US Navy cruiser COWPENS launches Harpoon missile - 2012 02051ad2f3e44d1d1370304318

Like the Holy Trinity or the designated hitter rule, the concept known as AirSea Battle has been much discussed but little understood. The Defense Department released an official and unclassified summary of the concept for the first time this evening on a Navy website . (BreakingDefense got the document before it was made public). AirSea Battle would break down longstanding barriers: barriers to cooperation among the four armed services, barriers separating domains of conflict like submarine warfare and cyberspace, and, most problematically, barriers that have kept past crises from escalating to greater destruction and even, ultimately, to nuclear war.

Over a decade ago, Chinese military theorists started talking about “unrestricted warfare.” AirSea Battle is unrestricted warfare, American style. It’s central to a Pacific nightmare scenario with China, to reopening the Persian Gulf if it were blockaded by Iran, and to waging interservice budget battles in Washington. It’s been dissected by thinktanks, criticized by Sinophile strategists, and alternately envied and imitated by the Army. Yet unlike its acknowledged inspiration, the Army-Air Force concept of AirLand Battle against the Soviet Union, AirSea Battle remains more vague than vivid. Part of the problem is so much of it is classified, part is that the idea is still evolving, but some of the blame must fall on the Air Force and Navy, the concept’s chief proponents, who have never articulated it all that well in public – that is, until now:

Back in September, Rep. Randy Forbes, an advocate of AirSea Battle and chairman of the House armed Services seapower and emerging forces subcommittee, wrote an op-ed for us urging the services to come out with “an unclassified version of the AirSea Battle concept.” Nine months after Forbes’s entreaty and almost four years after then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates officially tasked the Air Force and Navy – joined belatedly by the Army and Marines – to develop the AirSea Battle idea, we finally have an unclassified explanation of what it actually is. Better yet, with some context and a little parsing of military jargon (which we’ll try to do here), this summary is remarkably lucid.

Start with the basics. AirSea Battle began as, and remains, an attempt to solve the operational problem known in clunky Pentagon jargon as Anti-Access/Area Denial or (even worse) A2/AD. In essence, anti-access is how an enemy keeps US forces out of a region altogether, area denial is how they bog us down once we get there, but the two inevitably overlap.

Adversaries have obviously tried to keep us out and bog us down before. The new danger, however, is that technologies that were once an American monopoly are now proliferating to China and then onwards to anyone who can buy weapons from China, which is basically anybody who’s got the cash. So after decades of US forces being able to fly, sail, and drive more or less anywhere they wanted (even roadside bombs, for all the casualties they inflict, never actually stopped us moving around Afghanistan or Iraq), we increasingly have to worry about sophisticated weapons that can reach out and touch us at long range, from “a new generation of cruise, ballistic, air-to-air, and surface-to-air missiles” (in the summary’s words) to anti-satellite and cyber attacks.

That said, the summary goes on, “even low-technology capabilities, such as rudimentary sea mines, fast-attack small craft, or shorter range artillery and missile systems” can keep us from stopping aggression “in certain scenarios” which they decline to name. (One much-discussed example, though, would be an Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipping). But it’s the high-tech threats, especially ballistic missiles and cyberattacks, that worry strategists most, not only because they could keep the US from intervening in a regional crisis but because they could enable an enemy to strike the United States itself. As the summary warns, “even the U.S. homeland cannot be considered a sanctuary.”

What the new document makes clear, in a way it has not been clear before (at least to me), is how the US military intends to respond. In essence, if an enemy can now reach out and touch us in ways and at distances they never could before, we’re going to find all sorts of ways to reach out and touch them back.

The document describes this as a “cross-domain” “attack in depth” using “both kinetic and non-kinetic means.” In plain English, this means we won’t just sit back and defend ourselves. We won’t just try to shoot down enemy missiles after they launch, block cyberattacks once they’re already underway, or jam sensors that are already scanning us, although all those defensive activities are certainly necessary. Nor will we just respond tit-for-tat, with our airplanes shooting down the airplanes that attack us, our ships shooting at their ships, our cyberwarriors hacking theirs, although such “symmetrical” forms of fighting remain important, too.

