This paper outlines the war termination considerations for the JFC in a notional scenario following an attack by China that disables an American aircraft carrier and bombards Guam and Okinawa while Chinese amphibious forces simultaneously execute an assault to capture islands in the South China Sea currently occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Following the Chinese strike an operational plan should initially use coercive diplomacy and avoid escalation in order to facilitate war termination through a negotiated peace. If this approach fails the JFC can then exploit factor time to ratchet up Chinese military and non-military costs while managing the associated risk of vertical and horizontal escalation. A plan that denies China’s initial aims to control and exploit the islands and then provides options for de-escalation acknowledges Chinese culture and negotiation style and may allow the United States to achieve its strategic objectives with lower costs and less risk than other military-centric courses of action. Mainland strikes, as proposed portions by the Air-Sea Battle concept, would limit war termination options due to their escalatory nature and inability to affect the center of gravity.
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