- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PENTAGON’S AIR-SEA BATTLE

The Pentagon announced Wednesday the creation of a new office to deal with China’s growing military power in Asia, and defense officials said the office represents a harsh policy rebuke to pro-China analysts who for the past 20 years sought to minimize Beijing’s forces.

The Air Sea Battle concept grew out of concerns beginning in 2005 that the Navy and Air Force were not equipped and organized to deal with China’s new weapons - anti-satellite missiles, cyberwarfare attacks and anti-aircraft-carrier missiles, among other capabilities.

According to defense officials, one of the key players in turning around the military’s view of China’s future forces was Michael Pillsbury.

Mr. Pillsbury, a former Reagan administration defense policymaker working in the middle of the previous decade for Office of Net Assessment Director Andrew Marshall, helped change the way military services conduct war games against future Chinese forces.

Prior to that time, U.S. military war-gaming, required annually under U.S. law, had been dominated by retired Navy Rear Adm. Eric McVedon. The retired admiral was an influential CIA consultant who was dubbed by critics “Eric the Red” because he often biased war games to minimize Chinese “red team” forces in ways that would assure a U.S. “blue team” victory.

Under many of the McVedon-oriented scenarios, China could not attack Guam and would intimidate Japan into blocking the use of U.S. forces in Okinawa. Marines also were left out of the scenarios as unneeded ground forces.

If U.S. forces easily won conflicts against China, the reasoning went, then the threat was minimized. The skewed war games were then used to justify liberal U.S. China hands’ paradigm that argued if China is treated as a threat, it would become one.

Mr. Pillsbury’s landmark Office of Net Assessment study, “How to Play China as a Red Team,” changed all that.

Under new rules for war games that grew out of the study, all U.S. military war-gaming was required to structure all future Chinese forces based on two criteria: Chinese military writings and past Chinese military operations, such as the surprise attack in Korea in 1950 and the 1979 strike against Vietnam.

In recent years, Chinese military writings have shown valuable indicators for what China plans to do if a conflict breaks out with the United States. They include how to ambush U.S. aircraft carriers’ key intervention forces for defending Taiwan and how China would use submarines to close off the South China Sea’s two choke points.

Also getting credit for the new Air-Sea-Battle Concept is Adm. Robert Willard, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, who bucked Navy traditionalists who had sought to play down China’s military, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, who led his service in developing the new concept.

The Obama administration insisted that the new battle concept be couched publicly so as not to offend China by requiring officials to say it is not directed at a single country.

However, defense officials said the only nation with the forces addressed by the concept is China.

“This is a partial lifting of the veil of what is to be done about the rise of China’s military power,” was how one military officer described it.

Story Continues →