Instead, we’ll throw all sorts of wrenches into the enemy war machine at every possible point, what the top officers of the Air Force and Navy, Gen. Mark Welsh and Adm. Jonathan Greenert,  called in an article they co-wrote “breaking the kill chain.” Of course you should try to shoot down the enemy missile once it’s launched. But it’s much better to blow up the launcher before it actually launches, or to blind the radar that’s trying to find you, or, best of all, crash the enemy communications network that is orchestrating the attack in the first place, whether by blowing up their headquarters, jamming their wireless datalinks, or hacking their computers. Instead of trying to shoot down an enemy satellite, just bomb the ground control station to which it’s transmitting data, or better yet hack into that data stream to feed the enemy false information.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, in other words, throw water on it, or sand. As the summary puts it, “cyber or undersea operations can be used to defeat air defense systems, air forces can be used to eliminate submarine or mine maritime threats, or space assets can be used to disrupt adversary command and control.”

Here’s where it gets difficult, of course. All these capabilities answer to different commanders in the theater. Back home, they are all organized, trained, and equipped by four different armed services, each one further subdivided into its own stovepiped fiefdoms.

Overcoming these barriers even partially has been a decades-long struggle for what the military calls jointness. It took 20 years, for example, just to get Air Force and Navy aircraft to work properly together. Back in the 1991 Gulf War couriers had to fly the strike plans between airbases ashore and carriers at sea because the two services’ transmission systems were not compatible. Since the 1980s debacles of Desert One and Grenada, which prompted Congress to pass the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act over the objections of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Navy Secretary John Lehman, there has been tremendous progress.

In the current conflict, Army and Marine ground troops have worked together closely in Afghanistan, and Air Force and Navy planes provided close air support to both. But that’s still a long way from, for example, a Navy pilot over the West Pacific needing an enemy radar shut down in a hurry and getting an Army signals officer at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland to hack into it for him, on demand in a life or death situation. Yet that seems to be precisely the kind of thing that AirSea Battle envisions.

“The purpose of ASB is not to simply conduct operations more jointly,” the summary says sweepingly. “Commanders, whether defending or attacking, must have ready access to capabilities, no matter what domain they reside in or which commander owns them.” (The staggeringly infelicitous term the document uses to describe this concept is “networked, integrated forces capable of attack-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces (NIA/D3).” Let’s all pray that one never catches on; anti-access/area denial is bad enough).

That kind of intimate cooperation can’t be imposed by the joint theater commanders on their own, and it needs more than just better communications networks. It requires, instead, new “procedures [and] authorities” to let those operational commanders reach across traditional lines of jurisdiction and bring in capabilities they need. (The document doesn’t say, but such changes would require new Pentagon policies and perhaps new laws, developments we’ll be watching for and writing about).

This new jointness also must reach all the way back into the core of the armed services’ jurisdictions, into how troops are trained, units organized, and equipment developed and procured. The services need “mutually developed capability gaps” – i.e. a shared official analysis of the problem – and “integrated solution sets” – i.e. a shared official program to solve it. That kind of coordination would require require changes in how the services train to fight and could affect every defense contract for items more complex than combat boots.

As awe-inspiring as the ensuing turf wars will be, however, they’re not nearly as scary as the real wars. Tit-for-tat, unimaginative “symmetrical” combat – my planes dogfight your planes, my subs hunt your subs – is not a particularly effective way of winning conflicts. But it is at least modestly effective at controlling escalation. Both sides know, more or less, what to expect: If we do X, the other guy will probably do Y or Z, and Z is pretty bad, so maybe we don’t want to do X, after all.

Predictable, symmetrical responses are a big part of why the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, did not lead to war. The Soviets put missiles in Cuba, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised bombing the missile sites, but Kennedy realized Russians would strike back. So instead we used our ships to stop their ships that were trying to bring more missiles in. It was a near-run thing, but it worked, and no one got blown up. Conversely, using new weapons and tactics can provoke people to retaliate in ways you don’t expect. The Germans thought a proportionate response to the Royal Navy’s blockade of German ports would be for U-boats to sink every ship bound for Britain, including neutral ones, but Woodrow Wilson disagreed, which is why the US ended up entering World War I.

