Infinity Journal Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012 - page 13

Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012
Infinity Journal
Page 11
• China starts the conflict. While it is possible to envision
scenarios where the United States would initiate a major
conflict, China starting the conflict presents the most
difficult military case for the United States because it
cedes the initiative.
• A conflict with China will be a long war. For the last 200
years, wars between major powers have generally run
for years rather than months. Since powers with major
nuclear arsenals have never fought a major war, it is
impossible to say whether the nuclear factor will shorten
the war, as was the case in the minor conflict between
the USSR and China,or lengthen the war because neither
side can seek a decisive resolution with conventional
forces. However, both the historical record and the
greater difficulty of fighting a long war make it prudent
to assume a long war.
• The United States does not understand China’s nuclear
release decision process.
Ends, ways and means coherence
The combination of decreasing defense budgets and rapid
increases in procurement costs of new weapons suggests
the United States cannot count on major increases in
platforms or systems.This indicates a strategy for conflict with
China should start with limited means. Obviously, it should
play to current and projected U.S. strengths. In addition to
limited means, the United States must accept that China’s
nuclear arsenal imposes restrictions on the way American
forces may attack Chinese assets. The United States must
select ways that minimize the probability of escalation to
nuclear conflict simply because it does not understand
China’s nuclear release process and no one can win in a
major nuclear exchange. With limited means and restricted
ways the ends selected should be modest.
This logic leads to the concept of Offshore Control.
Operationally,it uses currently available means and restricted
ways to
China the use of the sea inside the first island
the sea and air space of the first island chain,
the air and maritime space outside the island
chain. There will be no operations conducted to penetrate
Chinese airspace. Forbidding penetration is intended to both
reduce the possibility of nuclear escalation and to make
war termination easier. Instead, this strategy uses economic
strangulation to exhaust China to the point it seeks war
Figure 1 - Island Chains
The“deny”element of the campaign will establish a maritime
exclusion zone inside the first island chain. The United States
will use its dominant submarine force, mines and a limited
number of air assets to enforce the zone by sinking entering
The “defend” element will bring the full range of U.S. military
assets to protect those allies that choose to actively assist
the United States. By moving the surface Navy and air fight
away from the Chinese mainland, it will force China to fight at
longer ranges while allowing U.S. and allied forces to fight as
part of an integrated air-sea defense over their own territories.
The “dominate” campaign will be fought outside the range
of most Chinese assets by interdicting shipping in the choke
points along the Indonesian island chain and the west coast
of the Americas.The campaign will use a combination of air,
naval, ground, and rented commercial platforms to intercept
and divert the super tankers and post-Panamamax container
ships essential to China’s economy.The global total of about
900[iv,v,vi] is a manageable number for U.S. forces to control.
Figure 2 - Strategic Chokepoints
This leads us to modest ends. Offshore Control is predicated
on the idea that the presence of nuclear weapons makes
a strategy should start by listing key
assumptions so that the reader is
aware of how the writer
framed the problem
Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy
T.X. Hammes
With limited means and restricted
ways the ends selected
should be modest.
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