on a global scale, and if needed, in more than one region of the globe at a time.
The United States- currently the world’s sole Superpower- fits this description, with an
official military doctrine that states its military forces must be ready and capable
to fight two major theater wars simultaneously, a capability no other nation on earth can
But what would happen if the United States found itself in a war against the entire rest
of the world?
How would that war potentially play out?
The rules of this Wargame will be as follows: no nuclear weapons allowed, and war will be
simulated to have broken out after weeks of preamble, as in a surprise attack, the United
States with its forces spread around the world would likely lose its non-homeland forces
entirely, but not before delivering crippling blows to most of the world’s major powers
and knocking them out of the conflict early.
The US’s main opposition would be in the form of a European coalition to include Russia
and a China/India alliance.
The rest of the world’s contribution would be mostly in material supplies or financial
backing, as while even nations like Japan boast a formidable military capability, they
mostly lack the ability to actually deploy that power outside of their own borders.
In fact, that would be the biggest hurdle to any global offensive against the United
States- with historical military preparations focused on conflicts such as NATO vs Russia,
or China vs India, most militaries around the world lack the ability to transport military
hardware across the oceans in a meaningful quantity, making a decisive assault against
the US homeland impossible.
Meanwhile due to its commitments to fighting wars well outside its own borders for the
last 80 years, the United States operates the world’s largest air and naval transport
fleets that number in the hundreds of ships and aircraft- more than most modern nations
This lack of mobility will prove to be a major weakness for the global alliance, and severely
hinder their ability to respond to US actions.
Today the United States operates its forces in every geographic area of the world, and
has split its command structure into nine combatant commands, six responsible for global
geographic areas of responsibility.
In the weeks leading up to the outbreak of war, the United States would likely pull its
forces out of Europe and non-American bases in the Pacific, disbanding its European, African,
and Southern Commands.
Pacific Command, Northern Command, and Central Command would absorb these forces.
Battlefield 1: Middle East
US Central Command would receive an influx of former European assets, with the US bolstering
its forces in the Middle East in bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, with one goal- destroying
the major oil refineries and distribution centers while denying access to the sea lanes
that transport oil from the region.
81% of the world’s oil reserves are located in OPEC countries, and over 60% of the world’s
oil passes through the Arabian Sea alone; the US’s strategic goals would be simple:
shut off the global oil tap.
With the world’s 12th largest oil reserves, the United States could easily supply itself,
while denying the rest of the world access to vital Middle East oil.
Europe, which would represent the United States’ most formidable adversary, relies on Middle
East oil for 40-50% of its total annual use, meaning an American stranglehold on the region
would cripple any European war effort as reserves run out and their economies begin to collapse.
China would face a similar problem, as 50% of its total oil imports all come from the
Middle East, making the region the first front in our war.
At the outbreak of war, the United States would first strike at oil production and distribution
facilities across the Middle East via carrier-based strike aircraft backed up by former European
theater aircraft now based off American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the world’s largest air tanker fleet and flanking the all-important Persian Gulf
from both Iraq and Afghanistan, American aircraft could penetrate deep into Middle East territory
with impunity, striking at targets from the Straits of Hormuz all the way to the Suez
Though regional forces would be able to offer some initial resistance, most operate outdated
Soviet-era or non-modern American built aircraft- with the exception of current US allies such
as Saudi Arabia, who would be able to field modern variant F15s, Typhoon Eurofighters,
and Italian/British Tornado multirole strike aircraft in small numbers.
Without European support however, the air war would go very poorly for Middle East powers
for several reasons:
Firstly, lacking a joint unified command, each nation would be unable to coordinate
its air assets with its neighbors, resulting in confusion and low sortie rates.
Most middle east powers also field very few electronic warfare or early warning and control
aircraft; Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel would represent the most formidable threats
to American air power, yet neither nation fields dedicated electronic attack aircraft,
while the US is equipped with over 200- mostly F-35 variants and EA-18G Growlers.
Without adequate numbers of AWACS and electronic warfare assets, Middle East powers would be
unable to coordinate the large amounts of sorties needed to counter US air power, and
they’d find their aircraft and ground-based air defenses actively jammed or spoofed by
American EW assets.
In the opening days of the Middle East war, the US would likely see moderate casualties
amongst its air forces, as it would be mostly operating against obsolete aircraft and disorganized
or inexperienced air forces.
The greatest threat to US craft would come from ground-based air defenses, which range
in obsoletism yet remain a formidable obstacle to US air power.
With a concentration of American power in the region, it’s a forgone conclusion that
Middle East powers would have begun to move their air defenses to protect vital oil shipping
routes and manufacturing/distribution centers; yet Desert Storm proved how effective the
United States can be at dismantling a nation’s air defense network, and most nations in the
region have invested little into modernizing their defense infrastructure in the years
The US would suffer most of its loss
es to its 4th-generation aircraft such as its F-15,
F-16 and F-18s, while its 5thGen F-35s and F-22s would prove much more difficult to contend
With an inventory of 385 active F-35s, over 1,800 more on order, and 197 F-22s, the US
retains the only operational 5th-generation air fleets, with current allies fielding a
token force of F-35s purchased from America, and the Russians and Chinese still not fielding
combat-ready 5thGen aircraft.