In the future AirSea Battle, that “cross-domain attack in depth using both kinetic and non-kinetic means” makes the old rulebook irrelevant. If, during some crisis over Taiwan or the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands, for example, missile launchers on the Chinese coast threaten our ships in the Western Pacific, the Chinese would certainly expect us to try to shoot down any missiles when and if they’re actually launched. But if a missile launcher is about to fire on our ships and we preemptively bomb it, is that proportional use of force or irresponsible escalation? If we strike a missile site on the Chinese mainland to protect our ships, should we expect the Chinese to retaliate against our Pacific Fleet or against Los Angeles?

Or what if, instead, we neutralize the missile threat before it ever launches, let’s say by hacking the Chinese satellite in orbit that spots our ships or the Chinese computers in Beijing that coordinate the attack? Does such a cyber-offensive count as an escalatory, inflammatory threat against the core of their national command-and-control system? Or, since nobody got hurt and nothing blew up, is it not even an act of war? If you want a chance of keeping a conflict from escalating, each side had better understand what the other considers escalation – and the fight for cyberspace has, by some measures, already begun.

It is unnervingly unclear how thoroughly the people working on AirSea Battle have thought this out. Admittedly, they’re only four years into it, and it took us much longer to work out nuclear deterrence in the Cold War.

“The argument goes both ways,” wrote one Navy officer, who’s read the classified version of the concept, in an email exchange with me today. “[You can argue either] because we are more capable (with ASB), we have a better deterrent and can avoid conflicts, or, because we are more capable, the adversary is forced to resort to nuclear weapons sooner.”

“The ASB concept assumes nuclear deterrence holds (which I know some think is a poor assumption),” the officer acknowledged. That means hard thinking about the risks of escalation “may not be as prominent in ASB discussions as some would like.”

None of this is to say that AirSea Battle is a bad idea, or inherently escalatory, or even primarily about fighting China. “The Concept is not an operational plan or strategy for a specific region or adversary,” the summary insists, as Pentagon officials have for years. When I asked Rep. Forbes and his staff about escalation, they agreed: “Air-Sea Battle is a limited operational concept; it is not a doctrine, a military strategy, or a warfighting plan” against any particular country, Forbes responded in an emailed statement.

While people may laugh behind their hands at these denials, there is some truth in them. We do need to think about fighting China, because the People’s Liberation Army is the forcing function, the cutting-edge example of an anti-access/area denial threat. But while it is unlikely we will ever go to war with China, it is very likely we will have to fight someone, somewhere who has imitated China and even bought their equipment and learned from Hezbollah’s battles with Israel. It’s similar to how we fought Soviet-equipped armies in Iraq and Vietnam without ever fighting the Soviets themselves. We put tanks and planes and missiles in Western Europe, organized according to the AirLand Battle doctrine, not to provoke the Soviet Union into attacking but to deter it.

The ideal for AirSea Battle would likewise be to deter conflict, not to escalate it. “As for escalation, the potential is there in any conflict, but I don’t see the ASB concept as directly affecting the chances either way,” the officer went on. “The sensitive game of ‘know your enemy,’ strategic posturing and messaging, and calculated risk-taking still apply as always.”

To play that game, of course, it helps for both sides to know the rules, which is precisely why official documents like this one matter. They don’t just lay out AirSea Battle for the benefit of Washington pundits. A key audience for this document is the Chinese political and military leaders. It helps inform Iranian, North Korean, and other foreign policymakers as well.

“The ongoing confusion about the actual scope of ASB is exactly why it is so important for DoD to carefully articulate the limited nature of this concept,” Rep. Forbes told me. “I have consistently argued that the success of ASB will depend not just on its implementation within the Department of Defense, but also our ability to effectively communicate its true intent to both allies and adversaries alike.”

Comments

  • Don Bacon

    It is unnervingly unclear how thoroughly the people working on AirSea Battle have thought this out

    I guess we should ask why they — who? — brought up this Navy-AirForce (not including Army) concept in the first place, and also why is J. Randy so fond of it when he (like us) doesn’t actually understand it. Is it totally anti-Army or is that only a side effect? (Budget-wise, I mean.)

    Anyhow thanks for trying to explain it in simple English, even when it’s impossible to do so. I suspect the principle frustration involves dealing with a changed weapons-world with the same obsolete production-line hardware. Now the enemy has ballistic and cruise missiles, smart mines, quiet submarines, swarming small boats armed with cruise missiles — and how do our naval fleets deal with these changes while retaining aircraft carriers and bombers. Never mind ground forces dealing with destructive fertilizer mines with Napoleonic structured ground armies — that’s not “Air-Sea.”

