A Larger Strategic Rethink

Rather than focus on the AirSea Battle construct as a point of interservice contention, policymakers would be well served to look at the concept in the context of the United States’ shifting strategic interests and how US military posture supports those interests, asserted two foreign policy experts. The ASB concept “reflects some needed rethinking in response to global changes in weaponry and military strategy in the Middle East and especially East Asia,” wrote the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon and former State Department deputy secretary James Steinberg in an Aug. 23 Washington Post opinion piece. While the Chinese have concerns that ASB targets them, Beijing should note that the concept’s underlying premise—countering the proliferation of anti-access threats and technology—has applications outside of the strategic calculus in Asia, they argued. Military innovation must be put in a broader “political strategy” that recognizes the benefits of US-Chinese cooperation as well as the risks if competition turns to conflict, they stated. “As we continue necessary military modernizations, enhanced dialogue with China’s military and foreign policy actors will become all the more important,” wrote O’Hanlan and Steinburg.