Infinity Journal Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012 - page 15

Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2012
Infinity Journal
Page 13
No discussion of direct attack on China
The publication of Air-Sea Battle’s concept of direct attack
on the Chinese mainland has not been helpful to diplomatic
relations with China. Its inherent requirement for secrecy
heightens the uncertainty over U.S. plans for the region. In
contrast, Offshore Control will allow both diplomatic and
military personnel to explain U.S. strategy and its operational
approach to the nations and corporations which count on
freedom of the seas. While the prospect of a long blockade
is clearly a tough sell, the fact remains that any aggressive
attack into China will most likely lead to a long war which
will include such a blockade. Offshore Control reduces the
uncertainty by emphasizing that the infrastructure damage
of the campaign will be minimized, thus making restoration
of trade easier.
Lower probability of nuclear escalation
Air-Sea Battle is inherently escalatory. It seeks to convince
China that the United States can overcome China’s anti-
access/area denial (A2/AD) concept,and thus place China
at risk. Unfortunately, this operational approach will depend
very heavily on U.S. space and cyber capabilities. Given the
current dominance of the offence in both cyber and space,
this creates the unintended consequence of raising the
value of a first strike.The only ways to reduce the vulnerability
of the strategy to a first strike in cyber and space is either to
create redundant systems that can immediately restore lost
systems, or not rely on those systems. Redundant systems are
very expensive and not currently funded. Further, since much
of the U.S. command network depends on commercial cyber
and space assets,it may not even be possible to restore them.
Air-Sea Battle requires early and repetitive attacks on the
Chinese mainland as well as in cyber and space. The
Chinese could well mistake attacks on conventional A2/AD
systems for attempts to blind China and destroy its ability
to command and control its nuclear forces. This is a very
dangerous form of escalation. Of particular concern, space
and particularly cyber escalation take place in seconds and
thus will drive decision makers to rapid decisions based on
preliminary reporting.
Offshore Control does
rely on extensive use of space or
cyber systems. With limited investments in alternate systems
such as HF radio and a training program, Offshore Control
can be executed even if China conducts a highly successful
first strike in space or cyber. By devaluing the first strike, such
an approach can increase the deterrence value through
reducing the incentive to start a war.
While the distant blockade required by Offshore Control
is escalatory, its execution and impact take over a period
of weeks and in no way threatens Chinese strategic early
warning or command and control systems.The combination
of transparency and limited infrastructure damage reduces
the probability of escalation.
Lower peacetime costs increase deterrent effects
To be credible, a strategy must be economically sustainable
within the projected decrease of U.S. defense budgets. Due
to lack of transparency, it is impossible to say for certain,
but seemingly Air-Sea Battle concepts require new major
procurement programs. In contrast, Offshore Control can be
executed based on current capabilities and does not require
future investments in large numbers of expensive penetrating
Reverses the cost imposition effect
The cost of systems required to penetrate integrated air
defenses is significantly higher than the cost of those
defenses. In addition, sea control is much more costly than
sea denial. By shifting the onus of penetrating integrated air
defenses and achieving sea control to the Chinese, Offshore
Control neutralizes much of China’s investment in A2/AD and
reverses the current cost imposition. If China fails to invest, it
concedes the strategic advantage to the United States.
Higher probability of allowing China to declare victory and
end the conflict
A consistent aspect of modern warfare has been the impact
of passion once war has started. Clausewitz understood that
the primary trinity of passion, chance and reason frames any
conflict, with passion often becoming the driving force once
the war starts. It is essential for today’s strategists not to lose
track of that point. If the United States conducts numerous
strikes into Mainland China, it will be much more difficult for
Chinese leadership to tell their people they taught the U.S. a
Plays to U.S. strengths
Offshore Control is built on U.S. superiority in submarines and,
with proper investment, sea mines to achieve sea denial
inside the first island chain. It then adds highly effective U.S.
air, ground, and sea-based air/missile defense systems to the
battle for air superiority over those nations that choose to
fight with the United States. Finally, it allows U.S. ground forces
to contribute to the fight by intercepting and controlling
major commercial ships. The U.S. Navy has insufficient ships
to board 900 commercial ships. However, it can put Marine
or Army boarding parties aboard each to insure it does not
trade with China.
Reverses the tactical geographic advantage
Rather than engaging Chinese weapons over their home
territory, Offshore Control forces the Chinese to send their
limited number of long-range assets into U.S. and allied
integrated air, sea and land defenses.The only exception are
Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy
T.X. Hammes
Air-Sea Battle requires early and
repetitive attacks on the Chinese
mainland as well as in
cyber and space.
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