2014-02-23 by Ed Timperlake
A top American military commander said Saturday that the United States Army was working to start a formal dialogue and exchange program with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army before the end of the year.
General Odierno said Saturday that a formal high-level army-to-army exchange would be helpful because “throughout history, miscalculation is what has caused conflict.
General Odierno, is a decorated combat veteran with an Artillery military specialty and has had a distinguished Army Career so his words must be taken very seriously. The fact he mentioned just the US Army is also of note since General Martin Dempsey, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is a fellow distinguished Army officer whose background is Armor and must have given the Army Chief of Staff his support.
Consequently, meeting for meetings sake does not get either country very far, that is the function of the US Department of State.
It is important to look at significant opportunities offered by the General’s statements reported by The New York Times.
Once such an initiative offered is to provide a wonderful opportunity to clarify to the Commanders of the Peoples Liberation Army PLA) that the US Army will not invade the Peoples Republic of China. It maybe obvious but unless the Chairman wants to keep a “Normandy II” on the table as an option it could be said in public.
Hopefully then the PLA will return the favor and formally recognize that they are not intending to cross thousands of miles of ocean to invade America.
That would take a US combat offensive using “Big Army” off the table and be a significant confidence building maneuver, between both Armies.
The Chief of Staff could take the opportunity to explain how the US Army, will be in support of the US and Allied Air/Sea Battle Planning.
The Army has a critical supporting combat capability; again purely defensive that could bring significant deterrence to the Air/Sea Battle.
Because he used the word “miscalculation,” one would have to consider where the Chinese Army and the US Army might clash because of “miscalculation.”
Perhaps he has in mind the projected Taiwan role for the US Army in support of Air/Sea battle?
General Odniero, supported by the CJCS could direct his Generals in the Pacific, using the military cliché “Lean Forward, be very supportive of helping integrate Army Air Defense Artillery systems through out the Pacific.
Moving and networking Army Patriot and THAAD batteries in greater numbers with US and Allied Air, and Naval units would be extremely helpful.
Supporting South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan and any other Pacific rim countries that want ADA would be a significance addition to deterrence and help bring transparency to avoid miscalculation.
Finally, a constructive Mil-Mi dialogue stressing why it is important that combat elements of the US Army engage in providing “defensive services to the Republic of China on Taiwan would also bring more transparency and help stabilize any confusion on US capabilities and intentions.
And it is clear that such actions are totally inside the Congressional intent of the Taiwan Relations Act.
Perhaps the greatest point embedded in General Odniero’s overture are the consequences of success.
If the proposed Mil-Mil is successful then many units of the US Army can be demobilized and the tight budget resources freed up can given to US Navy, Marine and Air Force units in the Pacific.
On a personal note having focused on the massacre of freedom loving students in Tiananmen Square and 450 other cities I would refrain from using the word “wonderful” and the PLA.
After reviewing Chinese troops, General Odierno described them as “incredibly professional” and “wonderful.”
Later, during his meeting with General Fang, he said: “It’s been very encouraging and made very clear to me the importance that you place on collaboration and cooperation. And I think that is the key.”
The last combat engagement the Peoples Liberation Army had was against their own citizens.
And that clearly was not “wonderful.”
Finally, a key question needs to be answered:
By what authority would the Chief of Staff of the US Army meet with and discuss combat issues with his Chinese counterpart?
There appears to be, at a minimum, a breach of the military principle of unity of command raised by the Army Chief of Staff dealing with the Peoples Liberation Army.
General Odierno is not in the US war fighting Chain-of-Command.
The chain of command is clear with regard to the Pacific: the President is our Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense is his civilian Senate Confirmed appointee who in times of crisis deals directly with the USPACOM.
Wiki actually gets this right:
The United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States armed forces responsible for the Pacific Ocean area. It is led by the Commander, Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM), who is the supreme military authority for the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States serving within its area of responsibility (AOR). The chain of command runs from the President of the United States, through the Secretary of Defense, to the Commander, Pacific Command. It is the oldest and largest of the Unified Combatant Commands. It is based in Honolulu, Hawai’i on the island of O’ahu.
And we clearly need to have an Andrews moment versus a Lindbergh moment in dealing with the PLA.
For the photo credit see the following:
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