Pentagon war planners can envision a conflict with China starting in any number of ways.
For example, they fear a scenario that might involve a mass of Chinese military forces posturing along China’s coast near Taiwan and the aggressive reorientation of Chinese missile systems that would start setting off alarms in Washington, D.C.
Top military leaders in Indo-Pacific Command would brace for reports of cyber attacks, satellites shutting down, vessels crowding and swarming various ships and ports across the South China Sea.
More than a dozen experts contacted by Military Times described how this hypothetical nightmare could erupt fully, perhaps as Chinese missiles start hitting targets in Taiwan. A conflict could spin out of control quickly as sensors across the region light up with simultaneous events, stretching the United States and its allies in every imaginable domain all at once.
A Pentagon annual report on China released Tuesday noted the military capabilities that the United States and its allies might have to counter, should such a scenario occur.
Among China’s assets is the world’s largest navy, with a battle force of 350 ships that includes 130 major surface combatants. By comparison, the U.S. Navy has 296 deployable ships. China’s ground-based missiles have a range of 500km range, compared to the 300-km range for U.S. ground-based missiles in theater.