Despite its technological and operational superiority however, sheer numbers would present
a threat to American forces; so instead of seizing key oil production or distribution
facilities, the US would instead focus its efforts on keeping those facilities and trade
route choke points shut down while defending against attacks on its air bases.
A single sunk supertanker could block the Suez Canal for weeks, shutting down one of
the most important oil trade routes in the world, while constant harassment by American
air power would make the Straits of Hormuz impassable.
With few major naval threats in the Pacific, American Pacific naval forces would be split
between containing China and bolstering US Central Command forces in establishing a blockade
of trade routes across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
With 20 carriers, 11 of which are supercarriers- more than the rest of the world combined-
a blockade of the Indian and Pacific oceans would be easily achieved.
With a staggering 80 percent of global oil trade passing through the Indian and Pacific
oceans, the rest of the world would be forced to abandon any plans to attack the US homeland
and first try to dislodge the Americans from the Middle East; yet they would be doing so
while operating on a ticking clock as domestic oil reserves begin running dry.
In a prolonged conflict, immediate development of oil reserves in Russia would begin, though
with only 80 billion barrels of proven reserves vs over 800 billion in the Middle East, it
would be imperative for the global coalition to dislodge the US from the region or face
eventual oil starvation and defeat.
Europe would be faced with the difficult decision of committing the majority of its air and
naval power to a Middle East campaign, yet with an American navy larger than the next
8 navies in the world combined, they would be doing so at the risk of leaving their coasts
vulnerable to harassment from American attack submarines and carrier strike groups.
American attack submarines, in particular, would prove to be an overwhelming force, with
55 nuclear attack subs alone.
Europe, to include Russia, fields nearly 100 submarines, yet only about a third of those
are nuclear-powered, and range from 10 to 25 years behind US subs in tech.
Lacking in major transport capabilities and the ability to adequately protect either their
sea lanes or any attempts to move troops by sea, the global coalition would be extremely
hard pressed to dislodge the US from the Middle East.
While an eventual overwhelming of US ground forces would be possible, it would take weeks
of buildup and slow moving of forces via ground routes, to avoid American submarines.
Victory in the Middle East would be possible for the global coalition, but would only come
at great expense of dwindling oil reserves, and any attempts to reopen the Middle East
trade routes would certainly fail, as the US would concentrate its nuclear attack subs
and carrier battle groups in the region.
The coalition would be forced to rely on existing land-based pipelines, though these would not
be enough to sustain the world economy, and the United States would certainly commit its
stealthy B2 bombers to the destruction of these pipelines and any attempts at building
In short, a land victory would be probable for the global coalition, but without the
ability to challenge the US Navy, global trade routes would be permanently shut down, effectively
crippling the economies of coalition nations and the war effort.
Battlefield 2: West Pacific
The West Pacific and South China Sea is the most economically important water way in the
world, with a full 1/3rd of all global trade passing through the area, or about $5.3 trillion
China, South Korea, and Japan would especially have a vested interest in keeping these sea
lanes open, yet none of those nations field a true ‘blue water’, or deep-ocean navy.
In a global war, the United States would invest the majority of its expeditionary firepower
in the West Pacific, having little to fear from an Atlantic incursion by European powers
due to their lack of major military transport capability, and navies designed for decades
to engage Russian ships in littoral combat rather than blue water operations.
Japan would pose a significant challenge for US forces due to its very modern and robust
self-defense forces, yet the island nation could be largely ignored due to Japan’s lack
of air tankers limiting the range of its strike aircraft and 70 year self-defense military
doctrine, which saw the nation only recently begin to build an expeditionary capability.
With 155 F-15s making up the bulk of Japan’s Air Force, and only a combat range of 790
miles (1270 km), it is doubtful the island nation would risk its 5 operational airborne
refueling tankers to attempt offensive operations against the US Navy and its over 1,000 fighter
aircraft, instead holding its air forces in reserve in case of an American attack on the
The US’s first goal in the region would be to cut off all trade routes passing through
the South China Sea.
China would represent the US’s biggest global adversary, yet like every other global power-
to include Russia- it too lacks the navy and the transport capability to actually threaten
the US homeland.
In order to deny the nation the opportunity to build this capability, the US would immediately
move to cut off Chinese trade through the South China Sea- something China would be
particularly vulnerable to as over 60% of its trade is delivered by sea.
Though China lacks a navy formidable enough to threaten US Pacific forces, it more than
makes up for this shortcoming with its ballistic missile forces.
