USA: Air Sea Battle/JOAC und Offshore Controll– wie führt man am besten Krieg gegen China?

In den USA werden seit einiger Zeit verschiedene Konzepte und Strategien diskutiert, wie man denn am besten einen Krieg gegen China und/oder den Iran führen sollte. Zum einen die Befürworter des Airsea Battle (ASB)/Joint Operation Access Concepts (JOAC), zum anderen Befürworter der Offshore Controll (OC). Beide Seiten sind der Ansicht, dass man Krieg gegen China so führen könnte, dass er begrenzt und unterhalb der Nuklearschwelle bleiben würde. Die frohe Botschaft für die Menschheit: Ein amerikanischer Krieg gegen China ist führ- und gewinnbar, da der Chinese ein rationaler Denker, ein Go-Spieler sei, über  eine 5000jährige Kultur und Zivilisation verfüge, eben kein Jihadist sei, weswegen er auch wirtschaftliche Strangulation durch US-Seeblockaden und militärische Schläge in sein inneres Territorium nicht mit einem Zivilisationsbruch beantworten werde, sondern sich brav und artig in das Drehbuch eines sinoamerikanischen Krieges wie es von US-Strategen konzipiert wird bei schierer Übermacht der US-Waffen und deren Sachzwang fügen werde. Also kurz: Der säkular-zivilisatorische Fortschritt der chinesischen Gesellschaft  in Abgrenzung zu solch vermeintlich irrationalen Akteuren wie dem Islamischen Staat wird als militär-strategischer Vorteil fürs US-Militär gedacht und zum Nachteil Chinas. Die Chinesen sind zu zivilisiert, als dass sie so einen Zivilisationsbruch begehen könnten, was ihnen zum eigenen Nachteil gereichen soll. Kein 3. Weltkrieg sei zu erwarten, sondern das Ganze bleibt regional und mehr symbolisch und die USA werden als klarer Gewinner eines sinoamerikanischen Krieges hervorgehen–egal mit welchem Konzept oder welcher Strategie, wenngleich von der Offshoreseite da doch nochmals ins Spiel gebracht wird, dass die Chinesen ausflippen könnten, wenn man ihr inneres Territorium bombadiert, was dann wiederum von ASB-Befürwortern entschieden zurückgewiesen wird.

Exemplarisch tobte schon 2013 im US-amerikanischen Magazin The National Interest hierzu eine leidenschaftliche Debatte.

Die eine Seite befürwortet das Airseabattle/Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC), das Militärschläge tief innerhalb Chinas, jedoch nicht auf Bevölkerungs- und Regierungszentren vorschlägt –siehe die Bombadierungsvorschläge des Pentagonnahen Think- Tanks Center for Strategic Budget Assessment CSBA  für China:

From the CSBA report on ASBC: the section entitled „Executing a Missile Suppression Campaign.“

From the CSBA report on the ASBC: the section entitled „Blind PLA ISR Systems.“

Referenced from: http://thomaspmbarnett.com/globlogization/2012/8/10/nice-critique-of-the-sheer-and-reckless-overkill-that-is-asb.html#comments#ixzz45inFNlIn

Die andere Seite befürwortet Offshore Controll (OC), eine Art maritime Seeblockade nach Vorbild des US-Ölembargos gegen das imperiale Japan, die den Krieg innerhalb der ersten Inselgruppe belassen will. Die Kritik an Airseabattle ist zum einen, dass es keine Strategie, sondern nur ein vages Konzept sei und zum anderen eine eskalatorische Dynamik freisetzen würde, die einen Atomkrieg zwischen den USA und China herbeiführen könnte.

Ebenso sei bei ASB/JOAC nicht klar, was man darunter verstehen würde einen Krieg zu gewinnen, also was das Kriegsziel eigentlich sei. Das Ziel bliebe offen und das sei gefährlich. Desweiteren wird kritisiert, dass ASB sich sehr auf Kommunikationsnetzwerke und Informationsfluss stütze, die leicht mit Cyber- und Weltraumwaffen chinesischerseits angegriffen werden könnten, so dass das ganze Konzept dann blind kollabieren könne.

Daher schlägt T.X. Hammes mit seiner Strategie der Offshore Controll vor, dass man Militäroperationen in chinesischem Luftraum und gegen Landeinrichtungen wegen Eskalationsgefahr unterlassen sollte und sich mit einer maritimen Blockade begnügen sollte, die auch nicht China völlig, sondern selektiv strangulieren solle. Es gehe auch nicht um den völligen Kollaps der chinesischen Wirtschaft, sondern diese durch Erhöhung der Frachtkosten und selektive Blockademassnahmen nicht mehr wettbewerbsfähig zu machen.

Kritiker der Offshore Controll halten diese Strategie nicht machbar und widersprechen auch der Ansicht, dass ASB einen Nuklearkrieg provozieren könne–dazu sei die chinesische Regierung zu rational, habe dazu erklärt, dass sie den Ersteinsatz von Nuklearwaffen ablehne, hätte keine Zweitschlagkapazität, würde bei einem Atomkrieg der klare Verlierer sein und dass sie Luftverteidigungssysteme an den Küsten installiere, deute zudem darauf hin, dass sie nicht an einen Atomschlag als Reaktion denke. Zudem müsse man während des Krieges als integralen Bestandteil des Operationskonzept der chinesischen Regierung und dem Militär glaubhaft kommunizieren, dass man den Krieg begrenzt halten wolle. Daher bestände keine Gefahr eines nuklearen Armageddons:

“Retired Marine colonel T.X. Hammes of the National Defense University, a highly regarded strategist and perhaps the leading member of this school, argues, “[T]he United States must accept that China’s nuclear arsenal imposes restrictions on the way American forces might attack Chinese assets. The United States must select ways that minimize the probability of escalation to nuclear conflict.” To Hammes, this means, for instance, “[n]o operations should penetrate Chinese airspace. Prohibiting penetration is intended to reduce the possibility of nuclear escalation and to make war termination easier.” Hammes proposes an alternative strategy of “Offshore Control” that relies on a “distant blockade” of China to bring it to heel. And Hammes is not alone—this point of view has an influential following, including in Congress.
The Pentagon hasn’t said publicly what an AirSea Battle-style campaign would look like. But what the Defense Department has released makes it absolutely clear that Hammes and co’s strategy would completely emasculate the approach. The AirSea Battle concept, for instance, states that the “central idea” of the concept is that the United would undertake “attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces,” specifically against the most dangerous adversary assets—such as precision-guided missiles, tactical command and control, reconnaissance sensors, and the like. Now, you don’t need to be a China expert or a cunning strategist to see that basically all of those items would be in China in the event of war between our nations. Taking them off the table would mean allowing the Chinese to operate those forces with impunity in a conflict.
If Hammes’ strategy of Offshore Control were workable or if he were right that anything like penetration of Chinese airspace would pose too much of a risk of nuclear escalation, then he would have a very powerful point. Naturally, the United States should avoid doing things that stand even a very low but real chance of resulting in nuclear attacks against our country or our allies. But the problem with his and his confreres’ argument is twofold. First, their strategy is very unlikely to work, and so something like AirSea Battle that enables effective American power projection is needed; second, an AirSea Battle-style approach, properly conducted, would almost certainly not lead to nuclear Armageddon.”

Kritiker der Offshore Controll sind wiederum der Ansicht, dass man China hier die Initiative überlasse, es nicht dazu zwinge seine Resourcen für Landeinrichtungen zu konzentrieren, sondern es ohne ASB nun in Waffenplattformen- und systeme investieren könne, die Machtprojektion fernab von den Küsten und auch gegen Verbündete der USA ermöglichten, ja die Vorherrschaft der USA über den Pazifik infrage stellen würden.

Ebenso würde eine solche maritime Blockade lange Zeit aufrechterhalten werden müssen, überschreite dies möglicherweise die finanziellen Resourcen der USA und hätten historisch Seeblockaden allein den Feind nicht in die Knie zwingen können. Ebenso bestehe die Möglichkeit, dass eine Seeblockade durch die transibirische Eisenbahn oder die Baikal-Amur-Linie oder andere kontinentale Landverbindungen umgegangen werden könnte.

Befürworter der Offshore Controll wiederum weisen darauf hin, dass sich in diesem Fall die Transportkosten verdoppeln würden, wie auch viele Güter wegen der Kälte nicht transportiert werden könnten, diese also schon wirksam sei.Vor allem sei der Vorteil, dass man relativ gefahrlos von einer drohenden Eskalation, China dazu bewegen könnte, ohne Gesichtsverlust zum Vorkriegsstatus zurückzukehren.

