General highlights China's military advantages, disadvantages

By David Vergun, DOD NewsOctober 13, 2023

WASHINGTON — There are three things that the Chinese military has that the U.S. military, allies and partners in the region do not have, said Army Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific.

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Infantry Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division participate in Exercise Super Garuda Shield 2023 at 5th Marine Training Center in East Java, Indonesia, Sept. 6, 2023.
Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Infantry Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division participate in Exercise Super Garuda Shield 2023 at 5th Marine Training Center in East Java, Indonesia, Sept. 6, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Wyatt Moore) VIEW ORIGINAL

"They have interior lines," he said. He noted that they're just 100 miles from Taiwan, and they have anti-access, area-denial means to keep opposing forces at a distance — such as missiles, aircraft and ships, as well as cyber and space capabilities.

"The second thing they have is mass," he said, meaning they have a very large military force.

"The third thing they have is magazine depth," he said, which would include large quantities of stand-off munitions.

Flynn spoke Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, on a panel about land power in the Indo-Pacific region at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting & Exposition in Washington.

The goal of U.S. forces along with allies in the region is to take time and space away from China to deny them key terrain "and to keep our physical presence forward with hard power to deter a war from happening," he said.

Soldiers from Australia’s defense force train in front of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during Exercise Talisman Sabre in Queensland, Australia, July 22, 2023. The helicopter is assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Warhawk, Battle Group Griffin.
Soldiers from Australia’s defense force train in front of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during Exercise Talisman Sabre in Queensland, Australia, July 22, 2023. The helicopter is assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Warhawk, Battle Group Griffin. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL

"The goal is no war. We already have a war in Europe. We have another war that just started this past week in the Middle East. We do not need another war in Asia. That is the land powers' contribution to the joint force to prevent that from happening," Flynn said.

The anti-access, area-denial arsenal that the Chinese military possesses "is primarily designed to defeat our air power and maritime power. And, secondarily, it's designed to degrade, deny and disrupt our space and cyber capabilities. It's not, however, designed to find, fix and finish distributed, mobile, fixed, semi-fixed, reloadable, lethal and non-lethal land power," he said.

"We present a dilemma to them that they did not design into the A2/AD arsenal that they built. And this has proven out in war game after war game after war game," he said, referring to anti-access, area-denial.

The general went on to speak about the importance of the U.S. and allied military presence in the region to deter Chinese aggression.

Army judge advocate general officers attend a briefing with Japanese government officials and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during Yama Sakura 83 exercise at Camp Kengun, Japan, Dec. 9, 2022.
Army judge advocate general officers attend a briefing with Japanese government officials and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during Yama Sakura 83 exercise at Camp Kengun, Japan, Dec. 9, 2022. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin Nye) VIEW ORIGINAL

While air and sea power are crucial, land power is, as well, he said. Flynn added that militaries in the region are composed of anywhere from 65% to 80% ground forces.

"Land power and the armies in the Indo Pacific are an absolute central part of defending [nations'] national sovereignty and protecting their territorial integrity," he said.

Flynn highlighted steps the U.S., allies and partners are taking to deter China's aggression, including increased bilateral and multilateral training exercises, the U.S. Army's new training center in the region, and nations beefing up their defense spending and working together on improving interoperability.