Change Your M.O.

The American way of war will have to adapt to anti-access methods rapidly proliferating in China and elsewhere, said RAND analyst Alan Vick Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. Vick warned that many US military advantages—like space dominance and the ability to have secure rear staging areas—are under unprecedented threat. The United States used to be dismissive of tactical ballistic missiles, for example, but they have the potential to be “disruptive” to US strategy, “at least in the hands of the Chinese,” since China’s TBMs are so numerous and increasingly accurate and long-ranged, he said. To adapt, the United States will have to invest more in long-range strike—both bombers and standoff cruise missiles—and put its forces increasingly farther away from adversary forces. It also will have to get serious about missile defense, since China would almost certainly “go first” in a US-China war, and the United States might lose its forward assets, said Vick. There also should be some hardening of aircraft shelters, but it’s unlikely the shelters could be hardened enough to make a big difference, he said. The United States is considering its own silo-based TBMs on Guam which could ride out a first strike and serve as a useful deterrent, said Vick. But such a move would be a provocative “finger in the eye” to China, he said. Despite anti-access capabilities advancing on many fronts, “these challenges are nothing [the United States] can’t overcome,” said Vick.