TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese military studies suggest the logistical effort needed to launch an invasion of Taiwan would surpass the scale of the Allied Normandy landings in 1944, leading to significant supply challenges for China, according to a British weekly newspaper.
The Economist on Monday (Nov. 6) said a People's Liberation Army (PLA) study estimated an invasion of Taiwan would require the mobilization of 3,000 military trains, 1 million vehicles, 2,100 military aircraft, and more than 8,000 ships to transport troops, equipment, and supplies. Another study estimated that a landing on Taiwan would require more than 30 million tons of supplies, far exceeding the scale of the ships, vehicles, and supplies used by the U.S. and its allies for the D-Day landings in June 1944.
Former Chief of the General Staff Lee Hsi-min (李喜明), was cited as saying, "If Taiwan doesn’t surrender, once you’ve landed, you still have to fight for a period of time, maybe one week or two weeks or whatever. Where are your logistics? Your logistics support needs to come in across the Strait but ours don’t have to. We fight in our own yard."
The Economist noted that in the Battle of Guningtou in 1949, more than 9,000 PLA troops attempted a sea invasion of Kinmen but by the third day had run out of ammunition and food supplies. Most of them were killed and some were captured.
Nearly 75 years later, although China's military capabilities have significantly improved, if it really intends to launch a war in the Taiwan Strait, "the logistics of an amphibious invasion are still daunting enough to give Mr Xi pause."
A Chinese defense-industry journal wrote in October last year that Russia's military logistics and supply shortages "deserve our close attention," especially in terms of future sea crossings and island seizures, calling on the authorities to increase military supply inventories. “Modern warfare consumes a staggering amount of material, especially in a protracted war of attrition … The side that runs out of ammunition and provisions is bound to be the loser,” said the journal.
China's PLA Daily in February said that as the pace of combat operations accelerates, it will become increasingly difficult to deliver ammunition and other supplies to the front lines. It predicted that in the future, the front lines will be enlarged and combat troops will be distributed over a wider area, making logistics operations more complex.
China's existing “logistics transportation capabilities” are not enough to cope with “modern warfare conditions," claimed the newspaper.
U.S. and Taiwanese experts who study the PLA's logistics issues believe that its weaknesses include a shortage of heavy-equipment transporters, over-reliance on roads and railways that are easy targets for attack, and a small number of logistics personnel allocated to combat units.
Lonnie Henley, a former China expert at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, was cited by the newspaper as questioning whether the PLA Air Force has sufficient maintenance capabilities, spare engines, and well-trained fighter pilots, expressing doubt about their ability to sustain operations for more than two weeks. Henley said that while major U.S. air campaigns involve 1,000 to 1,500 sorties per day over the course of several weeks, China's biggest operations only consist of 200 sorties during a five-day period.