„Second, Offshore Control punishes China’s economy. It does not seek to shut off all Chinese trade but only to raise the cost of such trade high enough that business will go elsewhere for the exports it currently gets from China. Colby, and others, have suggested that Russia can break the blockade by offering overland transit. In fact, the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Baikal Amur Mainline cross Russia from the Far East. The combined capacity of both routes will not begin to match the throughput capacity of China’s ports. In addition, due to gauge differences between Chinese-Russian and Russian-European rail lines, all containers will have to be shifted to new trains twice. Currently, it costs roughly $5000 more per container, or twice as much, to rail a container from western China to eastern Europe as it does to move it to China’s east coast and ship it by sea. As demand for rail transport increases sharply, so will costs. Rail does save time, but temperature-sensitive materials may not be shipped during the winter due to the extreme cold along the route.
Offshore Control does not suggest blockade will cause China’s economy to cease functioning only that it will make it noncompetitive globally. Domination of the sea and air space outside the First Island Chain allows the United States to selectively intercept those ships that trade with China. By violating the blockade, they became subject to seizure and sale in prize court. The seizure and sale of some of these ships will immediately result in massively higher shipping charges by those shippers and insurers willing to risk the blockade.
Given that the Chinese Communist Party stakes its legitimacy on providing a better future for its people, Offshore Control strikes at the legitimacy of the Party. The Party can choose to continue the fight in hopes of defeating the distant blockade, escalate to attempts to invade the First Island Chain or even to nuclear exchange. Or it can do what it has done in the four conflicts it has fought since 1949. It can declare China has taught the “aggressor” a lesson and cease hostilities. The CCP has done this regardless of whether the war was going well (India), badly (Korea, Vietnam), or was essentially a draw (the Zhenbao Island Incident with the Soviets).”

Wie bei JOAC geht man auch bei der Offshore Controll sehr zweckoptimistisch davon aus, dass die Chinesen letztendlich einlenken werden.

Inzwischen wurde als begleitendes Konzept zu JOAC 2014 auch das Joint Concept for Entry Operations (JCEO) vom US-amerikanischen Generalstab, dem Joint Chiefs of Staff, beschlossen, das das Zusammenspiel zwischen den verschiedenen Teilstreitkräften bei Eintrittsoperationen im Rahmen von JOAC konkretisiert–nachlesbar unter:

http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/concepts/joint_concepts/jceo.pdf

Airsea Battle-Strategen berufen sich auf die Erfolge des Airland Battle-Konzepts der NATO und der USA in den 80er Jahren in Europa, das sich gegen die Sowjetunion richtete. Die Bedeutung von Atomkriegen wurde von damaligen US-Vertretern auch stark relativiert. So erklärte der ehemalige NATO-SACEUR und Ex-Außenminister Alexander Haig in einer Rede vom 12.1.1981:

„Ich sehe einen Atomkrieg als ein unvorstellbares Unglück, es gibt jedoch wichtigere Dinge, als im Frieden zu leben“.

Reagans damaliger Vizepräsident George Bush hielt Atomkriege sogar für gewinnbar. In einem Interview mit dem Korrespondenten der Los Angeles Times Robert Scheer vom 24.1.1980 erklärte Bush:

Scheer: Erreicht man mit diesen strategischen Atomwaffen nicht einen Punkt, wo wir uns gegenseitig so oft vernichten können, … daß es wirklich keine Rolle mehr spielt, ob man zehn oder zwei Prozent drunter liegt oder drüber?

Bush: Ja, wenn sie glauben, daß es in einem nuklearen Schlagabtausch nicht so etwas wie einen Sieger gibt, dann macht das Argument Sinn, Ich glaube das nicht.

Scheer: Wie gewinnt man einen nuklearen Schlagabtausch?

Bush: Man hat eine Überlebensfähigkeit der Kommando- und Kontrollstrukturen, Überlebensfähigkeit von Industriepotential, Schutz eines Prozentsatzes der Bürger, und man ist in der Lage, dem Gegner mehr Schaden zuzufügen, als der einem zufügen kann. Auf diese Weise kann es einen Sieger geben.

Damals hielt die Reaganregierung Kriege, auch Atomkriege gegen die UdSSR für „führbar, begrenzbar und gewinnbar“, wie es in der damaligen Direktive 57 des National Security Council (NSC) von Colin S.Gray formuliert wurde. Man könne die Sowjetunion „enthaupten“ („decapitate“), ihre Führungs-, Kommunikations- und Kommandozentralen mittels präziser Nuklear- (Pershing 2, Cruise missiles)und konventioneller Schläge ausschalten und mittels kombinierten Einsatzes von Bodentruppen und Luftwaffe  (Airland Battle) ihre Armeen auf dem Schlachtfeld und mittels tiefer Schläge und Vorwärtsstrategie besiegen. Die UdSSR stünde dann vor der Alternative einen weltweiten Atomkrieg und ihren eigenen Untergang zu beginnen oder einzulenken, was sie dann auch als Option machen werde. Die Sowjetunion hielt diese Drohung mit einem 3. Weltkrieg für glaubwürdig, nahm sie ernst und kapitulierte lieber, was den Zusammenbruch des Ostblocks unter Gorbatschow herbeiführte. Ähnliches wie bei Airland Battle bei der Sowjetunion erhoffen sich nun auch die US-Strategen des Airsea Battle gegenüber China und dem Iran.

Jedenfalls sollte man die Äusserungen des Vorsitzenden des US-Generalstabs (Joint Chiefs of Staff) Dempsey, wonach Kriege zwischen Grossmächten, unausgesprochen: Russland und China mit den USA, wieder denkbar seien, nicht auf die leichte Schulter nehmen.Airsea Battle/JOAC und Offshore Controll sollen einen Krieg der USA gegen China führbar, begrenzbar und gewinnbar machen.

 

 

Die ausführliche Debatte in der US-Zeitschrift „The National Interst“ von 2013 hier nochmals dokumentiert in Form von drei grundlegenden Artikeln—mit Elbridge Colby und Sam Tangredi als ASB-Befürwortern und T.X. Hammes als ASB-Kritiker und Theoretiker der Offshore Controll:

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Don’t Sweat AirSea Battle

The new U.S. military concept doesn’t make war with China more likely or more risky.

Elbridge Colby
July 31, 2013

The combination of growing Chinese military power and Beijing’s increasing assertiveness has refocused attention on East Asia and the possibility of conflict after a decade of emphasis on the Middle East and stability operations. Indeed, while China’s economic expansion appears to be hitting some turbulence, even a China that grows more slowly—as in 7 percent rather than 10 percent per annum—will still be able to continue to fund its impressive array of military modernization programs, programs that, if current trends continue, will allow it to effectively conduct serious military operations throughout Asia.
A China that can undertake such military operations will also be a China that will be able to mount a formidable—and in some cases dauntingly formidable—challenge to the military power of the United States and its allies in the region.

This is no coincidence, as China’s military modernization programs are clearly designed, according to the U.S. government’s own assessment, to “counter third-party [read: U.S.] intervention” in disputes it cares about. If the Chinese can achieve the military upper hand over the United States in the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. network of alliances and partnerships—and the regional order it has underwritten—would no longer count for much beyond ceremony in military terms.

The Pentagon has taken note, and is vigorously pursuing a spate of initiatives in an attempt to preserve the U.S. margin of advantage over sophisticated adversaries such as China. The oft-discussed AirSea Battle initiative and the related Joint Operational Access Concept, while careful to avoid explicitly mentioning China, are obviously applicable to China (as well as other potential adversaries wielding sophisticated military systems) and senior Defense officials regularly talk about the threat posed by Chinese antiaccess/area denial systems (A2/AD). So you do the math.

The basic point of AirSea Battle, and presumably other methods of overcoming the challenges to American power-projection capabilities (bear in mind that AirSea Battle is only one possible way to do so), is to “preserve the [United States’] ability to defeat aggression and maintain escalation advantage despite the challenge posed by advanced weapons systems.” The initiative’s essential way of doing that—its „central idea“—is to “develop networked, integrated forces capable of attack-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces.” In layman’s terms, it envisions developing a highly sophisticated military posture capable of going deep into enemy territory to get at the kinds of advanced missiles, command-and-control systems, and the like that threaten U.S. power-projection capabilities. The idea is to allow our battle network of planes, ships, satellites, cyber assets, submarines, missiles and the like to prevail over an opponent’s battle network. This capability, it is believed, will give the United States greater leverage in disputes with countries like China—whether such disputes involve actual shooting or just the threat of it.

