US think tank Rand in the summer of 2016 released a report on “War with China”. Premeditated war between the United States is very unlikely according to Rand but both nation’s militaries have plans to fight a war if it comes. Excerpts from the report below:
As Chinese anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) capabilities improve, the United States can no longer be so certain that war would follow its plan and lead to decisive victory.
Technological advances in the ability to target opposing forces are creating conditions of conventional counterforce, whereby each side has the means to strike and degrade the other’s forces and, therefore, an incentive to do so promptly, if not first. This implies fierce early exchanges, with steep military losses on both sides, until one gains control. At present, Chinese losses would greatly exceed U.S. losses, and the gap would only grow as fighting persisted. But, by 2025, that gap could be much smaller. Even then, however, China could not be confident of gaining military advantage, which suggests the possibility of a prolonged and destructive, yet inconclusive, war. In that event, nonmilitary factors — economic costs, internal political effects, and international reactions — could become more important.
Both sides would suffer large military losses in a severe conflict. In 2015, U.S. losses could be a relatively small fraction of forces committed, but still significant; Chinese losses could be much heavier than U.S. losses and a substantial fraction of forces committed.
This gap in losses will shrink as Chinese A2AD improves. By 2025, U.S. losses could range from significant to heavy; Chinese losses, while still very heavy, could be somewhat less than in 2015, owing to increased degradation of U.S. strike capabilities.
China’s A2AD will make it increasingly difficult for the United States to gain military-operational dominance and victory, even in a long war.
…a war would harm both economies, damage to China’s would be far worse.
Because much of the Western Pacific would become a war zone, China’s trade with the region and the rest of the world would decline substantially.
China’s loss of seaborne energy supplies would be especially damaging.
A long conflict could expose China to internal political divisions.
Japan’s increased military activity in the region could have a considerable influence on military operations.
U.S. and Chinese political leaders alike should have military options other than immediate strikes to destroy opposing forces.
U.S. leaders should have the means to confer with Chinese leaders and contain a conflict before it gets out of hand.
The United States should reduce the effect of Chinese A2AD by investing in more-survivable force platforms (e.g., submarines) and in counter-A2AD (e.g., theater missiles).
The United States should conduct contingency planning with key allies, especially Japan.
The United States should ensure that the Chinese are specifically aware of the potential for catastrophic results even if a war is not lost militarily.
The United States should improve its ability to sustain intense military operations.
U.S. leaders should develop options to deny China access to war-critical commodities and technologies in the event of war.
The United States should undertake measures to mitigate the interruption of critical products from China.
Additionally, the U.S. Army should invest in land-based A2AD capabilities, encourage and enable East Asian partners to mount strong defense, improve interoperability with partners (especially Japan), and contribute to the expansion and deepening of Sino-U.S. military-to-military understanding and cooperation to reduce dangers of misperception and miscalculation.
Comment: It must be remembered that there is a doctrine of unrestricted warfare on the Chinese side including financial warfare to subvert banking systems and stock markets. Drug warfare is the Chinese plan to attack the fabric of US society by flooding the market with illicit drugs. Psychological and media warfare are other weapons in the Chinese arsenal. Last but not least the Chinese could unleash man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters. There is also a belief in China that it can take larger losses in life due to a much larger population than the United States.