. It is stimulating to us to see this piece published in such a creditable journal as yours.
William A. Rooney
The African Crisis Response Force
I read Captain Derek J. Christian's article (Naval War College Review, Summer 1998) on the African Crisis Response Force with interest. Having served in two operations in West Africa in 1996, I understand the need to empower African nations to take charge of crises in the region. I believe African nations will be more receptive to taking ownership of their crises if we train them not only in dealing with armed insurgencies but to take possession of the humanitarian disasters that usually follow. African military personnel need to be trained in field medicine, preventive medicine, "buddy aid," and primary medical care not only to care for their troops serving on a peacemaking or peacekeeping mission but also to deal with the flux of refugees that overwhelm a neighboring nation. …