Gallup Poll on US Military Power

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Gallup Poll on US Military Power

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març 12, 2012, 3:25pm

I think this poll by Gallup shows better than most things the ignorance of far too many Americans when it comes to international issues. Anyone who can look at the US military vis-a-vis any other military in the world and not conclude that it is head-and-shoulders better is simply not paying attention.

There is no military power in the world that comes close to matching the US in its ability to combine technology, tactics, and professionalism on the battlefield. You really do have to go all the way back to Rome to find a military power that was as dominant as the US has been since about 1985.

There may well be combinations of countries that could stalemate the US militarily, but there is no single country in the world that the US would not defeat on a conventional battlefield today in, say, 12 months at the most.

març 12, 2012, 5:38pm

I am assuming we are speaking of a conventional war -no ABC weapons- and if that is the case I am sure I don't understand how the US could beat China in a conventional war. Wouldn't they simply overrun US forces by sheer numbers?

Editat: març 12, 2012, 6:48pm

I am assuming we are speaking of a conventional war -no ABC weapons

Yes, this would be a military engagement without the use of nuclear weapons (chemical and biological weapons really wouldn't make much difference given how the US typically fights, that is, from afar).

...I don't understand how the US could beat China in a conventional war. Wouldn't they simply overrun US forces by sheer numbers?

The problem for China in such a conflict would actually be being able to get to US forces in the first place. The US has the ability to seriously degrade any military force from a far off distance. What little naval power China could put to sea would be destroyed within a matter of weeks, if not days. And US air power would eventually gain command over the skies as well (although such superiority would be won at a steep cost as China has a fairly good air force and very good air defenses).

Fighting a war by numbers is like trying to box a smaller but quicker opponent. You might be able to outmuscle the opponent, but if you aren't nimble enough to catch him, it does you little good. That is essentially the position that China finds itself in vis-a-vis the US, and the US has the added advantage of being able to land extremely hard and effective punches from across the ring (it's like having a 15-foot reach when the other guy only has a 7-foot reach.

In Korea the US's ability to project power from a distance was very limited. Therefore, Chinese troops were able to get close enough to US/UN forces to use their superior numbers to their advantage. They would be hard-pressed to do so now.

març 12, 2012, 9:35pm

I would imagine that war between US and China would be over some third country or territory. War between the two nations, I mean troops in the others home territories, I just don't see. Nuclear power makes invasion of a nuclear powers homeland extremely risky, - for anyone.

Now, regarding some third territory, one is allowed to choose whether or not to become involved. I think there are many scenarios where what you are saying is correct (i.e., the US has a distinct tactical advantage). However, there are still some areas where this might not be the case. Inner Asia might be such a place. - Especially after US troops leave Afghanistan. Perhaps the US would elect not to get involved in a situation where they did not have tactical advantage due to their navy/air force being too distant to make a difference?

març 12, 2012, 10:20pm

There are only two places over which I can imagine the US and China coming to blows in the immediate future: Taiwan and Korea. If it's Taiwan, then that would be a purely naval/aerial engagement. China is at least three decades away from being able to successfully invade Taiwan in the face of determined American resistance (and it's probably further off than that). Although it could already probably destroy most of Taiwan if it wanted to by just using its conventional missile forces.

Korea, however, is another thing. Certainly if China were to conduct a preemptive invasion of Korea, there's little the US could do to stop it. What few troops we currently have in Asia, even if we were able to put them into Korea before the invasion started, would be less than a speed bump for China's military.

The more likely scenario, though, is that the US and China come to blows after the US has already put a large number of troops on the peninsula following a collapse of the North Korean government. If the North Korean government does collapse, the US would want to move into the North to secure whatever WMDs the regime has developed over the years so that they don't wind up in the hands of people who have little scruples about using them. Such an effort would require rapid mobilization and deployment of US troops and would probably require, when it's all said and done, upwards of 250,000 combined US and South Korean troops. That kind of "hostile" military force on its doorstep might make China awfully nervous (though I seriously doubt it would cause China to invade Korea).

If China did invade at that point, though, they likely would be able to drive the US/SK forces back quite a bit, reminiscent of 1950, but the amount of firepower that the US could put on their troops in such a situation would make it difficult for them to advance very far down the peninsula. Korea is very mountainous, which makes a speedy advance difficult to begin with, and the ability of US naval/aerial assets to degrade enemy formations would make any large-scale Chinese maneuvers virtually impossible, which somewhat negates their numerical superiority. If you force them to break their units up into smaller units, you can concentrate larger forces against their smaller units and then roll them up one at a time going up both sides of the peninsula.