A congressman involved with military innovation this week said the US must prove to Beijing that it can stop China if President Xi Jinping were to risk an invasion across the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to bring Taiwan under Chinese control.

If China invades Taiwan, the United States must realize that it cannot rely on the Taiwanese people to be the only fighters, as they were in Ukraine, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and co-chair of the congressional Future Defense Task Force said Tuesday at the Hudson Institute. Instead, American troops would need to be ready and committed.

Moulton said that Taiwan should have the required weapons, systems, and trained forces to delay the invasion long enough for the United States to overcome a blockade and come to its aid. In Ukraine, on the other hand, assistance is being provided across land, rail, and highway.

Moulton added that the late reactive approach worked for Ukraine, but it is not an option for Taiwan.

These tools, which Congress has authorized, including recruitment and retention flexibility and weapons systems development, have yet to be utilized efficiently by the services. At the same time, Congress has prevented the services from divesting themselves of legacy systems to invest in future technologies, making it more challenging to pay for future modernization.

There are “a lot of similarities in legacy motives” between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and Xi Jinping’s threats to forcibly unite the self-governing democracy with the mainland.

The administration of Joe Biden provided military supplies and economic assistance to support Ukraine’s defense, relocate refugees, and impose harsh sanctions on Russian businesspeople and leaders.

The national guard proved its worth in repelling the Russian incursion, Moulton said. He said that many of its fighters were well-trained and had experience fighting Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region since 2014. Kyiv took preparedness seriously, he added.

Taiwan Flag
(Source: Matthew Fang/Flickr)

“Taiwan is behind, but making progress,” he said.

“The value of asymmetric warfare –”a $1,000 drone” destroying much more expensive tanks – was also made clear on land and in the Black Sea on Russian warships, he said. Later, Moulton cited the Ukrainians’ use of Starlink, a commercially available internet system, that gave its communications networks redundancy when attacked as another successful Ukrainian use of unconventional means in combat,” the report notes.

He adds that redundancy in conventional operations would also be provided if US forces relied on commercial networks to maintain resiliency against nuclear threats.

Before February 24, the Pentagon shared intelligence with the Ukrainians and provided information to the world about Russia’s intentions, Moulton said. He also stated that the Russian disinformation campaign covered up “false flag” operations and lies about the fall of the Ukrainian government.

Moulton said that Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine must be taken seriously because it is a part of Moscow’s military doctrine. He also said that Russia might be willing to take a risk that endangers humanity. Furthermore, he believed that developing artificial intelligence in warfare without norms, treaties, and conventions in place, as there has been with nuclear arms, is increasingly risky.

Moulton said that China’s arsenal of weapons, including artificial intelligence, is poised to dominate future warfare, and China doesn’t care about civilian casualties or collateral damage. Ultimately, the goal of the House Armed Services Committee Future Defense Task Force is “to drive the forces to do more and do it quickly.” In its “report card” on progress in areas like asymmetric warfare, Moulton said that the Army and Navy “were dragging their feet” because of the size of force and infrastructure, as progress seems slow.

However, Moulton said that the Marine Corps and Air Force are “not moving quickly enough” to meet new challenges a rapidly modernizing Chinese military presents. He credited the Defense Innovation Unit with successfully adopting existing commercial technology for Pentagon use via a cut-through-the-red- tape acquisition procedure as a success.

Services need to be faster to use the tools given to them by Congress to recruit and retain personnel or develop weapons systems, according to Mr. Schenck. At the same time, Congress has blocked the services from divesting themselves of legacy systems to invest more in future technology, creating more challenges to future upgrades.

Watch the full panel below: