Afghanistan Draw Down and the Chinese Carrier…

Last week, the President declared a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan that is in effect a phantom reduction: according to ABC News, a rough calculation of force numbers in Afghanistan shows that force levels have nearly tripled during the Obama Administration due to a Surge similar to that done in Iraq.

The troops being withdrawn over the next year (about 30,000) correspond with those troops that were sent in originally with the Surge, bringing the troop strength in country down to pre-Surge levels.

What to make of this? Obviously there are political calculations involved in the Administration’s choice. One cannot discount the good feelings engendered by a bunch of troops coming home to their families. It also takes a bit of ammunition away from those Republicans that would attack Obama for keeping the US mired in an unwinnable war.

But the fact remains: the drawdown is really a conveniently timed rotation with no replacement, and at the moment there is almost no chance of getting an honest on-the-ground assessment of how the situation is as the troops pull out.


The ex-Varyag is ready to be put to sea next week, to undergo sea trials for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. This is the PLAN’s first carrier, and one that they got almost completely constructed from the Russians. The ex-Varyag (it still doesn’t have a new name) started life as the Varyag in the service of the Soviet Navy. It was uncompleted at the time of the Soviet breakup, and ended up in the Black Sea where the Ukranians sold it to a third party bidder that ended up being a front company for the Chinese Navy.

Satellites and submarines are expected to keep a sharp eye out when the carrier goes for it’s first sea trials. No aircraft trials are expected: there has been no movement of Flankers from the naval flight sch0ol at Guangzhou.


4 Responses to “Afghanistan Draw Down and the Chinese Carrier…”

  1. Marylander Says:

    Just how functional do you figure the chinese will try to make the varyag? I mean are they going solely for a training affair or is it possible they might try to give it limited (I highlight the limited. The thing sat and rusted for two decades less then half built and the chinese have no experience in Naval Aviation carrier ops.) combat capabilities? What doctrine do you figure they will use.

    Just how rebuilt was the ship? Did the Chinese keep the Soviet style structure for the placement of cruise missiles and shitloads of AA weaponry or did they instead turn it into more of a American style full deck affair?

    • It’s a regular through-deck carrier, which was built less like a normal Russian VTOL ship and more like a regular CATOBAR ship, with an angled flight deck and whatnot. Personally, I think the Chinese are going to find themselves learning a lot from this ship and then incorporating that into whatever they build afterwards. This will probably be similar to the learning curve from the Langley, the Americans’ first carrier.

  2. King of Malta Says:

    So basicaly this is just a trial ship, one they can study and eventually strip down for what comes next.

    The next phase of China’s navy is looking toward expanding into an effective Blue Water Navy, but even still if they achieved this they are somewhat hemmed in. Unlike the US or Japan, China’s coast is hemmed in by major islands and island chains such as Japan to the North East and Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia to the south with the numerous island chains that for the most part are not aligned with China. Given a Naval War Scenario they may be bottled up largely close to their coast regardless of capability.

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