It’s DF-26 ballistic missiles each have a range of 3000-4000 km, and would threaten
any US base or ship as far out as Guam.
At the outbreak of war, China would immediately launch a withering missile strike against
American facilities on Guam.
While Guam would be defended by THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile
systems, AEGIS-equipped destroyers, and Patriot missile batteries, China would rely on heavy
saturation strikes and overwhelm American missile defense systems, decimating the majority
of American ground targets on the small island and rendering it inoperative as a military
forward staging area for weeks.
This would force America to rely on its naval assets in the region, which would be the secondary
targets of China’s opening barrage.
Though long-touted as ‘carrier-killers’, China’s DF-26 and DF-21 ballistic missiles each rely
on a very long and complex ‘kill chain’, or chain of military assets required to recon
a target, track it, and guide a missile to it.
In order to accomplish this, China operates 30 Yaogan tracking and reconnaissance satellites
grouped into constellations that, working together, would provide China 16 opportunities
per 24 hour period to accurately target a US Navy vessel to within 10 kilometers anywhere
in the Pacific.
The US would certainly seek to counte
r this capability with deployment of its anti-satellite
weapon systems, of which it remains extremely secretive about.
It is impossible to infer just how effective US anti-sat weapons truly are, due to a lack
of information, but it is known that in the early 2000s, the US Air Force successfully
tested a deployment of mini-sats designed to kill or hijack enemy satellites, and in
2008 the US successfully targeted and destroyed a defunct satellite with an SM-3 missile launched
from the USS Lake Eerie in the Pacific.
With every US destroyer and cruiser able to carry the SM-3, this could potentially pose
a serious threat to Chinese space assets and degrade the capabilities of their ballistic
In a push into the Pacific, however, the US would still suffer heavy casualties amongst
its fleet due to Chinese long-range missile strikes.
It’s probable then that while it works to destroy Chinese space assets from afar, America
would instead send in its nuclear attack submarine fleet to blockade Chinese waters.
China operates about 60 submarines, yet for years those subs did not go on patrols or
even leave port as they were often sidelined by maintenance issues.
Only as recently as 2011 did Chinese subs actually begin to leave port, giving US subs
the opportunity to tail them and discover that Chinese submarines were surprisingly
easy to find and track due to their noisy nature; defense experts estimated that Chinese
sub technology was 10 years behind Russia and about 20 years behind the US.
The US meanwhile operates 55 nuclear attack submarines, with most of these being of the
modern Virginia class.
Armed with torpedoes and a complement of Tomahawk cruise missiles, Virginia attack subs could
easily threaten Chinese surface and subsurface vessels, and join its Ohio-class ballistic
missile submarines in cruise missile attacks against Chinese inland industrial and military
While in recent years, China has invested heavily into improving its anti-submarine
warfare capabilities, it is still critically behind even regional powers, such as South
Korea and Japan, meaning that in the end there is likely little China could do to stop US
Though it could likely keep American carrier battle groups out of the South China Sea for
the first week or two of the war, China would be helpless to prevent a naval blockade by
US attack subs.
India, also reliant on South Pacific trade routes, would certainly dispatch its naval
forces to attempt to break a US blockade, but would face the same issues in challenging
US subs that China would.
Having only 15 active submarines and also lacking in modern anti-submarine warfare capabilities,
the Indian navy would quickly find itself overpowered by American attack subs.
Employing a combination of its submarine and anti-satellite assets, the US would likely
break through the Chinese ballistic missile shield within 30 days and enact a complete
blockade of the South Pacific, strangling regional powers economically.
With a blockade of Middle East oil exports, the global war would then become a war of
attrition, with the US starving out the world’s major powers, while able to sustain itself
off its own domestic oil reserves.
Having little to fear from a European transAtlantic offensive due to Europe’s lack of major military
transport capabilities, American forces would be free to initiate ground offensives against
Canada and Venezuela in order to seize its oil reserves as well.
Ultimately the US Navy, the largest and best equipped in the world, would be the deciding
factor in a global war.
With such overwhelming firepower superiority, the United States would be able to fight defensively,
and without launching any major ground offensives outside of North America.
Fielding a larger fleet than the next 8 navies combined, the US Navy, backed by the US Coast
Guard, would easily defend the Atlantic sea lanes from any European incursion, while enacting
blockades of major oil shipping routes through the Persian Gulf, and Indian and Pacific Oceans.
While the world would eventually be able to muster a large enough force to threaten the
US, current military capabilities across the globe would be insufficient to prevent these
naval blockades, and would require years of build up and expansion of navies from every
With the majority of global oil trade shut off by naval blockade however, European and
Asian economies would quickly shrink or outright collapse, making such a buildup improbable,
and ensuring an eventual US victory.
Yet that victory would come at a titanic cost to even the US’s own economy, and in the end,
the entire global economy would likely shrink to levels not seen since the end of the second
So, how do you think this scenario would have played out?!