AirSea Battle’s Critics

Few not already generally opposed to the use of the military as an instrument of national policy question that the United States and its allies would benefit from having military forces that could defeat any aggression or attempt at political coercion by China. But that’s not where the bulk of the opposition to AirSea Battle and its related initiatives comes from. Rather, opposition springs from other quarters.
One of these is that the United States and China would never fight a war, because the damage would be too great. History and prudence would seem to indicate that it would be inordinately unwise to reckon upon this proposition; but, even if one is sympathetic to the notion, doesn’t it still counsel that we should have strong military forces to make sure everyone is clear what damage would ensue from fighting?

Another source of opposition is fiscal in nature—that the United States can’t afford the expensive programs required to maintain the conventional upper hand. But this seems to be giving up far too soon. We already spend far more on defense than anyone else, including China, and we can clearly spend our money more intelligently, chiefly by focusing on maintaining high-end conventional superiority rather than on low-payoff investments in extremely expensive counterinsurgency operations of dubious utility. Moreover, if we wish to maintain the international order that we’ve established and benefited from for over half a century—and we should—we’ll need to spend something.

But there are those who think we must prepare for war to avoid it and who are willing to spend the money—but still think AirSea Battle and its kin are a bad idea. They worry that preparing for a war with China would exacerbate Sino-American arms competition and really worry that, in the event of war, the actions the United States would need to take to beat China would be so threatening or insulting to Beijing that they could very well lead to unrestrained and ultimately nuclear war. Amitai Etzioni, a respected scholar and leading critic of AirSea Battle, recently summarized this view: “Critics of Air-Sea Battle warn that it is inherently escalatory and could even precipitate a nuclear war.”

This set of opponents of AirSea Battle think we should go another way. Retired Marine colonel T.X. Hammes of the National Defense University, a highly regarded strategist and perhaps the leading member of this school, argues, “[T]he United States must accept that China’s nuclear arsenal imposes restrictions on the way American forces might attack Chinese assets. The United States must select ways that minimize the probability of escalation to nuclear conflict.” To Hammes, this means, for instance, “[n]o operations should penetrate Chinese airspace. Prohibiting penetration is intended to reduce the possibility of nuclear escalation and to make war termination easier.” Hammes proposes an alternative strategy of “Offshore Control” that relies on a “distant blockade” of China to bring it to heel. And Hammes is not alone—this point of view has an influential following, including in Congress.

The Pentagon hasn’t said publicly what an AirSea Battle-style campaign would look like. But what the Defense Department has released makes it absolutely clear that Hammes and co’s strategy would completely emasculate the approach. The AirSea Battle concept, for instance, states that the “central idea” of the concept is that the United would undertake “attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces,” specifically against the most dangerous adversary assets—such as precision-guided missiles, tactical command and control, reconnaissance sensors, and the like. Now, you don’t need to be a China expert or a cunning strategist to see that basically all of those items would be in China in the event of war between our nations. Taking them off the table would mean allowing the Chinese to operate those forces with impunity in a conflict.

If Hammes’ strategy of Offshore Control were workable or if he were right that anything like penetration of Chinese airspace would pose too much of a risk of nuclear escalation, then he would have a very powerful point. Naturally, the United States should avoid doing things that stand even a very low but real chance of resulting in nuclear attacks against our country or our allies. But the problem with his and his confreres’ argument is twofold. First, their strategy is very unlikely to work, and so something like AirSea Battle that enables effective American power projection is needed; second, an AirSea Battle-style approach, properly conducted, would almost certainly not lead to nuclear Armageddon.

The Trouble with Offshore Control

The first problem is that Hammes’ replacement strategy just isn’t workable. In his summary, his strategy of “Offshore Control seeks to use a war of economic attrition to bring about a stalemate and cessation of conflict with a return to a modified version of the status quo.” The approach relies on a “distant blockade” enforced by U.S. forces operating outside the bands of Chinese military striking power to “intercept and divert the supertankers and post-Panamax container ships essential to China’s economy.” In other words, the United States would seek to win by interfering with China’s export/import-reliant economy.

There are multiple problems with this approach. First off, it’s of questionable operational feasibility and fiscal sustainability, at least in the longer term. If the Chinese know the United States has given up the close-in flight implied by AirSea Battle, then they can orient more of their military procurement and their research and development to contesting the distant fight presented by our attempt at blockade.

Instead of spending more of their accumulating resources on land-based antiship missiles, then, the Chinese could spend more on air and sea escorts for their merchantmen, antisubmarine warfare, disruption of our command and control of our blockading forces, and so on. Moreover, it’s a basic principle that it’s usually more expensive to react to your opponent than to pick your own preferred battlefield.

Given the budgetary strictures facing the Pentagon, is a strategy that requires that our forces enforce a blockade across the Pacific and Indian Oceans without also imposing pressure in the Western Pacific likely to be more or less expensive than AirSea Battle? Probably more.
Furthermore, a blockade of the type Hammes envisions would require extensive, substantial, and enduring cooperation from the widest possible array of other countries—including many not known as particularly friendly to U.S. interests, such as Russia. It is hard enough to keep a sanctions coalition against pariah countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. What makes Hammes think that countries would have an interest in participating, let alone sustaining, a blockade against the world’s uber-emerging market?

But leave aside for a moment the issue of feasibility. A war between the United States and China would get both sides’ backs up, to say the least; issues of national pride and credibility would be very much at issue. Such a war would presumably involve the question of who would be the dominant power in East Asia and perhaps beyond. The stakes would be high and emotions heated. In this context, would a strategy of distant blockade really compel the Chinese to settle on terms we could accept?

It’s worth noting that a strategy of blockade has never worked without actual military victory—it didn’t work in World War II, in World War I, or against Napoleon. It was important to victory—but it wasn’t anywhere near sufficient. Moreover, such a blockade would be a two-edged sword; we would be cutting off Americans from the world’s mega-exporter, and we can assume that the Chinese would be trying to interrupt our trade flows to boot. In this context, which side is more likely to be prepared to endure the privations involved? The country that underwent the Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, and a ferocious civil war in the last century, and that is in living memory of fearsome poverty? Or the country that (blessedly) has been the world’s byword for prosperity and freedom from fear and destitution since, well, forever? And place this question in its proper context; the fight would not be over Puerto Rico or Nantucket Island, but rather over primacy in China’s neighborhood, about disputes that are familiar to Chinese ears rather than utterly obscure and exotic, as they would probably be to the vast majority of Americans.

Finally, distant blockade might work for Americans, but what about the U.S. allies and partners for whom U.S. aid would be equivalently “distant”? Obviously U.S. policy cannot be driven solely or even primarily by solicitude for its allies, but, given that any U.S. contest with China would almost certainly be at least to some degree motivated by fears for the security or autonomy of U.S. allies or partners, their concerns would logically need to be considered with great care and concern. But in Hammes’ vision they would be left essentially prey to Chinese military power. He and others of like mind argue that U.S. allies should be given capabilities to defend against Chinese aggression or coercion—a kind of porcupine model—but this essentially ignores the problem. If Chinese military power could be dealt with by selling Japan and other U.S. allies and partners advanced weapons of their own, then the problem would be easy—but it’s not. The likely size and sophistication of China’s future military is such that it will very likely be able to overcome and ultimately overwhelm the defensive capabilities of our allies in the region—that’s a big part of the reason why our allies are so insistent that we stick around. In Hammes’ vision, then, these allies would be exposed to Chinese air, naval, and missile attack, and perhaps more, without the chance of destroying or suppressing those sources of attack and without hope of real U.S. military intervention on their behalf. It’s not at all clear why U.S. allies and partners would regard this as credible or sufficient—with serious implications for how they would decide to behave in terms of their dealings with China and their own military-strategic courses of action. Kowtowing or, at the other extreme, pursuing independent nuclear-weapons programs, might make more sense than a military posture of waiting for the Americans a la Britain 1940.

AirSea Nuclear Danger?

So Hammes and Co.’s replacement strategy doesn’t make much sense. But he and those who agree with him would still have a very powerful point if they were right that an AirSea Battle-style approach would be too likely to lead to nuclear escalation by China. But they’re not. An AirSea Battle-style approach in a war with China—if conducted with due concern for managing escalation—would not be likely to lead to nuclear war, and especially not to an exchange of nuclear weapons against population centers.

