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A new form of coercion

Nations seeking to intimidate their neighbors are turning to anti-access strategies because they are cost-effective. Merely threatening to close key maritime crossroads such as the Strait of Hormuz or demonstrating the ability to cut off a country from cyberspace or international airspace can be an effective tool for regional and international coercion.

  • One, the world economy has become more interconnected, so impediments at air or maritime chokepoints have a much faster global impact.
  • Two, technological advances in sensing and precision have spurred the development of more lethal air defenses and anti-ship cruise missiles; cheaper, more integrated surveillance systems; and new weapons, such as anti-ship ballistic missiles. Improvements in automation have made these systems easier to use while proliferation has put them in the hands of a range of potential new adversaries.
  • And three, the American way of projecting force changed from placing bases and garrisons close to potential battlefields to a more expeditionary strategy whereby a smaller overseas presence is supported by forces that can surge into the area from hundreds or thousands of miles away.








The Air-Sea Battle concept

The Air-Sea Battle concept, approved by the secretary of defense in 2011, is designed to assure access, defeat anti-access capabilities, and provide more options to national leaders and military commanders. Air-Sea Battle is one of the operational concepts nested within the overarching Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) -- the Joint Force's approach to defeating threats to access.

Air-Sea Battle is not a military strategy; it isn't about countering an invasion; it isn't a plan for U.S. forces to conduct an assault. Air-Sea Battle is a concept for defeating threats to access and enabling follow-on operations, which could include military activities as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response









Breaking the "kill chain"

Air-Sea Battle defeats threats to access by, first, disrupting an adversary's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems; second, destroying adversary weapons launchers (including aircraft, ships, and missile sites); and finally, defeating the weapons an adversary launches.

This approach exploits the fact that, to attack our forces, an adversary must complete a sequence of actions, commonly referred to as a "kill chain." For example, surveillance systems locate U.S. forces, communications networks relay targeting information to weapons launchers, weapons are launched, and then they must hone in on U.S. forces. Each of these steps is vulnerable to interdiction or disruption, and because each step must work, our forces can focus on the weakest links in the chain, not each and every one.



Forces must be "pre-integrated" -- before the fight begins. This compels us to work more closely as we develop and prepare our forces.

Today, for example, instructors from the Navy's "Top Gun" school routinely train with their counterparts at the Air Force Weapons School. As part of Air-Sea Battle we are pursuing this type of inter-service cooperation between all the services, as well as within each branch of each service. Just as in tactical aviation, we are expanding our doctrine integration to include additional areas of collaboration -- such as Army air-defense forces and Marine reconnaissance units.

Two recent tests advanced our efforts to promote Joint Tactical Networking. In the first, an Air Force F-22 provided updated targeting information to a Navy submarine-launched Tomahawk missile. Similarly, in September 2012 an Army Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) ashore successfully guided a U.S. Navy SM-6 surface-to-air missile to intercept an incoming cruise missile, demonstrating the ability to extend the range of an Aegis-equipped ship to well beyond the horizon and over land. These examples show how integrating capabilities from multiple services and domains combine to provide greater range and more options for commanders.





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