Military Strategy Magazine - Volume 8, Issue 1

Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2022 21 Is there a relationship between what senior U.S. officials today call “integrated deterrence” with Western strategy from an earlier era known as Flexible Response developed by NATO in 1967 to address the military threat posed by the Soviet Union and Warsaw Treaty Organization to Western Europe? There is a distinctive intellectual genealogy between these terms, which require strategists and policy makers to examine the implications for 21st century maritime strategy and naval power.[i] Deterrence is Back… Deterrence is back as a United States (and U.S. Navy) strategic priority – referred to in the current context as something called “integrated deterrence.” According to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: “…integrated deterrence means using every military and non-military tool in our toolbox, in lock-stepwith our allies and partners. Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities, and building new ones, and deploying them all in new and networked ways… all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends.”[ii] In separate remarks, Undersecretary of Defense (Policy) Colin Kahl, has emphasized the following additional elements of the integrated deterrence concept: (1) the integration of military and non-military instruments across governments; (2) making critical infrastructures more resilient in the face of disruptive attacks – attacks meant to slow coming to the aid of US allies; (3) deny the enemy the ability to realize short, fait accompli type scenario attacks on key allies.[iii] In April 2021, Austin emphasized that “the cornerstone of America’s defense is still deterrence, ensuring that our adversaries understand the folly of outright conflict.”[iv] Austin called for “the right mix of operational concepts and capabilities—all woven together and networked in a way that is so credible, flexible, and formidable that it will give any adversary pause.”[v] This integration, as noted by Austin, must occur across the domains of conflict: land, sea, air, cyber, and space—knocking down barriers to organizational cooperation along the way. Austin emphasized that integrated deterrence also must be based on four additional elements: • Must exist across platforms and systems that are not stove-piped; and which do not depend on a single service. • Ensuring that capabilities like the global positioning system can continue even if it is attacked with missiles, cyber tools, or space-based weapons. • Employing cyber effects in one location to respond to a maritime security incident hundreds of miles away.[vi] • Integrating networks with U.S. allies and partner nations.[vii] The Navy faces a number of challenges as it seeks to reacquaint itself with concepts like deterrence, escalation dominance, and the complex relationship between weapons across warfare domains. Although these concepts and relationships were used extensively to guide strategy during the last century, today they must be applied to new challenges, new technologies, and wholly different political settings than the ones that animated peer competition during the ColdWar. In short, the Navy needs an intellectual revolution as much as it needs different planning mechanisms, war fighting concepts, new weapons, and different platforms as it searches for ways to address the multifaceted challenges of deterrence and warfighting across the global commons. To move forward, the Navy should examine its experiences from 60-odd years ago to help the institution build momentum for an intellectual revolution to address current challenges. Back To Basics What is deterrence, exactly? In their landmark book Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice, Alexander George and Richard Smoke offered up the general proposition that remains valid: “In its most general form, deterrence is simply the persuasion of one’s opponent that the costs and/or risks of a given course of action he might take outweigh the benefits.” [viii] Hence, the objective of deterrence is to shape the decision making of a particular state to reduce the incentives for that state to act, and/or use force to achieve political objectives. The end result of deterrence is that no action is taken—most particularly the use of force. The concept of deterrence has been a centerpiece of U.S. strategy and defense policy in the post-World War II era that gathered momentum with the advent and spread of nuclear weapons.[ix] As an intellectual construct, the intuitive appeal of deterrence was and remains obvious, particularly as the nuclear states operationalized the capacity to build and field thermonuclear fusion weapons—the use of which would have ensured destruction on a scale that could scarcely be imagined. After all, what state would seek to start such a war, the costs of which could entail the destruction of significant portions of humanity, including the state that initiated the war? As noted by George and Smoke, navies have historically played a strong role in deterrent strategies in which the deployment of naval forces to trouble spots became a ritualized response to a crisis in which the size of the squadron/force deployed to the trouble spot became regarded as an index of the commitment of the deploying power.[x] Thus, these deployments became instrumental in the political signaling process upon which deterrence also rests, since the actors involved in the deterrence bargaining framework must also perceive that the threat to act is credible.[xi] Flexible Response and Integrated Deterrence at Sea in the 21st Century: Implications for the U.S. Navy James A. Russell