The basic reason why this is so is that, even in the event of a major war, both the United States and China would have the weightiest possible reasons not to escalate to a nuclear exchange.
For the United States, the rationale for limiting such a war is abundantly clear. Such a war would almost certainly be fought about issues in the Western Pacific remote from questions of national survival, and would be fought under the shadow of a Chinese nuclear-weapons capability that, while far smaller than that of the United States, would have to be reckoned by any president as presenting a very probable second-strike capability—a combination that would be sure to make the limitation of the war of the highest priority for Washington. The United States might seek to constrain the war through a number of avenues, such as by bounding its attacks on the Chinese mainland within a territory close to the war zone or by avoiding highly valued or emotional targets (like leadership facilities). U.S. nuclear use in such a conflict could only reasonably be contemplated in extreme circumstances in which the Chinese struck first or in which U.S. conventional power had failed to arrest Chinese assaults against U.S. forces or territory or against U.S. allies in the region—the latter being precisely the eventuality AirSea Battle tries to avoid. Even in such circumstances, any sensible nuclear use by the United States would have to be limited, discriminate and designed to promote deescalation.

Of course Hammes and Co.’s worry is more that China would be the one to escalate. But this is to drastically underestimate China’s own incentives to avoid escalation to the nuclear level. The brute fact, which Beijing is well aware of, is that the United States enjoys a massive advantage both in the size and in the flexibility of its nuclear forces. Chinese leaders are well aware that any Chinese nuclear attack—and certainly one against the population centers of the United States or one of its allies—would invite a U.S. nuclear response. And, while the United States would desperately want to avoid a nuclear conflict with China, China’s leadership would want to avoid it even more, as that is a war that China would most certainly not win. Indeed, undertaking a nuclear war with the United States would be tantamount to destroying the very objectives that China’s leadership would be keen to defend in any conflict with the United States—such as the leadership of the Communist Party, the further growth and strengthening of the Chinese nation, and the like. China would therefore have exceedingly powerful incentives to avoid starting a nuclear war with the United States.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen and look at the Chinese. For one thing, they repeatedly claim that they would never use nuclear weapons first. Now, people reasonably question the how sincere and enforceable that pledge is, but the simple fact is that China’s nuclear force does not provide a rational basis for major first use against the United States—it is small, extremely destructive, and stands no chance of preventing a devastating U.S. response. China might also look to a more purely military use of its nuclear weapons—but here too it would be entering the ring as a welterweight challenging the heavyweight.

Barring major changes to the respective characters of Chinese and U.S. nuclear forces—something the United States should seek to prevent from happening—China could only really look to use its nuclear weapons first out of desperation or pique.

Moreover, the Chinese themselves act like they expect to wage a war with the United States that includes at least some attacks on the Chinese mainland without escalating to the nuclear level. Why else would they be spending huge quantities of money, time and effort on building up such a formidable air-defense system to defend against air and missile attacks against mainland China? As the Pentagon’s 2013 China military report puts it:

China has developed a national integrated air defense system (IADS) to defend key strategic cities and borders, territorial claims, and forces against threats from the air. Overall, China’s IADS represents a multilayered defense consisting of weapons systems, radars and C4ISR platforms working together to counter multiple types of air threats at various ranges and altitudes. One of China’s primary goals is to defend against precision strike munitions such as cruise and ballistic missiles, especially those launched from long distances.

These investments would be totally nonsensical if China were expecting to rely on its nuclear forces to respond to U.S. conventional attacks on the mainland. China’s leaders are many things, but foolish and irrational don’t seem to be among of them. Rather, China appears to be planning to look primarily to its growing conventional air-defense network—not nuclear strikes—to deal with the threat of air and missile attacks against the mainland.

Now, obviously if the United States launched a massive conventional (let alone conventional and nuclear) attack aimed at decapitating the Chinese regime or ejecting the Communist Party from power, then Hammes and Co.’s fears would be far more justified. But, given what we know, that is definitively not the AirSea Battle approach. Rather, it focuses on employing conventional forces against an adversary’s conventional forces in ways designed to maintain or achieve the upper hand in a conflict. Left to its own devices, of course, such an approach could inadvertently go about its business in ways that could well raise the chances of nuclear war—for instance by targeting military capabilities that are important not only for conventional purposes but also for the survivability of China’s nuclear forces.

But this is not a reason for dumping the project, but rather a reason why it is essential that serious thinking about China and its way of war and about the dynamics of nuclear strategy and escalation go into shaping the evolving AirSea Battle concept and its related approaches. Great care must be taken to minimize the chances of inadvertently elevating such a conflict to the nuclear level. Logical steps include observing geographic boundaries for such a fight, cordoning off certain kinds of targets, and clearly and credibly communicating efforts at limitation to an adversary. But these are not things that can be done well at the last minute or improvised in the moment. Rather, such efforts at limitation must be integrated into plans well before the onset of conflict, and, more broadly, U.S. and allied militaries must be made accustomed to preparing for war with China with the full knowledge that such limitations would be an integral part of it.

Needless to say, even with such cautionary steps the chances of escalation, including to the nuclear level, would remain entirely and frighteningly real. At best, embarking upon a Sino-American war would be immensely risky and almost certainly destructive for both sides; at worst, issues of national honor could become central and things could get truly out of control, leading to a worst-case outcome of nuclear war. Both sides should therefore make every reasonable effort to mitigate tensions and avoid war if at all possible. War should only be contemplated as a genuine option if the most serious interests are threatened and cannot be adequately protected in other ways.

But a too great focus on avoiding war at the expense of preparing for it would be to make conflagration more likely, and would surely imperil U.S. and allied interests in the region and beyond by inviting China (and other potential opponents) to capitalize on American reluctance to risk conflict. Countries pursue advantage and interest even in a world shadowed by nuclear weapons, and so there is no escape from the politics and strategy of seeking to strike the right but always-changing balance between effective deterrence, which rests on the credible threat to go to war, with the sacred desire for peace. That means that the old saw remains true, that the best way to avoid war is to prepare for it. AirSea Battle and its cognate approaches reflect this enduring truth, and should be commended, encouraged, and funded—even as they are zealously watched to ensure that they do not lead us to Armageddon.

Elbridge Colby is a principal analyst at CNA, where he focuses on strategic and deterrence issues. He previously served in a number of government positions, most recently with the Office of the Secretary of Defense working on nuclear-weapons policy and arms control.
http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/dont-sweat-airsea-battle-8804

 

 

 

 

Sorry, AirSea Battle Is No Strategy
War with China won’t be won by deep strikes. Distant, defensive deterrence and blockades suit us better.

T. X. Hammes
August 7, 2013

 

In his article “Don’t Sweat AirSea Battle,” Elbridge Colby argues that AirSea Battle Concept (ASB) provides a more effective approach for dealing with Chinese aggression than the Offshore Control (OC) strategy I’ve proposed. I certainly welcome the debate, since one of the reasons I developed OC was to stimulate discussion about strategy. Unfortunately, while Colby points out what he sees as deficiencies with OC, he never articulates the strategy ASB is designed to support. To date, ASB has only been expressed as an operational concept. This creates the difficult, if not impossible, problem of comparing a strategy to an operational concept. To be fair, the Department of Defense has stated that ASB is not a strategy and is not directed at China. Rather, it is an operational concept that supports the Joint Operational Access Concept. (It is also an office tasked with coordinating the procurement, technologies, tactics and techniques that will allow U.S. forces to defeat antiaccess/area-denial systems.)

Unfortunately, in absence of a strategy, even successful operational concepts can be a disaster. Blitzkrieg was highly successful against France. When used against the Soviet Union, it was an unmitigated disaster. Thus an operational concept cannot be judged as good or bad unless it is applied to a specific strategy. There are areas in the world where AirSea Battle might well support a strategy. China is not one of them. Moreover, the scarce resources invested to make ASB operational would be better spent on other capabilities than will be needed.

In a somewhat different way, a strategy cannot be evaluated in isolation as either good or bad. It needs to be evaluated to see if it is better or worse than another strategy that deals with the same problem. This is why I have encouraged the development of alternative strategies—to permit a discussion of the merits of Offshore Control in comparison to another strategy. I look forward to reading a strategy based on AirSea Battle but, to date, no ASB proponent has suggested one.

