“After decades of nuclear weapons being consigned to the margins of national security, it is important for senior political and military leaders to re-acquaint themselves with nuclear capabilities, both ours and those of competitors,” Mahnken said.
On the other hand, the PLAN’s burgeoning surface fleet is predicted to alter the naval balance in maritime Asia, said a 2017 report co-authored by James R. Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College and Toshi Yoshihara, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). The report said that China’s rapid production of advanced warships in recent years, such as the Type 055 cruisers, is not a coincidence and was almost certainly “designed, developed, and procured” many years in advance…“China has laid the basis for a competition that will be measured in decades,” write Holmes and Yoshihara. “The United States and its allies must accept reality: they face a long-term rivalry at sea against a tough, determined, imaginative competitor.”
“I think non-kinetic solutions are very promising,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments airpower analyst Mark Gunzinger, a former U.S. Air Force B-52 pilot, told The National Interest. “Trying to create a ‘steel wall’ might be of some help, and by that, I mean rapid-firing guns. Targeting these guns against multiple drones that are dispersed and may be attacking from multiple quadrants would be a significant problem, of course. For a high-power RF defense, you could probably swivel an emitter quite rapidly to different quadrants to place multiple threats within its beam width.”
“There probably is a lower overall level of readiness that results from the higher level of churn that you get in the forward deployed naval fleet as opposed to the [U.S. mainland-based] forces,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
“It certainly is a threat U.S. forces will need to take into account,” Bryan Clark, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer and current senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “It is large enough to carry a megaton-class nuclear weapon, although the 100 MT weapon they advertise may be too heavy. Torpedoes are generally negatively buoyant due to the weight of the engine and warhead and the lack of space for ballast tanks like a submarine would have. A really heavy warhead in this vehicle would make it difficult to control in depth without going very fast and using control surfaces to stay at depth—like an airplane. I don’t see control surfaces that would enable that approach here.”
Eric Edelman, who was the Pentagon’s top policy official during the George W. Bush administration, said one way would be to continue using U.S. special operations forces and air power to advise and back up the same Kurdish and Arab militias alongside which they’re already fighting — only now with an aim toward empowering them against attacks from Iranian-backed forces. “You have to have your own forces there behind them so they have leverage in any political negotiation,” he said.