    Forbes: “AirSea Battle . . . is merely a thoughtful document. . . the actual AirSea Battle Office (ASBO) . . . is the heart of this effort. It is intended to manage the day-to-day implementation of the concept and oversees subject matter experts in ASB Working Groups that collaboratively develop doctrine, organization.”

    Rep. Forbes again: “The ongoing confusion about the actual scope of ASB is exactly why it is so important for DoD to carefully articulate the limited nature of
    this concept.”

    You gave it a good shot, better than anyone could expect, really, a really good shot, now the ball’s in the Pentagon court. Good luck on that.

    PS: Let’s talk (debate) about how the US got into WWI sometime.

  • Don Bacon

    for total confusion, check this out:
    Air-Sea Battle: Concept and Implementation
    28 July 09 GDF Update tasking—Secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy will:
    “Collaborate to develop a comprehensive Air-Sea Battle
    concept and associated initiatves to counter emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) challenges

    I’m kinda fond of this one:
    *Collaboratively identify capability gaps and DOTMLPF proposals relative to the ASB Concept (“NIA-D3” Central Idea)
    http://www.ndiagulfcoast.com/events/archive/38th_symposium/HolmesSymp12.pdf

    and then we have STRATCOM:
    Stratcom now is also the global synchronizer for ensuring space, cyberspace, missile defense and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities across the military. General Kehler also serves as the Defense Department’s point man for combating weapons of mass destruction — which, in hands of violent extremists, he said, pose the No. 1 threat to the United States.
    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119694

    Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of violent extremists pose the No. 1 threat to the United States! Imagine that. Good thing we have the USS Freedom. heh

  • @NotRizzo

    Very intersting to see the expanation of the attack in depth concept, most conjecture to this point has pointed to ASB being the “videogamification” of the US Military, where like in a computer simulation home game you as the commander can target whatever you like with whatever asset you want and the interface is seemless. Being able to do the same thing to an entire kill chain using non-linear and multi-level kinetic kill is even better. Say I’m Commanding a CSG in the South China Sea and I can in one order target an incoming DG-21D, the launcher, the Command Nexus, the targetting sensor (OTH or Satellite, or both!), it certainly raises the bar for an initial attack…”You mess with me you mess with my whole family!” to quote Danny DeVito…

  • ziggy1988

    Eh… What could’ve been a great article on ASB has become a badly misinformed and misguided critique of it. The author makes the same fatal mistake that many other civilian “defense writers” have made over the last 6 decades: assuming that the US can win “limited wars”, that such wars are desirable, that wars can stay “limited” for long, and that if the US limits its aims and means, the other side will be nice enough to reciprocate.

    These fallacious notions led to near defeat in Korea (where President Eisenhower saved the day by threatening to escalate with nuclear weapons) and to a humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Historically America’s adversaries have never restrained their means, and seldom their objectives.

    And when one sides pursues total war – with total means and oftentimes total objectives – while the other is waging only a “limited” war with limited aims and means – the side waging a “limited” war will definitely lose.

    The author moans that:

    “Tit-for-tat, unimaginative “symmetrical” combat – my planes dogfight your planes, my subs hunt your subs – is not a particularly effective way of winning conflicts. But it is at least modestly effective at controlling escalation. Both sides know, more or less, what to expect…

    If, during some crisis over Taiwan or the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands, for example, missile launchers on the Chinese coast threaten our ships in the Western Pacific, the Chinese would certainly expect us to try to shoot down any missiles when and if they’re actually launched. But if a missile launcher is about to fire on our ships and we preemptively bomb it, is that proportional use of force or irresponsible escalation? If we strike a missile site on the Chinese mainland to protect our ships, should we expect the Chinese to retaliate against our Pacific Fleet or against Los Angeles?”

    And what reason is there to believe that, if China invades Taiwan, the Senkakus, or the Spratlys, it will limit its means solely to physically taking these islands and will leave all US bases and units elsewhere in Asia untouched? Especially given that the US could then use these bases and units to forcibly retake the islands and thus cause China to lose all of its gains? There is no reason to believe that.

