The ability of the United States to extend deterrence to key allies such as Australia and Japan, and to partners such as Taiwan, depends on two considerations. First, there are political considerations, including the credibility of the United States to honor its commitments and willpower to incur the inherent risks of other states to provide the US nuclear umbrella. Second, it requires sufficient military capabilities—the conventional and nuclear forces of the United States—to defeat the enemy’s military objectives or inflict unacceptable punishment on the enemy.
The Biden administration has publicly released three major policy documents: the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and the Missile Defense Review (MDR).
The NDS intends to promote a strategy focused on China. According to the NDS, this requires discouraging China from considering aggression as a viable means of advancing goals that threaten US interests. The document states that the United States will deter China by leveraging existing and emerging force capabilities, posture, and actions to enhance denial and by strengthening resilience, the ability to stand, fight through, and recover quickly from disruption. The NDS and the NPR realized the benefits that will come from the modernization of the nuclear triad and command, control and communications (NC3) systems.
At the same time, the administration has stated in the NPR that it will cancel the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) and retire the B-83-1 multi-megaton gravity bomb.
Additionally, the US Air Force plans to replace the F-15 fleet at Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa with a rotating force, which will likely include the deployment of F-22s from Alaska, after the F-15s are gone. However, this raises concerns about gaps in force structure and exactly what forces will be present on the island and when those forces will be. This move should only be made if there was no capability gap and the F-15s would be permanently replaced by the right number of aircraft with greater capability than the F-15. As it stands, this step reduces the ability of the United States to offer a traditional deterrent to China in the Indo-Pacific.
The Biden administration is weakening the ability of the United States to credibly extend conventional or nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.
There are three major problems with the Biden administration’s strategy documents. First, the modernization of the triad, which has been underway for the past decade, is assumed to be sufficient to meet the US’s extended deterrence obligations. The US arsenal will contain only a small number of tactical nuclear weapons and no theater systems. Basically, and rejecting the force posture of the Cold War when significant capabilities were spent on tactical and theater nuclear weapons, there are no divisions on the escalation ladder for the United States. Therefore, Washington will have to move from conventional war to a strategic nuclear exchange. This gives China every reason to expand its tactical and theater systems, as well as its conventional systems, to signal to the United States a willingness to move towards tactical nuclear weapons if its conventional weapons are lost, as Vladimir Putin is signaling now with Russian. escalating threats through the use of tactical nuclear weapons to end the war – “escalating to de-escalation” as identified by Russian doctrine. China would also have the options of not escalating the United States to the level of theater, keeping a nuclear conflict local and leaving the decision to the United States to escalate to a limited or major exchange between the two countries’ strategic arsenals. Moreover, the United States also faces Russia, so the strategic nuclear arsenal of the United States is already taxed.
Second, these documents assume that the US has time, that the US can wait while its strategic systems are modernized and that the conventional right force study is provided to prevent it —the enemy will not act before that. In fact, the Chinese regime has said, at the 20th Party Congress in October recently, that the United States is their enemy, and they are determined to defeat Taiwan. They have reason to act before the triad is modernized and the US and Taiwan can deploy the right force structure for their respective forces. Therefore, if the enemy of the US were to act according to his time frame, believing that it is better to act now, immediately or soon, rather than later to bring about the changes he seeks in world politics, then the United States is facing new. the window of vulnerability. The Chinese regime has an incentive to use coercive measures against Japan, India, the Philippines or Taiwan now when the US is still behind, rather than many years in the future.
Third, the troika document was a rare and wasted opportunity to signal to the world that the United States will meet its expanded deterrence requirements by explaining what steps the administration was taking to meet the serious threat. . Each could explain the threat from the Chinese regime and what the US defense strategy was to match and defeat the threat, with additional details provided on nuclear issues in the NPR and on ballistic missile defenses, hypersonic and cruising in MDR. Each could use the lessons of the Cold War when the extended US deterrence worked under difficult circumstances. Instead, the administration has produced reports that point to US weakness, uncertainty, and a lack of strategic focus on the threat. While the threat from China is growing, the Biden administration is weakening US military capabilities. Xi has expressed his victory at the 20th Party Congress, he has expressed his intention to replace the United States and conquer Taiwan, and his attitude of weakness could invite the US to attack and cause the failure of the US expanded barrier.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.