What Offshore Control is

Offshore Control is a military strategy for the unlikely event of a conflict with China. It uses Professor Eliot Cohen’s outline for a military strategy—assumptions, ends-ways-means coherence, priorities, sequencing, and a theory of victory. OC seeks competitive advantage by moving the conflict to geography that favors the United States using tactical actions that pit U.S. strengths against Chinese weaknesses. It also seeks to match the operational approach to take advantage of China’s cultural approach to war.

While a conflict with China is highly unlikely, the Pentagon still must prepare for it—and in a time of reduced budgets. To be successful a strategy must first be affordable. Then it must achieve four goals. It must deter China, reassure our allies, guide U.S. defense investment and, if conflict comes, resolve the it on terms favorable to the United States. Note I said “resolve the conflict” and not “win.” Colby seems to suggest a major weakness of Offshore Control is that the strategy does not seek to win. Unfortunately, he never clarifies what he means by win. Does he mean the United States achieves the elusive total victory and occupies China? Does he mean the overthrow of the Communist Party? By failing to define what he means by winning or even what he sees as success, Colby prevents a discussion of how to balance ends, ways, and means. This is a fundamental task of a strategy and is particularly important during a time of restricted means.

For those readers who have not read the Offshore Control, it seeks to deny China use of the seas inside the First Island Chain, defend the First Island Chain, and dominate the seas outside the First Island Chain. OC does not seek the surrender of China or the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party. Rather it seeks to force China to acknowledge it cannot win the conflict and allows it to declare victory and stop fighting. It seeks a return to pre-war status quo with a China that understands it cannot achieve its goals through military action. As Colby notes, it assumes a long war. Most nation-state wars of the last two centuries have been long. Thus it is prudent to plan for a long war rather than hope for a short one. OC also assumes trade will be interdicted in any major conflict with China. It is difficult to envision the U.S. population accepting continued trade with China even as it attacks U.S. bases and warships.

Deter

Deterrence is clearly the most important element. It has two components—denial and punishment. Offshore Control uses both. Defense of the First Island Chain based on using antiaccess/area denial (A2/AD) concepts denies China its war goals. It makes use of the strategic geography to force China to use its few long-range assets to penetrate combined air-and-sea defensive networks at extreme range. While we may not be able to prevent an initial attack—and perhaps even landings on islands inside the First Island Chain, a properly executed, integrated defense will be able to prevent reinforcement and resupply of such an effort. It will also provide the most effective defense of First Island Chain allies.

Punishment is two-fold. First, denial of the sea inside the First Island Chain maximizes U.S. superiority in undersea warfare and integrated air defense. U.S. and allied submarines will pursue and sink Chinese naval assets that venture outside Chinese waters. To get out of port, the Chinese fleet will have to run the gauntlet of mines and submarines. In short, Offshore Control makes use of U.S. superiority in undersea warfare and integrated air defenses to destroy any Chinese assets that venture away from her shores. Playing to our strengths rather than the defenders’ is the mark of a smart competitive strategy. Investing in offensive strategies that impose more costs on us than on the opponent is neither smart nor likely to be productive.

Second, Offshore Control punishes China’s economy. It does not seek to shut off all Chinese trade but only to raise the cost of such trade high enough that business will go elsewhere for the exports it currently gets from China. Colby, and others, have suggested that Russia can break the blockade by offering overland transit. In fact, the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Baikal Amur Mainline cross Russia from the Far East. The combined capacity of both routes will not begin to match the throughput capacity of China’s ports. In addition, due to gauge differences between Chinese-Russian and Russian-European rail lines, all containers will have to be shifted to new trains twice. Currently, it costs roughly $5000 more per container, or twice as much, to rail a container from western China to eastern Europe as it does to move it to China’s east coast and ship it by sea. As demand for rail transport increases sharply, so will costs. Rail does save time, but temperature-sensitive materials may not be shipped during the winter due to the extreme cold along the route.

Offshore Control does not suggest blockade will cause China’s economy to cease functioning only that it will make it noncompetitive globally. Domination of the sea and air space outside the First Island Chain allows the United States to selectively intercept those ships that trade with China. By violating the blockade, they became subject to seizure and sale in prize court. The seizure and sale of some of these ships will immediately result in massively higher shipping charges by those shippers and insurers willing to risk the blockade.

Given that the Chinese Communist Party stakes its legitimacy on providing a better future for its people, Offshore Control strikes at the legitimacy of the Party. The Party can choose to continue the fight in hopes of defeating the distant blockade, escalate to attempts to invade the First Island Chain or even to nuclear exchange. Or it can do what it has done in the four conflicts it has fought since 1949. It can declare China has taught the “aggressor” a lesson and cease hostilities. The CCP has done this regardless of whether the war was going well (India), badly (Korea, Vietnam), or was essentially a draw (the Zhenbao Island Incident with the Soviets).

Assurance of allies and friends in the region is the second requirement of a strategy. China is the largest trading partner for most of the nations of Asia. As a result, they turn to China for economic growth but still rely on the United States for security. The American failure to express a strategy has led to confusion and uncertainty, even among our allies in the region. They are uncertain both of our position and what the we expect from them.

Offshore Control asks only that allies and friendly nations assist in the defense of their own territory. It assures them U.S. forces will NOT strike into China and not make them a target. This makes it much easier for allies and friends to participate in combined exercises. It will also help focus allies on purchasing their own A2/AD systems. A2/AD works both ways. Defense of the First Island Chain takes advantage of this fact. It forces China to use its limited long range assets to penetrate combined, integrated defenses to reach First Island Chain targets. In doing so, it shifts the cost to China and the geographic advantage to the United States and its allies.

Of particular importance, Offshore Control can be openly discussed and exercised with our allies. The United States will be able to demonstrate it can execute its strategy to both our allies and China.
Guide
Guiding defense investment in a time of declining budgets is a critical aspect of strategy. Colby suggests I support “excessively expensive counterinsurgency operations.” This is an odd charge. In fact, I have stated my opposition to direct, large COIN and note that the administration’s guidance has specifically directed DoD to NOT plan for such contingencies. That said, there are also significant savings to be had by not spending the enormous funds necessary to prepare for a continent-sized campaign against a sophisticated air-defense system.

Rather than spending our money to penetrate Chinese air defenses, Offshore Control proposes reversing A2/AD and imposing the cost of penetrating the First Island Chain defenses on the Chinese. Given the current and projected defense budgets, it is essential a strategy be practical under those reduced budgets. OC can be achieved with today’s assets. If adopted, it will guide investment to undersea warfare, mines, alternative cyber connectivity and non-space-based surveillance systems. In short, OC seeks affordable solutions rather than very-high-technology systems. This, too, is a mark of a strategic approach rather than simply engineering an exquisite solution for its own sake.

AirSea Battle fails to deter, assure, or guide

Deterrence is based on the other side believing you can deny its goals as well as punish it for trying. While we have no unclassified statement of the AirSea Battle concept, it does seem to rely heavily on a “networked, integrated force” that can strike deep. This implies heavy use of digital networks as well as comprehensive surveillance of major portions of the Chinese mainland. China has clearly been working to defeat these capabilities. On January 11, 2007, China destroyed a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. From 2006 to the present, they have repeatedly used lasers to dazzle U.S. satellites in Low Earth Orbit. From TITAN RAIN to BYZANTINE ANCHOR, China has also demonstrated the ability to penetrate U.S. cyber systems—even classified systems. If China believes it can defeat ASB through action against U.S. space and cyber systems, then ASB loses much of its deterrent effect.

In fact, the very existence of a serious AirSea Battle capability is escalatory. In a recent article in Foreign Policy, David Gompert and Terrence Kelly note that ASB pushes China to a first strike.
Given that, to be most effective, AirSea Battle would need to take down Chinese targeting and strike capabilities before they could cause significant damage to U.S. forces and bases. It follows, and the Chinese fear, that such U.S. capabilities are best used early and first—if not preemptively, then in preparation for further U.S. offensive action. After all, such U.S. strikes have been used to initiate conflict twice in Iraq. This perception will, in turn, increase the incentive for the PLA to attack preemptively, before AirSea Battle has degraded its ability to neutralize the U.S. strike threat. It could give the Chinese cause to launch large-scale preemptive cyber- and anti-satellite attacks on our AirSea Battle assets. Indeed, they might feel a need, out of self-defense, to launch such attacks even if they had not planned to start a war. It is a dangerous situation when both sides put a premium on early action.

