US Army Pacific Launches 1st ‘China Way of War’ Course

US Army Pacific Launches 1st ‘China Way of War’ Course
US Army Pacific (USARPAC) Commander Gen. Charles Flynn claps during the 'Balikatan' or 'shoulder-to-shoulder' U.S.-Philippines joint military exercises in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Philippines, on April 13, 2023. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

The U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) recently held a five-day course for military and civilian personnel, educating them on how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) thinks militarily.

The course, called China Way of War, is the first of its kind and was attended by 23 joint uniformed service members and civilians for five days, ending on Feb. 9, according to a press release from USARPAC. Participants learned via primary source documents, interactive exercises, and a capstone wargame, and they “built a nuanced understanding” of the CCP and its military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“USARPAC leadership directed us to develop a course that would enhance general knowledge of China and their military capabilities,” Capt. Carlo Orciga, Army Pacific Operations and Training and a coordinator for the course, said in a statement.

The USARPAC said the course garnered interest from “numerous Pacific-based units.” As a result, there will be several more courses through the remainder of this year, with plans to “expand across the region and enable more participation across commands.”

The Biden administration’s 2022 National Defense Strategy identified China’s communist regime as the “pacing challenge” for the United States. The strategy also characterized the regime as “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.” It urged political and military leaders to “act urgently to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence” against the CCP.
In March 2023, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said China’s military brass increasingly believes that “war with the United States is inevitable.”
The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., said in December last year that Americans “should be worried” about the CCP possibly invading its democratic neighbor Taiwan.

“With every differing experience one has in this theater, it, in turn, helps shape the level of understanding at all echelons with what the common picture is in the region,” Capt. Orciga said.

“I hope this course further elevates the talent USARPAC has in the Indo-Pacific and increases understanding at all other theaters and between our joint partners and allies,” he added.

U.S. Defense Attaché to China Brig. Gen. Patrick Teague told course participants that it took the U.S. military 30 years to become experts on the threats posed by the Soviet Union after World War II, according to the press release. As a result, regarding China, he said, “We have to build that foundational knowledge, and that starts right now.”

Two course participants—Lt. Cmdr. Ros Lary from the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Maj. Louis Crist of the 10th Support Group from the U.S. Army Japan—shared their reasons for taking the course, according to the press release.

“I think something that we can overlook sometimes is the People’s Republic of China point of view, they’re not just looking at it with fresh eyes. They feel the weight of their history and look at it through that lens,” Lt. Cmdr. Lary said.

“As an intelligence officer, it’s incredibly important to know what the enemy thinks so that you can try and predict what the enemy will do and why they make the decisions that they do,” Maj. Crist said.

USARPAC did not disclose details of the wargame, merely saying that some course participants represented the Chinese side to “sabotage landing strips of the opposing team and cut off port access.”

Gen. Charles Flynn, commander of USARPAC, told reporters in November last year that his forces posed an “enormous deterrence effect” against the PLA given their mobility, according to Stars and Stripes.

He explained that China’s military arsenal—developed to execute an anti-access strategy by defeating enemy air and naval forces—is not designed to “find, fix, and finish” the mobile and distributed land forces that USARPAC would deploy in the event of a conflict in Asia.