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US military changing strategy after losing simulated war with China

‘They knew exactly what we’re going to do before we did it,’ a US general revealed

Helen Elfer
Friday 30 July 2021 21:24 BST
Joint military drill
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A general has revealed that the US military “failed miserably” in a war game, leading to a major fighting strategy change.

The United States’ readiness for armed conflict was put to the test in an exercise last October, which ended up uncovering serious weaknesses in its warfighting strategy, reports Business Insider.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten said on Monday: “Without overstating the issue, it failed miserably."

During the simulated war, described as “a fictional confrontation with China” that involved a fight over Taiwan, the imaginary enemy upended the blue team’s (ie the United States’) strategy of “information dominance”.

“An aggressive red team [taking the role of hostiles] that had been studying the United States for the last 20 years just ran rings around us," said Mr Hyten. He added: "they knew exactly what we’re going to do before we did it, and they took advantage of it.”

“Imagine what our actual competitors have been doing for the last 20 years, with probably even more focus, with larger numbers,” Mr Hyten said. “So we had to take a step back and look broadly and say: ‘OK, what did we miss?’”

Mr Hyten said that the US forces attempted to establish information dominance, “just like it was in the first Gulf War, just like it has been for the last 20 years, just like everybody in the world, including China and Russia, have watched us do for the last 30 years.”

The attempt failed immediately, because of the US military’s reliance on digital data and communications, which can be disrupted if US satellites are targeted. The simulated engagement also showed that aggregating American forces might leave them more vulnerable against great power enemies.

“In today’s world, with hypersonic missiles, with significant long-range fires coming at us from all domains, if you’re aggregated and everybody knows where you are, you’re vulnerable,” Mr Hyten said.

The Pentagon has since been looking at how to update its warfighting approach to an "expanded maneuver" strategy. Its purpose is to develop the capability to attack in a way that makes it impossible for an adversary to defend itself, and connect command and control links to give commanders a clearer picture of the battlefield.

Mr Hyten said the changes were essential as the US military’s warfighting edge over rival powers like China is “shrinking fast”.

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