In contrast, Offshore Control moves into place deliberately—and since it can be executed without full space or cyber capabilities, the incentive for first strike is reduced. Equally important, we don’t have to attack their warning systems, and differentiate between their tactical networks and their strategic warning systems. Inadvertently blinding the assets used to direct their strategic-response systems could be the trigger to a first use. We do not have much historical evidence for evaluating conflict between nuclear-armed powers. In the US-USSR Cuban Missile Crisis, the USSR-Chinese Zhenbao Island Incident, and the India-Pakistan Kargil Crisis, the leaders on each side sought to slow and contain the crisis. Do we really want to select a military strategy that puts the President in the position of conceding great advantage if he fails to strike preemptively? Given that Truman and Johnson refused to strike China when hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were in combat, are we sure a future President will authorize an extensive strike campaign into China? Even worse, do we want to select an approach that convinces Chinese leaders they must strike first to protect their homeland?

AirSea Battle also fails to assure allied and friendly leaders. While we can exercise all the elements of Offshore Control with our allies to openly demonstrate we can achieve what we state we will, ASB remains cloaked in secrecy. Senior Japanese civilian and defense officials have told me they are very concerned that the United States does not share its plans. The lack of knowledge of U.S. military strategy makes it very difficult for the Japanese government to develop its own strategy. U.S. officers note that many of the systems are in Special Access Programs and thus they not only can’t talk to allies about the project, they do not have access themselves. Essentially, ASB assurance is based on telling our allies to “trust us.” It’s not working.

Misconceptions about Offshore Control

Colby makes some statements that indicate he has some misconceptions about Offshore Control. He states OC will leave our allies “essentially prey to Chinese military power,” and “give up the close-in fight.” Apparently, he did not read the sections on defense of the First Island Chain and denying the Chinese use of the seas inside the First Island Chain. OC focuses investments on destroying Chinese assets that enter international sea or airspace, as well as on defending First Island Chain allies.

He further contends that Offshore Control lets the Chinese pick the “preferred battlefield.” In fact, under OC we select where we will fight as well as where we will blockade. Colby wants to play to the Chinese strengths on their home field, which is their preferred battlefield. Selecting the battlefield is one of the traditional advantages of the tactical defense. We can decide where inside the First Island Chain we fight as well as where and how we enforce the blockade. In contrast, any AirSea Battle penetrating campaign must go where the targets are—and China selects where to put its key assets as well as how to site defenses around them. ASB clearly lets China select the battlefield.
Colby states that Offshore Control emasculates AirSea Battle by not conducting deep attacks into Chinese territory. However, if the point of ASB is to defeat anti-access/area denial systems, then it appears the objective of ASB deep strikes is to allow U.S. forces to get close enough to China to conduct strikes into China. In short, it focuses on attacking tactical targets to enable more of the same tactical actions by the United States. Complicating the effort to determine the strategic impact of such a campaign, ASB proponents fail to explain how we will find the “precision-guided missiles, tactical command and control, reconnaissance sensors, and the like.” Given our track record against mobile missiles in the uncontested air space and relatively simply terrain of Iraq, how do ASB proponents suggest we search a continent-sized country with cities as complex as Shanghai? Do we think China will position its missiles and command and control in the open? Or will they either be hidden in tunnels, garages, mines, etc.?

Even if they are outside, will the trucks be painted green, or will they bear the colors and shape of a Coca-Cola tractor trailer and move about a city? While “killing the archer” is a great bumper sticker, it really means playing whack-a-mole in highly contested airspace.

In contrast, Offshore Control is strategically and operationally offensive but tactically defensive. Tactical actions are guided by an operational campaign to attack Chinese strategic assets.
Colby also has some misconceptions about escalation. He seems to think U.S. concerns are limited to nuclear escalation. However, as outlined above, much of the concern is about the initial escalation that moves from crisis to open warfare. Colby states that AirSea Battle, if done properly, can effectively manage escalation. Colby assumes the U.S. can conduct a precision campaign without stimulating escalation.

This assumes a level of precise intelligence that has been missing in our last few conflicts. Given the fact we mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, the Chinese may not be as confident we will limit our attacks to tactical targets.

I am also concerned about potential nuclear escalation. Four thousand years of recorded military history show people are poor at controlling escalation once a war starts. In fact, Clausewitz cautioned that once war starts, passion tends to dominate the primary trinity of passion, chance, and reason. Given that the United States does not understand China’s decision-making process for the employment of nuclear weapons, this seems an egregious risk. The risk is magnified by the low return even if the strikes succeed. If the strikes succeed, we gain the ability to continue to strike into China. Unless we believe Douhet will finally be right and bombing will defeat China, what is the theory of victory for an AirSea Battle-based campaign? Do we risk nuclear conflict in order to gain the “advantage” of conducting a conventional-bombing campaign against a continent-sized state?

As a clinching argument, Colby suggests that the larger U.S. nuclear arsenal means China cannot “win” an exchange. I am not sure the American people are willing to risk the destruction of a dozen or so major U.S. cities to find out.

Prepare for war

It is an old adage that the best way to prevent war is to prepare for it. Like many adages it assumes a certain level of common sense. You must be able to pay for the preparation. If you cannot afford the plan you have for war, you are not preparing by pretending you can afford it.

We are facing massive defense-budget cuts. Polls indicate the American people want even deeper cuts. Strategists have to balance ends, ways and means. If the means are restricted, then the ways must be altered.

Thus it is vital the United States develop an affordable, executable strategy for the unlikely event of a conflict with China. It must deter China, assure allies, guide investment and, if needed, achieve a favorable conflict resolution. I proposed Offshore Control as a way to fill those requirements. I hope others will propose different strategies. Only by comparing strategies to each other can we evaluate them. As the Germans learned, an operational concept simply won’t do.

 

T.X. Hammes is a Distinguished Research Fellow at National Defense University. These views are his own and do not reflect the views of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/sorry-airsea-battle-no-strategy-8846

 

 

 

 

A2/AD and Wars of Necessity
Sam J. Tangredi
December 8, 2013

 

The ongoing and often contentious debate concerning AirSea Battle has focused on whether the concept constitutes an adequate “strategy” for the United States. Moving beyond the simple observations that a concept in itself is not a strategy, and that most aspects of the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle effort remain (at least publicly) unclear, the debate tends to conflate proposals for methods of countered anti-access strategies with the necessary planning for potential wars of necessity. Unlike wars of choice, wars of necessity can’t just hurt America or our economic or political standing in the world—but can literally destroy us. To understand how the debate gets off track requires us to examine, first, the history-spanning strategy that is anti-access warfare, and, second, the reality that anti-access warfare is but one aspect of a much larger planning challenge—how to deter or, if unfortunately necessary, successfully fight a major war against a hoping-to-someday-be-a-near-peer-competitor opponent. Hopefully, the AirSea Battle effort is more about the latter rather than merely the former, as important as it is.

Wars of Necessity

Those number of nations against which we could potentially fight a war of necessity remains mercifully small: China; Iran; North Korea; Russia in the “near abroad” or in the eastern NATO states. Most other conflicts that we could potentially intervene or get drawn into by our own political decisions are indeed wars of choice. Syria, for example, is a humanitarian disaster with tremendous suffering, but if the United States does not intervene, the effects on us remain indirect. At worse, an Assad victory will result in greater Iranian influence in areas where they already have influence. Morality or support for democracy aside, it will not shake our position in this world. This is not to say that it may not be appropriate to intervene, only that we should not build or optimize our armed forces to fight in Syrias. We should optimize our military strength to break through the anti-access networks that will constitute the initial and (if we are successful) dominant operational phase of a war of necessity. Given the relative global military power today and for the immediate future—at least the next twenty years—any war of necessity (and some wars of choice) will require a U.S. capability to defeat anti-access/area-denial weapons and strategies.

What Makes the Concept of Anti-Access Warfare Unique?

Anti-access and area denial are modern terms referring to war-fighting strategies focused on preventing an opponent from operating military forces near, into or within a contested region. Today anti-access and area-denial strategies—sometimes combined as anti-access/area denial or abbreviated as A2/AD—are designated in our national strategic guidance as primary strategic challenges to the international security objectives of the United States and its allies and partners. However, in addition to anti-access and area denial being modern terms and strategic challenges, they are techniques of strategy that have been used throughout military history. They are also historical components of grand strategy, having been used or attempted by Imperial Japan, Argentina after capturing the Falklands/Malvinas, Nazi Germany in the later stages and Great Britain in the opening phases of the Second World War, Ottoman Turkey, Elizabethan England, ancient Greeks versus the Persian Empire, and others. Along with the obvious military aspects, anti-access strategies include political, diplomatic and economic tactics, something that official documents, such as the CJCS Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC), acknowledge but have not examined.