    On the contrary, there are good reasons to believe China would not limit itself and would attack US bases and units across the whole region, as well as US satellites and cybernetworks. Otherwise, why has China bought a huge arsenal of weapons designed and able to do exactly that – including at least 24 ASAT missiles and satellite-blinding lasers, over 80 DF-21 MRBMs with ranges well over 2,000 kms, and goodness knows how many DH-10 LACMs with a range of 4,000 kms? Plus the air-launched and nuclear-capable CJ-10A and CJ-20 LACMs which, if launched from an H-6K bomber, could strike targets up to 4,400 kms away from such a bomber’s base?

    It makes no sense to fight a war with one hand tied behind your back, especially when the enemy won’t do so.

    And from China’s standpoint, it makes no sense to repeat Saddam Hussein’s mistake of allowing the US to amass combat power in the region unmolested so that Uncle Sam can deprive you of your newly-won gains (Kuwait in Saddam’s case, Taiwan or the Senkakus in China’s theoretical future case).

    Your whole critique, Mr Freedberg, is based on the flawed, unproven, and now disproven assumption that a) America’s adversaries will restrain their means and goals if the US does so and will thus accept “limited war”; b) there is a rather low limit to the cost and number of casualties that America’s adversaries are prepared to bear, so the US just has to sink enough of China’s ships intercept enough of its missiles, and stop its cyberattacks, and the Chinese will become tired and cry “enough, no more!”

    Yet, IIRC, it was you who (rightly) wrote here, at least once, that it’s much cheaper to destroy a missile launcher before it fires its missile, and that interceptors are more expensive than the missiles they’re designed to shoot down. With that cost calculus, China, with its already huge missile inventory, can simply out-produce the US and overwhelm US kinetic missile defenses with superior numbers (as can Iran and NK).

    And IIRC, it is the American public that has a low tolerance for war casualties.

    You criticize plans to strike Chinese mainland if China invades Taiwan, the Senkakus, or the Spratlys. You would prefer, it appears, that the US limit itself to “proportionate”, “symmetric” response: ship for ship, missile for missile, plane for plane.

    Do you really think, Mr Freedberg, that China will refrain from attacking others if the worst consequence it can expect is a “proportional”, “symmetric” response like sinking one of their ships? If that’s the worst China has to fear in return for attacking others, do you really think China will refrain from aggression and coercion?

    Or is China more likely to be deterred if the consequences it would face for aggression would be direct bombings of mainland China itself, including the destruction of China’s warmaking capability?

    War ain’t beanbag. As General Sherman rightly said “War is a cruel thing. There’s no use in trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

    When the Barbary Pirates demanded even higher tribute than they were used to, the Jefferson admin didn’t just sink a few of their privateer ships; it sent the Marines to Tripoli.

    When the Mexicans invaded Texas, after that young republic decided to join the US, the US military didn’t limit itself to defending Texas. It invaded Mexico, captured its capital, and imposed a peace treaty on it compelling it to transfer vast swathes of land to the US.

    When the Confederates started the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln repeatedly sent invasion armies to the South – to completely quell the rebellion.

    When Japan attacked PH and Germany declared war on the US, the US didn’t just limit itself to fighting the IJN and German submarines at sea; it bombed the hell out of Japan and Germany, invaded them, and occupied them.

    When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviets didn’t just limit themselves to expelling the Germans from their soil; they invaded, captured, and occupied the eastern part of Germany.

    When, during the Springs and Autumns Period, a large, aggressive neighbor, Chu, threatened to invade Sun Tzu’s state, Wu, Sun didn’t play on the defensive. He invaded Chu first – completely surprising everyone, including probably his king.

    Do you really think the Japanese would’ve ceased attacking the US if the worst consequence they had had to fear after PH were to be a tit-for-tat bombing of a Japanese naval base?

    Wars waged purely on the defensive are extremely difficult to win – because in such wars, the enemy has the initiative, and wars are extremely difficult to win when the enemy has the initiative. For the US to win a purely defensive war, the enemy would have to either have insufficient strength to defeat US defenses or to make some monumental blunder, thus defeating himself.

    Historically, how many wars have been won by waging them solely on the defensive? Very few.

    You advocate a “proportional”, “symmetric”, direct response to possible Chinese attacks. But, as the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu taught, the symmetric, direct approach is almost always wrong, unless its aim is solely to draw the enemy’s attention away from your real approach and your real target.

