War game suggests Chinese invasion of Taiwan would fail at a huge cost to US, Chinese and Taiwanese militaries
Updated 6:45 AM EST, Mon January 9, 2023
A war over Taiwan could leave a victorious US military in as crippled a state as the Chinese forces it defeated.
At the end of the conflict, at least two US aircraft carriers would lie at the bottom of the Pacific and China’s modern navy, which is the largest in the world, would be in “shambles.”
CNN reviewed an advance copy of the report – titled “The First Battle of the Next War” – on the two dozen war scenarios run by CSIS, which said the project was necessary …
.. because previous government and private war simulations have been too narrow or too opaque to give the public and policymakers a true look at how conflict across the Taiwan Strait might play out.
“There’s no unclassified war game out there looking at the US-China conflict,” said Mark Cancian, one of the three project leaders and a senior adviser at CSIS. “Of the games that are unclassified, they’re usually only done once or twice.”
“The United States and Japan lose dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of service members. Such losses would damage the US global position for many years,” the report said.
In most scenarios, the US Navy lost two aircraft carriers and 10 to 20 large surface combatants. Approximately 3,200 US troops would be killed in three weeks of combat, nearly half of what the US lost in two decades of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“China also suffers heavily. Its navy is in shambles, the core of its amphibious forces is broken, and tens of thousands of soldiers are prisoners of war,” it said. The report estimated China would suffer about 10,000 troops killed and lose 155 combat aircraft and 138 major ships
The scenarios paint a bleak future for Taiwan, even if a Chinese invasion doesn’t succeed. “While Taiwan’s military is unbroken, it is severely degraded and left to defend a damaged economy on an island without electricity and basic services,” the report.
The island’s army would suffer about 3,500 casualties, and all 26 destroyers and frigates in its navy will be sunk, the report said.
Japan is likely to lose more than 100 combat aircraft and 26 warships while US military bases on its home territory come under Chinese attack, the report found.
But CSIS said it did not want its report to imply a war over Taiwan “is inevitable or even probable.” “The Chinese leadership might adopt a strategy of diplomatic isolation, gray zone pressure, or economic coercion against Taiwan,” it said.
Dan Grazier, a senior defense policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), sees an outright Chinese invasion of Taiwan as extremely unlikely.
Such a military operation would immediately disrupt the imports and exports upon which the Chinese economy relies for its very survival, Grazier told CNN, and interrupting this trade risks the collapse of the Chinese economy in short order.
“The Chinese are going to do everything they can in my estimation to avoid a military conflict with anybody,” Grazier said. To challenge the United States for global dominance, they’ll use industrial and economic power instead of military force.