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An Affordable Defense of Asia

By T.X. Hammes Atlantic Council

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An Expeditionary Warfare Unmanned Surface Vessel autonomously navigates a predetermined course through the water during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2019 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. July 12, 2019. ANTX East 2019 is an event designed to test new technology with acedemic, industry and Navy participants. (Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Nicholas Guevara)
An Expeditionary Warfare Unmanned Surface Vessel autonomously navigates a predetermined course through the water during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2019 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. July 12, 2019. ANTX East 2019 is an event designed to test new technology with acedemic, industry and Navy participants. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)
An Expeditionary Warfare Unmanned Surface Vessel autonomously navigates a predetermined course through the water during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2019 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. July 12, 2019. ANTX East 2019 is an event designed to test new technology with acedemic, industry and Navy participants. (Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Nicholas Guevara)
ANTX East 2019 explores emeging technologies for logistics and maneuver operations
An Expeditionary Warfare Unmanned Surface Vessel autonomously navigates a predetermined course through the water during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2019 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. July 12, 2019. ANTX East 2019 is an event designed to test new technology with acedemic, industry and Navy participants. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara
VIRIN: 190712-M-JM820-074

US military advantages over China are steadily eroding…

For the last two decades, China has studied the US military, identified its key weaknesses, and developed the tactics and forces best suited to exploit those vulnerabilities. These challenges are compounded by significant deficiencies in today’s US joint force across all domains of conflict—sea, air, land, space, electronic warfare, and cyber. Proposed budgets cannot overcome those deficits using legacy systems.

Therefore, the current US military strategy for the defense of Asia—a conventional defense of the first island chain from Japan to the Philippines, built on current air and sea platforms supported by major air and sea bases—needs to be adapted.

What to do…

The United States and its allies have two major advantages they can exploit—geography and emerging technologies. In Forward Defense’s inaugural report, An Affordable Defense of Asia, T.X. Hammes crafts a strategy for leveraging these advantages. Hammes makes the case that by developing novel operational concepts that take advantage of emerging technologies, while integrating these concepts into a broader Offshore Control Strategy which seeks to hold geostrategic chokepoints, the United States can improve its warfighting posture and bolster conventional deterrence. This paper advances the following arguments and recommendations.

  • The geography of the Pacific provides significant strategic, operational, and tactical advantages to a defender.

  • New operational concepts that employ emerging, relatively inexpensive technologies—including multimodal missiles, long-range air drones, smart sea mines, and unmanned naval vessels—can support an affordable defense of Asia.

  • These new technologies can and should be manufactured and fielded by US allies in the region in order to strengthen alliance relationships and improve their ability to defend themselves.

  • Autonomous weapons will be essential to an affordable defense of Asia.

Read the rest at the Atlantic Council - 

Dr. TX Hammes is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University.