The Great Game in the 21st Century

In typical British understatement, Arthur Conolly, an intelligence officer with the Sixth Bengal Light Cavalry in the early part of the nineteenth century, called the fighting along with military and diplomatic maneuvering between England and Russia for supremacy in Afghanistan "the great game." The Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling made the phrase popular, but also left a warning about the cost.

Two thousand pounds of education

Drops to a ten-ruipee jezail [a muzzle-loading flint lock]"

Now a very good paper, the Times of India is reporting a trial balloon by the People's Republic of China: "China mulls setting up military bases in Pakistan." As with most information, in this 21st-Century chapter of "the Great Game," it is murky and, to be fair, speculative reporting.

However, from the perspective of the People's Republic of China, it could be an interesting move, although the enthusiasm for such an endeavor by Pakistan is a huge unknown, and the reality of a People's Liberation Army (PLA) base may fall short.

Positioning a base in Pakistan would help mitigate significant PRC internal issues from a threat by their Muslim Uighur population in Xinjian province. This province borders Pakistan. In addition, a base might help with closer relations with Pakistan because the PLA is an arms supplier to Pakistan. In the view from Beijing, a precedent-setting military base outside of China would give them real presence in a part of the world that might be on the precipice of a huge outbreak of violence.

The flash point for unknown and uncontrolled military action and terrorist action across the Middle East and South Asia is when Iranian nuclear facilities are attacked. Combat and commando action to stop Iran from getting a weapon might be approaching just like a tornado dropping out of storm clouds.

Iran must be stopped. Sanctions are a joke because Russia and China have not been helpful. Internally, the Iranian leaders are now hanging dissidents. It is obvious that they are taking a game plan from how China handled repression measures after Tiananmen.

A PLA military base in Pakistan is ultimately not a friendly move to the U.S. So where does this leave the U.S. if China makes such a move? Traditionally, in times of tension and geopolitical military maneuvering that may adversely affect out troops and interests, America asks, "Where are our Carriers?" However, a Carrier Battle Group isn't the deterrence move of choice for the roof of the world.

But the U.S. does have a significant deterrence move, and it is air power. The London Times just reported the first flight of the Russian version of our fifth generation F-22. It is obvious that fifth-generation Air Dominance fighters have great value. The Russian plan for their fifth-generation fighter is unlike the U.S.'s. They will not limit production, and they will concurrently develop an export version. History tells us that the PLAAF has been a significant beneficiary of Russian aircraft design.

It now looks like the Russian design bureau may have a world-class F-22sky coming soon. It is time that the administration and Congress immediately rethink both more Raptors for the USAF and also an export version and the immediate deployment of Raptors where they will be a demonstration of American resolve.

The smart geopolitical move in light of a possible PLA base in Pakistan is to deploy the F-22 where it can make a huge statement of U.S. positioning against any PLA/PLAAF maneuvering for basing. This is because it is not a reach to think the PLAAF would like to be part of any PLA planning in Pakistan.

Sending a detachment of F-22s to Afghanistan to set up a strip alert would accomplish several important objectives. Among them, it would signal to all world powers that the U.S. is committed to air dominance on the roof of the world. Basing in Afghanistan would also give F-22 pilots and commanders the opportunity to develop operational tactics in a combat theater.

It is important to recognize that on the ground, the F-22 is a high-value target. In the air, it tells both our NATO allies and all others that America is committing the best we have to a hot war in a critical part of the world.

Both the Times of India and the London Times had important implied questions: What will America do? Both issues can be addressed concurrently by basing the F-22 Raptor on strip alert in Afghanistan.

Such a move would signal visionary leadership and action in this most serious and dangerous time.
In typical British understatement, Arthur Conolly, an intelligence officer with the Sixth Bengal Light Cavalry in the early part of the nineteenth century, called the fighting along with military and diplomatic maneuvering between England and Russia for supremacy in Afghanistan "the great game." The Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling made the phrase popular, but also left a warning about the cost.

Two thousand pounds of education

Drops to a ten-ruipee jezail [a muzzle-loading flint lock]"

Now a very good paper, the Times of India is reporting a trial balloon by the People's Republic of China: "China mulls setting up military bases in Pakistan." As with most information, in this 21st-Century chapter of "the Great Game," it is murky and, to be fair, speculative reporting.

However, from the perspective of the People's Republic of China, it could be an interesting move, although the enthusiasm for such an endeavor by Pakistan is a huge unknown, and the reality of a People's Liberation Army (PLA) base may fall short.

Positioning a base in Pakistan would help mitigate significant PRC internal issues from a threat by their Muslim Uighur population in Xinjian province. This province borders Pakistan. In addition, a base might help with closer relations with Pakistan because the PLA is an arms supplier to Pakistan. In the view from Beijing, a precedent-setting military base outside of China would give them real presence in a part of the world that might be on the precipice of a huge outbreak of violence.

The flash point for unknown and uncontrolled military action and terrorist action across the Middle East and South Asia is when Iranian nuclear facilities are attacked. Combat and commando action to stop Iran from getting a weapon might be approaching just like a tornado dropping out of storm clouds.

Iran must be stopped. Sanctions are a joke because Russia and China have not been helpful. Internally, the Iranian leaders are now hanging dissidents. It is obvious that they are taking a game plan from how China handled repression measures after Tiananmen.

A PLA military base in Pakistan is ultimately not a friendly move to the U.S. So where does this leave the U.S. if China makes such a move? Traditionally, in times of tension and geopolitical military maneuvering that may adversely affect out troops and interests, America asks, "Where are our Carriers?" However, a Carrier Battle Group isn't the deterrence move of choice for the roof of the world.

But the U.S. does have a significant deterrence move, and it is air power. The London Times just reported the first flight of the Russian version of our fifth generation F-22. It is obvious that fifth-generation Air Dominance fighters have great value. The Russian plan for their fifth-generation fighter is unlike the U.S.'s. They will not limit production, and they will concurrently develop an export version. History tells us that the PLAAF has been a significant beneficiary of Russian aircraft design.

It now looks like the Russian design bureau may have a world-class F-22sky coming soon. It is time that the administration and Congress immediately rethink both more Raptors for the USAF and also an export version and the immediate deployment of Raptors where they will be a demonstration of American resolve.

The smart geopolitical move in light of a possible PLA base in Pakistan is to deploy the F-22 where it can make a huge statement of U.S. positioning against any PLA/PLAAF maneuvering for basing. This is because it is not a reach to think the PLAAF would like to be part of any PLA planning in Pakistan.

Sending a detachment of F-22s to Afghanistan to set up a strip alert would accomplish several important objectives. Among them, it would signal to all world powers that the U.S. is committed to air dominance on the roof of the world. Basing in Afghanistan would also give F-22 pilots and commanders the opportunity to develop operational tactics in a combat theater.

It is important to recognize that on the ground, the F-22 is a high-value target. In the air, it tells both our NATO allies and all others that America is committing the best we have to a hot war in a critical part of the world.

Both the Times of India and the London Times had important implied questions: What will America do? Both issues can be addressed concurrently by basing the F-22 Raptor on strip alert in Afghanistan.

Such a move would signal visionary leadership and action in this most serious and dangerous time.

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