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Pentagon battle concept has Cold War posture on China
One defense official said the Army is involved in cyberwarfare initiatives that would be useful for countering anti-access weapons.
“Simply put, we’re talking about freedom of access in the global commons. Increasing ranges of precision fire threaten those global commons in new expanding ways,” said a military official speaking on condition of anonymity. “That, in a nutshell, is what’s different.”
Defense officials said some administration officials opposed the new concept over concerns it would upset China. That resulted in a compromise that required military and defense officials to play down the fact that China is the central focus of the new battle plan.
A second military official said the new concept also is aimed at shifting the current U.S. military emphasis on counterinsurgency to the anti-access threats.
The office was disclosed as President Obama sets off this week on trip to Asia designed to shore up alliances. He is set to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Hawaii on Saturday.
The concept grew out of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review that, in its early stages, had excluded any mention of China’s growing military might.
China was added to the review after intervention by Andrew Marshall, director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, and Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, at the time head of the Joint Forces Command.
China military specialist Richard Fisher said the new Air Sea Battle office is necessary but may be “late in the game.”
“A Pentagon office focused on China’s military challenges in Asia or beyond will be insufficient,” said Mr. Fisher, of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “This challenge will require Cold War levels of strategic, political and economic policy integration well beyond the Pentagon’s writ.”
Said former State Department China specialist John Tkacik: “This new Air Sea Battle concept is evidence that Washington is finally facing up to the real threat that China has become an adversarial military, naval and nuclear power in Asia, and that the only way to balance China is to lend the weight of U.S. air and naval forces to our Asia-Pacific allies’ ground forces.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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