U.S. Military Prepares for Possible Global Ground Conflict with Communist China

A robotic combat vehicle from the Project Origin fleet prepares for a drill during Project Convergence20 at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona, Aug. 11 – Sept. 18, 2020.

Classic hypotheses surrounding a possible war between the United States and China focus on regional naval battles in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea, but U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Richard Coffman recently said the United States must and is already preparing for a worldwide ground conflict with the People’s Liberation Army. The development of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), which he leads, is one technology and piece of equipment that will prepare for such a conflict.

General Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission, called for increased military spending during the two sessions in early March, in part because he judged that a military conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the United States would be inevitable. It was the first time such a statement was made publicly at the highest level of the Chinese Communist Party military.

A few days later, on March 10 and March 15, Major General Coffman referred to Xu Qiliang’s remarks in online statements at the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), respectively, and commented, “Anyone who wants to go to war with the United States is foolish, but… . we just have to be ready for wherever and whenever this possible conflict will be.”

China’s Communist Party Pushes Back on U.S.

General Coffman said there are “many malicious actors” in the world, and China is one of them, but unlike other countries, China is the greatest threat to the United States, and the Communist Party “is using its entire government, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in a combination of diplomatic, intelligence The Chinese Communist Party “is using its entire government, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in a combination of diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic areas,” to compete with and weaken the United States.

Coffman argued that the United States has only two choices in the face of the CCP’s military competition, either deterrence to avoid conflict or proactivity. “The U.S. choice is deterrence, (because) we don’t want to go to war.” Coffman explained that once Beijing perceives that the U.S. has made concessions or is not ready for war, it could fuel further provocations and the possibility of waging war. Therefore, not only must the U.S. not show weakness, but, instead, it must always be prepared for a global war with China and use its absolute strength to curb the other side’s impulse to wage war.

Possible U.S.-China war will not be a regional war

Coffman believes that in the event of a military conflict between China and the United States, Beijing will not confine the conflict to the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. “In either case, whether it starts there (in the South China Sea or Taiwan) or elsewhere, it would sweep across the globe faster than wildfire.” Coffman warned that the conflict could soon expand overnight to the Arctic or Africa, “a global threat that we will be standing by.” He added, “Any idea that China will limit itself in a conflict is shortsighted.”

Focus on Winning Strength, Not Probability of War

While the possibility of war is the hottest topic, Coffman emphasized that his role is to ensure that the U.S. Army has the strength to win. “The U.S. Army is a global force. We need to be prepared to fight anywhere in the world. China already poses the greatest military threat to the United States, and we need to make sure we have the speed and range advantage in weapons so we can have a decisive advantage anywhere in the world and ensure victory (in a possible conflict).”

Why do we need land forces and tanks?

Some are accustomed to thinking of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of operations as primarily a maritime theater, but General Coffman believes that modern warfare is a joint operation of the services and that “the Army is a member of the joint force” and “is the only component that can play a decisive role in clearing ground obstacles, occupying and maintaining ground superiority. component in clearing ground obstacles, occupying, and maintaining ground superiority.”

The number of Chinese PLA ground forces and tanks also requires U.S. forces to be prepared for land operations. According to Coffman, China has approximately 7,000 tanks and 3,000 infantry fighting vehicles, for a total of 10,000 armored fighting vehicles. “Our armored forces must be present at the point of conflict to prevent the Chinese PLA from gaining a position of relative superiority on the ground.”” Coffman also emphasized the importance of joint operations, whether within the Army, between the several services, or in the application of technology and weapons, to win.

A New Generation of Armored Combat Vehicles

Coffman is the director of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle cross-functional team at the Army Futures Command, which tweeted March 16 that “the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, large, tough robots, cover fire and multipurpose armored vehicles that can move quickly, is the focal point of future combat power.”

Survivability, mobility, lethality and firepower are the main indicators for the newly developed combat vehicles. “Survivability comes first,” Coffman emphasized. American soldiers are always ready to accept the nation’s call to arms, while leadership ensures they are equipped with the most advanced equipment for victory and security. Coffman said at the International Armored Vehicle Conference in 2020, “I actually put more emphasis on the people than the vehicles. Because it’s all about the soldier.”

The U.S. Army at its most powerful

The Chinese Communist People’s Liberation Army is also working overtime to modernize its technology and military, a feature of which is to follow the U.S. military’s technology step by step, using various means such as spying and stealing intellectual property rights to imitate technology. General Coffman believes that it is because the U.S. military is more technologically advanced that the CCP military is imitating it. But there is one decisive factor that the PLA cannot learn or steal. What (the CCP) does not have, and they never will, is the expertise of our armed forces and our ability to maneuver as a joint force and joint weapons team,” he noted. This advantage, combined with our modernization efforts, gives the United States the most powerful military in the world.”