    And, as Sun Tzu also taught, when an opportunity presents itself and you have the means to pursue it, you must strike quickly and mightly like a falcon striking its prey.

    Let Sun Tzu have the last word here, across over 2,500 years:

    “If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

    If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will suffer a defeat.

    If you know neither yourself nor the enemy, you will succumb in every battle.”

    • TDog

      How will we pay for the unrestricted war you so obviously advocate? The problem with total war is that it’s easier to say than to do.

      A limited war, i.e., one fought with China on proportional and symmetric terms, is the only realistic option open to us. Our economy went into a severe recession when we deployed about a hundred thousand troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. How many troops would be required to invade and occupy China?

      The nuclear threat similarly doesn’t work when the other guy can make and carry out the same threat. As a Chinese general (in)famously asked, are we willing to trade Los Angeles (or Omaha or Houston) for Taiwan?

      Past examples are not applicable in this day and age. In the past, weapons were not as disposable as they are now and manpower was in many ways more plentiful and cheaper. These days it costs about a half million dollars to train an infantryman. A single cruise missile costs about a million bucks. The F-35 costs over a hundred million dollars per plane. Our ability to fight to the last man is trumped by our inability to pay that much.

      It is funny that you quote Sun Tzu’s famous dictum about knowing oneself and knowing one’s enemy because your argument that we must engage in total warfare shows that you know little of ourselves.

    • Hammer6

      You make some interesting points, but the central point of ASB seems to be that limits should be avoided, esp. if US forces have – and can tap – capabilities that can shape the fight. Also, as TDog points out, the USA may not have the economic resources to prosecute a total war, suggesting a gap between the ends you suggest and the available means. Finally, the assumption that nuclear deterrence holds, which is fundamental to any “conventional” warfighting doctrine, seems at best a guess. Be very careful for what you ask, as you may get more than you hoped.

  • brownie

    Benchmark: Chinese military budget in current dollars: 350-360 BILLION DOLLARS.

    Also, WWI reflected the spiritual collapse of Christian Europe, nothing more, nothing less. It’s only a complicated “mystery” for those who reject Christendom and seek human reason (masonry-nationalism). No Christ = no Western Civilization = no Europe. “The suicide of civilized Europe.” (Pope Benedict XV) The EU is the final nail in the coffin of this long and tragic path towards ethnic, cultural, moral and spiritual implosion.

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    Anyone who believes this needs to read _Wired For War_ by P.W. Singer. We are graduating less that 13% of our students in engineering fields compared to the 50% of Chinese who do so, every year. We are also tenuring as few as six professors in higher sciences per year which means we are no longer attractive as a brain trust nation for students coming from abroad (no new profs = no cool openings in research programs as feathers in a students matriculation card). We are 4% of the global population and spend 50% of the worlds R&D funds yet by the time our students hit high school, they are lucky to break even at science and math with only 54% operating at grade level. Our tech lead is being exported (yes, including R&D) as multinationals outsource the last of our expertise to the very countries we are likely to face as enemies. Did I mention China owns IBM?

    It’s one thing to be vague about your doctrine because you don’t want to give away too much. But this sounds like braggadocio as empty promises in search of capability.

    Not least of the problem being that it is an echo of _Unrestricted Warfare_ (actually, the literal translation of the Chinese ideogram is /warfare without boundaries/) which is the standard of Chinese military strategy and was published **in 1999**.

    Lastly, I question the notion of a global netcentric triservice open architecture without any verbal command firewalls between services as often this kind of compartmentalization is the only thing which keeps compromise of select computer systems from becoming a universal loss of security. Since China also has a ‘professional hacker community’ of some 6,000 programmers dedicated to such wondrous activities as stealing the content of the entire internet (yes, that is the kind of computational capacity they now have), it is silly to the point of stupid to assume that we can remain secure while putting up every services capabilities into a networked CEC type ‘menu’ of executeables.

    This is insane.

  • idahoguy101

    Sending a Carrier Task Force anywhere close to the Chinese coast is suicidal until the PLA’s anti ship capabilities are neutralized. However the China Sea would be a target rich environment for our Attack Submarines.
    An Aircraft Carrier does its best work where it can be protected from being sunk.

  • Plenum

    Nobody knows what ASB will be, because nobody knows how spending cuts will affect it.