The past several months have heard a steady drumbeat of news stories describing the adverse effect the ongoing budget mess is having on the readiness of our armed forces. Whether it’s canceled deployments, delayed maintenance, or smaller numbers of next-generation weapon systems, there’s a sense among many that we’re losing ground against those who might wish us ill. Topping that threat list for some is the People’s Republic of China. Captain James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii, made waves at the Naval Institute-AFCEA WEST conference in January when he said that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) foray into blue-water operations is intended specifically to counter the U.S. Navy. “Make no mistake,” he warned, “the Chinese navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet.” His comments reverberated far and wide, in print and online, from various Asian media outlets to numerous defense publications to The Wall Street Journal .