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Inside the Ring: Air Force Chief on air-sea battle
Outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz says the Air Force and Navy are developing “a range of initiatives” designed to counter high-technology anti-access and area-denial weaponry as part of the new Air Sea Battle Concept.
The “anti-access, area-denial” threat is Pentagon code for China’s asymmetric military capabilities that include anti-ship ballistic missiles, cyberwarfare capabilities, anti-satellite weapons, and more-conventional submarines, warships and stealth aircraft.
Gen. Schwartz said implementing the actual concept, which grew out of war games conducted in the past several years that showed U.S. forces gradually losing future conflicts to China, will be up to his expected successor, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.
“The report supports the department’s approach to enhancing the U.S. defense posture in the Asia-Pacific and highlights some of [the] key steps that will need to be taken in the future to achieve that goal.”
The report has not been made public.
Gen. Schwartz said battle concept, which remains shrouded in secrecy to avoid upsetting the Chinese, is not just about weapons systems.
“I would argue there’s a range of initiatives out there that clearly apply to Air-Sea Battle. Those things essentially are intended to address the improving anti-access, area-denial capabilities that are proliferating out there, whether they be improvements in aircraft sensors, whether they be capabilities associated with the new Joint Strike Fighter,” Gen. Schwartz said.
“The tanker has application in this respect. Clearly, there are weapons programs underway and improvements that apply.”
Reports on Air Sea Battle have said that at least 100 proposals for weapons systems and other initiatives are being discussed in the Pentagon's Air Sea Battle Office, opened in November.
The concept is not simply “some wholesale effort to underwrite [weapons] programs,” Gen. Schwartz said.
“This will be a tightly focused effort where the two services who really are responsible for projecting American power and maintaining our access to the global commons can amplify each other’s capabilities for best effect, not looking for credit, not looking for bumper stickers,” Gen. Schwartz said.
“We’re looking for tactics, techniques, procedures and equipment that underwrites that to sustain our ability to challenge others who wish us not to assert ourselves in certain geographic areas around the world.”
Pro-China advocates in government already are working against implementing the battle concept, according to defense officials.
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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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