Lack of a Clear AirSea Battle Strategy Poises Risks, Study Says

A slow US response to China’s emerging anti-access, area-denial capabilities and the lack of a clear articulation of the AirSea Battle concept has led to Asia-Pacific allies questioning America’s protection, imposed greater cost on the Pentagon, and created an “increasing risk of deterrence failure,” the author of a study on the issue said July 17. Aaron Friedberg, a professor of international studies at Princeton and a former White House deputy national security assistant, said China developed its A2AD capabilities in response to what it saw as the powerful surveillance-strike complex the US military displayed in the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent conflicts. The implication of the Chinese capabilities, which “put US forces and bases, both mobile and fixed, at greater and greater vulnerability to attack” was “slow to sink in,” Friedberg said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. AirSea Battle started as a semi-formal discussion between the Air Force and Navy leaders but was formalized recently in a multi-service Pentagon office. The threat also has stimulated a lot of competing theories on how to counter the threat—ranging from attacking China to an off-shore blockade. Lack of a clear strategy has left allies concerned, Friedberg said.