July 27, 2005
Navy Officer Warns Of Chinese Subs
China is boosting its submarine force with the eventual aim of preventing the US from coming to the aid of Taiwan, a retired US military official said
By Charles Snyder, Staff Reporter in Washington
A former senior US naval officer warned Monday that within 20 years, China will have the ability to wreak havoc on US naval forces going to Taiwan's defense against a Chinese attack.
Such a defeat of the US navy by a Chinese force "will ruin America as we know it today," Vice Admiral Al Konetzni said. He was testifying before a hearing of a commission formed by the Pentagon earlier this year to probe plans for closing dozens of US military bases in a bid to save money.
Konetzni was testifying at a hearing in Boston on plans to close the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut, one of 33 major bases slated for closure under the Defense Department's base closure initiative.
He made his comments less than a week after the Pentagon released its annual report to Congress on China's military buildup, which warned of a grave threat to Taiwan stemming from China's military modernization and of its submarine force expansion.
A key role for Chinese submarines, the report and US military experts note, would be to prevent the US from coming close enough to aid Taiwan by essentially closing off the Taiwan Strait to US vessels and troops, allowing China to complete its attack on Taiwan without US interference.
China's submarine force is larger than the US', and "in the year 2025, they'll have three times [as many as the US] at the rate we're doing business," Konetzni told the base closing commission hearing.
"I see a problem with Taiwan," he added.
"I see us putting our white hats on and going across the world and getting there" in the case of hostile Chinese military action against Taiwan requiring a US response, he said.
"And I see one punch in the nose, and it will ruin America as we know it today," Konetzni told the commission.
Until his recent retirement, Konetzni was the deputy commander of the naval command that covered Europe, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Before that he spent three years as commander of submarines in the Pacific and before that, three years in Japan and South Korea.
He testified in opposition to the closure of the New London submarine base.
There are 400 submarines in the world today, he said. China now has a larger force than the US' and in 10 years China will have twice as many submarines as the US. By 2025, the gap will rise to three-to-one, he testified.
Konetzni said that the US has fewer submarines in the Pacific than it has needed, even with the stationing of additional subs in Guam at the end of the 20th century.
"Today, we can deploy nine -- we can stretch it to 10 -- submarines at a time. Our [combat commanders] ... have a requirement for critical requirements of up to 13," he said.
"The fact is, over 30 percent of critical peacetime missions are missed annually. That means we didn't know much about the Chinese [or their] Yuan-class being launched last year," he said.
Ironically, the New London facility is one of the shipbuilding sites that could be involved in building the diesel subs that the Bush administration has been pressing Taiwan to purchase since 2001.
The Electric Boat Division of the defense contracting giant General Dynamic Corp has a variety of docks reserved for ship building, refitting and repair, which builds submarines for the US navy and for sale abroad under US official foreign arms sales programs.
General Dynamics has been named as a potential supplier of the eight submarines that are part of the NT$410.8 billion (US$12.8 billion) arms-sales package that has been held up in the legislature by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its allies.
Looks like alot of BRAC-ed sub bases may be saved here soon
Thats a pretty intimidating article...and alot of it is VERY substantiated
7/28/2005 9:56:12 AM