Denying access to an enemy is a natural objective for any defender and should be considered an integral component of any military campaign. However, the terms anti-access and area denial—as currently used—are specifically meant to denote a strategic approach intended to defend against an opponent that is judged to be of superior strength or skill in overall combat operations. If the opponent is allowed to use this superior strength or skill, it is feared that the defender would likely be defeated at the point of contact. Therefore, the objective of an anti-access or area denial strategy is to prevent the attacked from bringing its operationally superior force into the contested region, or to prevent the attacker from freely operating within the region and maximizing its combat power.

The uniqueness of the anti-access approach is that it is specifically designed to prevent regional access against an out-of-area global power that the defender cannot otherwise defeat. The impetus for its modern adoption was the primary “lesson learned” from the Gulf War of 1991, where an American-led coalition strongly entrenched in the theater collapsed a numerically superior army in days.

From History to Today

Despite their defensive essence, anti-access and area-denial strategies are not exclusive to a defending or status quo power or to a tactically weaker opponent. For example, Imperial Japan’s war against the United States in the Pacific from 1941 to 1945 was an anti-access strategy designed to preserve aggressive conquests achieved in Asia starting with Japan’s capture of Manchuria in 1931 and continued in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. By the time American forces could respond effectively, Japan had already consolidated the core of its wartime empire and its conquest of the oil-rich Dutch East Indies was underway. Its objective was now to prevent reentry to the western Pacific by the one opponent with the potential for strategic superiority. With elimination of U.S. forces from the Philippines, along with defeat of the British and Dutch, the Japanese were now the tactically superior force in East Asia and the western Pacific. Their strike at Pearl Harbor was not intended as a prelude to an invasion of Hawaii or the continental United States, but to knock over the chessboard so that the Americans would decide that—as far as the Asia-Pacific region was concerned—it was too costly to put their pieces back into the game. This constitutes a classic anti-access approach.

This is the same logic that would guide Chinese (and, to a more limited extent, Iranian) use of an anti-access approach. Conducting an anti-access defense would be in conjunction with forcible annexation of Taiwan or other territorial incursion (or attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz). There are simply no other reasons for a major war in those regions. The point of activating an anti-access campaign is to prevent outside interference in such objectives. In such a scenario, China would not need to “defeat” U.S. naval and air forces—only to keep them out of the region through attrition. At the same time, it would seek to neutralize or destroy land-based U.S. air forces (and perhaps allied air forces) already in the region.

What Strategy Should We Adopt?

Returning to the question of whether AirSea Battle constitutes a strategy in itself, the answer itself is “no.” Countering an anti-access network—whether Chinese, Iranian or other—is simply a necessary aspect of an overall warfighting (and political and economic) strategy. However, it may be the dominant aspect for two definite reasons. First, if we can’t successfully defeat anti-access networks and enter the region, all our other power projection forces become pointless—they can have no effect on the outcome. Secondly, an obvious capacity to neutralize anti-access networks could act as an effective conventional deterrent—causing potential aggressors to conclude that their actions are a gamble that could be reversed.

But if not a strategy, should the AirSea Battle concept be pursued as an organizational, doctrine development, or acquisition effort? Absolutely. Without definite efforts and capabilities to counter a Chinese anti-access network, we will lose our ability to militarily intervene in a conflict in East Asia, and perhaps our influence in Asia-Pacific overall. That’s what China wants.

In addition to pursuing the AirSea Battle initiative as a first step in ensuring the joint force can counter such objectives, other necessary, but thus far underdeveloped efforts would include political, diplomatic, and economic measures to help buttress Asian allies and potential partners in countering China’s creeping sovereignty efforts such as the recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The ADIZ is simply a “peacetime” effort to provide “legal” justification for developing a robust anti-access network to intimidate its neighbors (and—in PLA logic—us, too).

Would offshore control be an alternative strategy that we should adopt, as T.X. Hammes has suggested? To start off, it may appear mere semantics, but “offshore control” is a poor choice of name, because it can be easily confused (at least by non-specialists) with Harvard professor Stephen Walt’s proposed strategy of “offshore balancing”—essentially a strategic of perpetual non-interference in others’ conflicts and of “no permanent allies.” Offshore control does not advocate such, but the “offshore” term seems to imply a detachment from the individual security objectives of Asian allies—a more “remote” position that would not seek to offer any reassurance that the United States would challenge an opponent’s (China’s) anti-access strategy and network. Admittedly, that may be a caricature of the offshore-control approach, but I would more properly characterize it as wartime campaign planning rather than a strategy per se—with some logically sound operations, such as cutting off all maritime commerce (particularly oil) from China—exactly how we started to collapse the Imperial Japanese anti-access effort. It may evolve to more of a strategy with more development and increased inclusion of supporting political, diplomatic and economic policies. (But T.X., please change the name! Doing so will reduce some of the misgivings of critics right off the bat.)

So what sort of strategy should we adopt? First, it must be a strategy that differentiates the force structure (and decisions) needed to conduct a war of necessity from that appropriate for limited wars of choice.

Secondly, however the strategy may be developed; it must incorporate a primary focus on defeating an opponent’s anti-access strategies. In such scenarios as an East Asian conflict and others— as I describe in my latest book—in Northeast, Southwest and Central Asia (and even East Europe), collapsing an anti-access network will be the prerequisite effort on which all other military operations hinge. If we don’t make plans to do that, all other planning will be ineffective.

 

Sam Tangredi is Director, San Diego Operations for the planning-consulting firm Strategic Insight. While on active duty, Captain Tangredi held strategic planning positions such as Head of OPNAV’s Strategy and Concepts Branch. He earned a Ph.D. in International Relations, has published widely on defense issues, and is a recipient of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Arleigh Burke prize and the U.S. Navy League’s Alfred Thayer Mahan Award.

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/a2-ad-wars-necessity-9524?page=3

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Die US-Debatter über ASB/JOAC versus Offshore Controll wurde auch schon von linker Seite thematisiert–so z.B. von der World Socialst Webseite der trotzkistischen 4. Internationale:

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US analysts debate plans for war against China

By James Cogan
10 February 2014

Last November’s declaration by the Chinese government of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) reignited a debate within a narrow circle of American strategic analysts—most of whom have served in the military and various government positions for the Bush or Obama administrations. Summing up its content, one of its participants last year characterised the debate as “the war over war with China.”

The provocative flying of US military aircraft through China’s ADIZ by the Obama administration and the Japanese government posed the possibility of armed clashes in East Asia. This fact prompted renewed criticism of the current US military doctrine, known as AirSea Battle, on the grounds that its tactics make “escalation” to the point of nuclear war a virtual certainty.

Two critics from the RAND think tank, David Gompert and Terrence Kelly, described AirSea Battle last August in the following terms: “US forces would launch physical attacks and cyberattacks against the enemy’s ‘kill-chain’ of sensors and weaponry in order to disrupt its command-and-control systems, wreck its launch platforms (including aircraft, ships and missile sites) and finally defeat the weapons they actually fire. The sooner the kill-chain is broken, the less damage US forces would suffer, and the more damage they will be able to inflict on the enemy.”

Gompert and Kelly noted that Chinese military planning would take into account that the US twice launched pre-emptive air assaults on Iraq, in 1991 and 2003, to wipe out its command-and-control and limited air defence systems. The very conception of destroying China’s defensive network before it could retaliate, they commented, meant that “with the advent of AirSea Battle, there is the danger that the US and China are both moving toward military postures and embracing operating concepts—if not war-fighting plans—that create spiralling incentives to act first.”

In other words, a clash last November between US and Chinese aircraft in the ADIZ could have prompted either side to launch a full-scale military response before the other did—up to the point of a desperate Beijing regime deciding to use its nuclear arsenal before it was wiped out by US strikes.

The issue in this debate is not whether United States should be actively planning and preparing for a war on China. The strategists involved take it as a given that the US should use its military might to maintain the dominant position it has held in the Asia Pacific and internationally since the end of World War II.

As Seth Cropsey of the Hudson Institute, another critic of AirSea Battle, told a US Senate subcommittee last December: “With China, our objective ought to be to prevent the rise of an Asian hegemon, a power that would destroy the current US alliance system in Asia, dominate the world’s most populous region economically and militarily, and perhaps extend itself into Eurasia and beyond.”

