Saving Time: A Whole-of-Government Approach to Postponing an Invasion of Taiwan


By LCDR Obvious, USN

To thwart a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the US must slow down its demand

The Taiwan Relations Act (hereinafter “TRA”; Pub.L. 96-8, 93 Stat. 14, promulgated April 10, 1979; HR 2479) requires the People’s Republic of China to submit a request to the Congress of United States at least 14 working days before an invasion of Taiwan. When the TRA was first drafted in 1979, US military planners believed it was time to allow the United States to pre-position forces to deny, deter, defeat, disrupt, degrade, destroy , stretch or disarticulate the forces of the PRC before they succeed in seizing Taiwan. Since the PRC began its military modernization in the mid-1990s, Western national security experts have sounded the alarm that the required 14 working days notice is no longer sufficient to ensure that the US military has a complete and utter domination over the forces of the PRC. in the Western Pacific at the start of combat operations.

Two attempts were made by Congress to extend the 14 working day requirement to 21 and 30 days in 1988 and 2005, respectively, but both of these efforts failed in the Senate. What is less well understood is clause 16: 7 of the TRA which states that “Congress will do everything possible to respond to a request from the PRC for ‘reunification’ with Taiwan as soon as possible upon receipt. of “The Chit”. of “Make every effort” and “quickly. “This article will explore ways in which the United States can use a whole-of-government approach to embrace the spirit of the TRA while gaining valuable time to pre-position US forces in the theater of victory against the PRC.

The most obvious way for the United States to delay official recognition of The Chit by Congress is unfortunately already on the table. In 1979, then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai cleverly ensured that language demanding a quick response even though Congress was on vacation was added to the final TRA language by US Permanent Shadow SECSTATE Henry Kissinger. During Congressional recess, each rank member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is required by the TRA to appoint a primary and alternate Senate page from their offices to remain in Washington, DC, to be on standby to receive a request. invasion of the PRC in case one is generated by Beijing. Senate Pages performing this task receive a per diem for this service amounting to US $ 257.

To be successful in slowing the delivery of The Chit to Congress, we need to start earlier in the approval chain. The TRA specifies three offices that must receive, review, sign, and transmit the Chit in sequential order before it is delivered to Congress. Adding delays to each of these stages can save the US military critical hours and even days of preparation. The Chit’s first stop is the SHELLBACK Listening Station, a Navy crypto station located on a small rock outcrop 57 nautical miles north of Guam. Rising sea levels and significant coastal erosion following the opening of a Subway restaurant on the outcrop in 2003 threatened the operation of the SHELLBACK station. Senior naval chiefs, a naval chief and a petty officer first class.

SHELLBACK operations are conducted from a single Quonset hut seized from the Japanese in 1943. Other than the metro and a small collection of radar towers, it is the only facility on the outcrop. SHELLBACK was designed for one purpose: to ensure that the United States meets its TRA commitments by promptly processing any PRC invasion request forms it receives. Having never received a token, SHELLBACK is currently ranked as one of the most efficient units in INDOPACOM’s theater of operations. Failure to address the Chit immediately would threaten SHELLBACK’s effectiveness rating to the point where they may not receive the INDOPACOM “Battle E” Commendation for the first time since 1981.

If the United States receives indications and warnings that the PRC is about to formally request permission to invade Taiwan, the United States Navy should immediately select the Petty Officer 1st Class stationed at SHELLBACK to be promoted to Chief Petty Officer. This will kick off a 6-20 week Chief Induction Season, involving the entire SHELLBACK Command. A 2017 Rand Corporation study indicated that intervening a leader’s induction process into an otherwise high-performing command could reduce operational efficiency by more than 85%. For our purposes, suppose The Chit routing process – which under normal circumstances would take an hour – could be delayed for three days. It may not seem like much, but three days would give the US government ample time to evacuate all US citizens from Taiwan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Islands. Hawaii and the west coast of the United States in preparation for conflict with the PRC.

After SHELLBACK, The Chit is routed to INDOPACOM’s PRC relations office in Mililani Mauka, a suburb of Honolulu. The PRC Relations Office (PRC-RO, pronounced “prick-ro”) is specially designed to facilitate the transfer of all PRC invasion application forms from Guam to the State Department in Washington, DC. Since its inception in 1979, the PRC-RO has been headed by a single government civilian, Mr. Daniel Peterson. The wording of the TRA establishing the PRC-RO and the hiring of Mr. Peterson was specifically requested by Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona), Mr. Peterson having previously participated in Senator Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. After 36 years of flawless government service, Mr. Peterson retired in 2015 and went on to found Eagle-Dragon Communication Associates, a private company which was awarded the exclusive contract to operate PRC-RO under NDAA 2015.

Mr. Peterson (“just call me ‘Dan’) works the same hours as a civilian contractor as when he worked for the government. However, Mr Peterson requested and obtained permission from INDOPACOM N15 to leave a little earlier on Friday so he could beat the traffic on the H-1 and make it to his great-granddaughter’s lacrosse game on time. -girl. If the SHELLBACK station can keep the Chit out until 2:00 p.m. Friday, Honolulu time, Mr. Peterson will already be gone for the weekend, buying the U.S. government for two and a half days to create and publish the TikTok videos commissioned by. NDAA 2019 explaining to Zoomers what a fallout shelter is.

Once The Chit gets out of PRC-RO, he goes to the US State Department. The author is a career US military officer, he doesn’t know how the State Department works, and frankly didn’t bother to learn for the sake of this article. He assumes The Chit will be treated like a passport application, slowly but within a realistic timeframe. On the way…

Upon release from the State Department, The Chit is driven to Congress by the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in a white 1974 Plymouth Fury Sport Suburban station wagon. The use of this particular automobile is specified in the TRA language and was reportedly added by then Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) for the purpose of supporting the Detroit auto industry. The State Department is required to keep two well-maintained white Suburban cars on-site in perpetuity for this purpose, which costs the taxpayer approximately $ 26,000. per year under maintenance.

Following the steps outlined above can add almost a week of processing time before Congress receives the Chit, at which point the formal 14 business day approval process specified in the EMR begins. Given the pace and scale of the PRC’s preparedness for conflict with Taiwan, including the construction of hundreds of new warships, bombers, spy satellites, and ground-based conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles, this week of preparation could tell the difference between victory or defeat for the United States in the Pacific. We must take all reasonable and legal steps to slow down the processing of this required form before it is too late. Fortunately, this plays into a crucial asymmetric advantage for the United States. If there’s one thing the whole of the US government is good at, it’s the incredibly slow processing of routine documents.

LCDR Obvious is a US Navy officer serving in the Indo-Pacific region. He read the recent crop of articles promising One Weird Trick to deter China from invading Taiwan with a combination of mirth, skepticism, and alarm.

Image Featured: Chief Logistics Specialist Daniel Hamar of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) checks inventory documents with the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) Logistics Specialist Second Class Darius threatens from Columbus, Ohio during a supply management (SMI) inspection. (US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Edward Kessler / Released)

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