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Airpower Puts US in Strong Position of Deterrence Against China: Security Expert

US F-22 stealth jets intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian Su-35 fighter jets off the coast of Alaska, according to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command, on May 20, 2019. (Sr. Master Sgt. Thomas Menegiun/DOD)

U.S. airpower is our main deterrence against China, according to Stephen Bryen, Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy.

“So far as U.S. airpower is concerned, I think the U.S. Air Force, and the Marines aviation, as well as naval aviation … is better than anything the Chinese have … And I feel very confident that we [would] do very well against the Chinese Air Force,” Bryen told “China in Focus” on NTD, the sister media outlet of the Epoch Times, on Jan. 27.

According to a 2021 report from The National Interest, China’s airpower still lagged behind the United States in terms of stealth fighters, tankers, and helicopter fleets.

“So if we commit airpower, then we have a real good chance to stabilize any unfolding situation in that region. If we don’t commit airpower, then it becomes very much more difficult,” he added.

However, according to Bryen, the United States has not updated its equipment as rapidly as possible despite the fact that “a lot of our equipment has been worn out by these wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria over the years.

Step Up Support to Taiwan

In order to effectively push back China, the expert said that the United States should “build up our presence in the region, [and] restore some of our capabilities in Okinawa, in Japan.”

Bryen further called for enhancing support to Taiwan, especially Taiwan’s Air Force, which he said “is a critical part of this equation.”

He urged the United States to provide better training for Taiwan, “Taiwanese could benefit a great deal from the U.S. help.”

“We’re really good at training and organization, and how to carry out complex war maneuvers, and how to integrate different capabilities to get the most bang for your buck, and to be efficient and effective,” he said.

Strategic Responsibilities

The expert said that the United States should be “careful about our strategic responsibilities.”

In his opinion, Ukraine is not a strategic issue for the United States, but China is.

He shared the viewpoint offered by a Wall Street Journal report that the U.S. weapons industry is unprepared for a China conflict partly due to its extensive military spending on the Ukraine war.

He cited a report that America transferred thousands of artillery shells from weapons stockpiles in Israel to Ukraine, and asked the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) to send 155 millimetre (mm) howitzer artillery ammunition rounds to the same destination.

“The consumption of shells and ammunition [there] is tremendous,” he noted as they routinely just fired them off in very large numbers.

Based on the estimates of a senior U.S. defense official, Ukraine is firing from 4,000 to 7,000 artillery rounds daily.

The United States “has delivered more than 1 million 155-mm artillery rounds to Ukraine, and only placed orders to replace a fraction of that amount,” according to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“We can’t support that. We don’t have an industrial base and a defense industrial base that’s geared up to surge and produce supplies,” Bryen said, echoing the CSIS report.

He pointed to the growing aggression of China towards Taiwan, Japan, and Korea and said that America should focus on the East Asia region.

“The threat to Taiwan is real and something we have to really deal with. I would hope that we reorient our foreign policy and our outlook in our domestic policies, and [in] particular, [our] defense policy to recognize that and to implement programs that really make a difference in terms of our security,” he said.

“[We should take] a tough line with China so that we don’t get ourselves in trouble, then get the world in trouble,” Bryen said.