The differences among the analysts are solely over the methods to be employed to contain, and if necessary, crush China as a potential rival to US hegemony.

The alternative being advocated, supposedly to lessen the likelihood of a nuclear holocaust, is largely based on a document written in 2012 by Thomas X. Hammes, titled “Offshore Control: A proposed strategy for an unlikely conflict.”

Hammes, a former marine colonel, authored several books on counter-insurgency warfare. He came to prominence in 2006 when, alongside two other ex-military officers, he criticised the conduct of the Iraq invasion and called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. In 2011, Hammes authored criticisms of the Obama administration’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan, calling it a “failure in the making.” Currently a senior research fellow at the National Defense University, he has published several articles since December promoting his “Offshore Control” plan.

In summary, Hammes proposed in 2012 that the US repudiate direct attacks on targets located on the Chinese mainland and focus instead on preparing for an economic blockade of China, which is included within AirSea Battle but only as a secondary aspect.

Offshore Control, he wrote, “seeks termination of the conflict on US terms through China’s economic exhaustion without damage to mainland China’s infrastructure or the rapid escalation of the conflict… It recognises the fact that the concept of decisive victory against a nation with a major nuclear arsenal is fraught with risks, if not entirely obsolete.”

Hammes advocated that the US military instead “cripple China’s export trade, which is essential to China’s economy.” This would involve sinking or intercepting and turning back vessels—in other words, what in peacetime would be piracy on a mass scale. He noted that “80 percent of China’s imported oil transits the Straits of Malacca. If Malacca, Lombok, Sunda, and the routes north and south of Australia were controlled, these shipments could be cut off,” causing a massive energy crisis.

Australia, which is crucial to the Pentagon’s war plans, is central to Offshore Control. One of the major “advantages” that Hammes cited for his strategy was that “the only bases the United States requires to sustain the operation are either on US territory or in Australia.” The US would not require its facilities in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere in Asia. Countries across the region, he declared, would be “free to declare their neutrality” and stay out of the war—with the exception of Australia, which he simply assumed would loyally function as the main staging base and ally in the US military efforts to collapse the Chinese economy.

Hammes concluded: “Rather than seeking a decisive victory against the Chinese, Offshore Control seeks to use a war of economic attrition to bring about a stalemate and cessation of conflict with a return to a modified version of the status quo.”

A self-confessed supporter of the Offshore Control plan, Mark Morris of the National War College, detailed the envisaged scenario last November:

“War starts and the United States and its allies begin offshore controlling. Chinese seaborne imports and exports are reduced drastically. Factory production drops and millions of workers are laid off; soon the numbers soar to tens of millions and perhaps a hundred million… When jobs are not found, they start protesting… Now the Chinese Communist Party is faced with tens of millions of unemployed protesters. It will try to blame some enemy that can’t be seen… Not believing the party, discontent grows and protests increase. The Chinese Communist Party orders the People’s Liberation Army to break the blockade, but the People’s Liberation Army-Navy replies that China doesn’t have the right type of Navy for that and are unable to comply with the orders. Discontent grows and protests become more worrisome to party leaders. The Chinese Communist Party declares that it has taught the foreign dog a lesson and seeks a [peace] conference at Geneva.”

Among Hammes’s assumptions was the “high probability that a conflict with China would be a long war” that “would result in massive damage to the global economy.” In plain language, a blockade of the country where over 15 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is produced, and which is the largest trading partner of at least 77 other countries, would shatter globally integrated finance, production and trade. It would trigger an economic depression, wipe out trillions of dollars in assets and destroy tens of millions of jobs. Hammes made the bizarre suggestion that, amid such a socio-economic catastrophe, “maritime geography would allow the rest of the world to rebuild trading networks without China.”

Hammes detailed the range of military and diplomatic responses that China was likely to make, which included possible attacks on Japan and South Korea, a full-scale invasion of Taiwan, challenges to the “legality of the blockade” and efforts to “bring European nations to pressure the United States to cease interfering with trade.”

Hammes’s central assumption was that the Chinese ruling elite would not retaliate with its nuclear arsenal against US and Australian attempts to destroy the country’s economy because “no-one can win a major nuclear exchange.”

Such an assumption is unjustifiable. US imperialism has attempted to economically strangle a rival before, provoking a full-scale war in which every weapon available was used. In June 1941, the US placed an oil embargo on Japan, demanding that it withdraw its forces from China and French Indo-China. The Japanese ruling elite, confronting the prospect of economic collapse and unprepared to accept US terms, responded with the attack on Pearl Harbour and the invasion of South East Asia to try to gain a quick strategic advantage. The Pacific war was marked by savagery on both sides and ended with the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Today, there are simply no grounds for assuming that a blockade of China would not trigger acts by the besieged Beijing regime that would lead to all-out war, including the use of nuclear weapons by both sides.

The documents being produced by US analysts are a staggering insight into the mind-set of individuals whose strategic views heavily influence the decisions of the American government. They are calmly debating how to fight World War III and plunge the world’s population into an abyss. While they ardently profess that they do not want a nuclear war, they are prepared to risk provoking one. In the final analysis, they consider it a better outcome than US imperialism losing its global dominance.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/10/offs-f10.html

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Weitere frühere Global-Review-Artikel zu dem Thema:

USA-zunehmend wieder kriegsbereit: Airseabattle, JOAC, Offshorecontroll

http://www.global-review.info/2015/03/09/usa-zunehmend-wieder-kriegsbereit-airseabattle-jam-goffshore-controll/

USA-die nächste Revolution in Military Affairs: JOAC und Airseabattle

http://www.global-review.info/2012/08/11/usa-die-nachste-revolution-im-military-affairs-joint-operational-access-concept-und-airsea-battle/

US-Debatte um die Chinapolitik-Kriegsgefahr gering, aber immer wahrscheinlicher

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Nach Waverider X-51-a-Test: Ausweitung der Raketenabwehr in Asien als nächste Stufe des Airseabattleconcepts gegen China

http://www.global-review.info/2012/08/28/nach-waverider-x-51-a-test-ausweitung-der-us-raketenabwehr-in-asien-als-nachste-stufe-des-airsea-battle-concept-gegen-china/

Waverider X-51-a: Die USA rüsten zum Airseabattle gegen China

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US-Asien-Strategien zwischen Westpazifik und Indischem Ozean

US-Asien-Strategien zwischen Westpazifik und Indischem Ozean

 

Über Ralf Ostner

Ralf Ostner geboren 1964 in Frankfurt am Main, 1984 Abitur in Bayern--Leitungskurse: Physik und Kunst/ Schülerzeitung. Studium der Physik (Nebenfächer: Mathematik, Chemie), Wirtschaftsgeographie (Nebenfächer: BWL, VWL) und Studium der Sinologie. 1991 Abschluss als staatlich geprüfter Übersetzer in der englischen und chinesischen Sprache am Sprachen- und Dolmetscher-Institut/München (Leiter der Chinesisch-Abteilung: Herr Zhang, ehemaliger Dolmetscher von Deng Xiaoping und Franz-Josef Strauß).Danach 5 Jahre Asienaufenthalt: China, Indien, Südostasien (u.a. in Kambodscha während des ersten Auslandseinsatzes der Bundeswehr, Interviews mit Auslandschinesen, Recherche im Karen-Guerillagebiet in Burma, Unterstützung einer UNO-Mitarbeiterin während den Aufständen in Nepal und bei UNO-Arbeit in Indien), Australien. Danach 5 Jahre als Dolmetscher, Delegationsbegleiter und Übersetzer in München. Abendstudium an der Hochschule für Politik /München (Schwerpunkt: Internationale Beziehungen). Abschluss als Diplom-Politologe (Diplomarbeit: Die deutsch-chinesischen Beziehungen 1989-2000 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der SPD-Grünen-Regierung). Delegationsbegleitung von Hu Ping, Chefredakteur der chinesischen Dissidentenzeitung "Pekinger Frühling" (New York)und prominentester Vertreter eines chinesischen Liberalismus bei seiner Deutschlandtour (Uni München, Uni Mainz, Berlin/FU-Humboldt) bei gleichzeitigem Kontakt mit Liu Liqun (Autor des Buches "Westliches Denken transzendieren"/ heute: Deutschlandberater der chinesischen Regierung).Chefredakteur der Studentenzeitschrift UNIPOL . Projekte am Goethe-Institut und bei FOCUS TV. Seit 2000 Übersetzer (chinesisch-deutsch), Graphiker, freier Schriftsteller und Blogger.
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