Thursday, June 21, 2012

A2/AD Works Both Ways

There has been much hand-wringing and doom-saying lately about potential Chinese (and Iranian and North Korean, to a lesser extent) anti-access / area denial (AA/AD or A2/AD) capabilities.  Supposedly, our carriers have been rendered mere floating targets (odd, though, isn’t it, that China is desperately trying to build a carrier fleet? – hmmm… someone should think about the deeper meaning of that – but, I digress) and the Navy, in general has no hope of approaching Chinese shores.  It certainly seems as if A2/AD will be the decisive military concept of the future and one that the U.S. has little hope of beating. 

Wouldn’t it be something, though, if somehow the tables could be turned and China had to face A2/AD instead of us?  Then they’d have no hope and it would be their carriers that were floating targets.

[I assume you all recognize the sarcasm in the preceeding paragraphs!]

A2/AD Possibilities

Other than invading neighboring countries overland, and that’s certainly possible, China would have to move out from the mainland in order to gain territory (kind of the point of war, generally) such as Taiwan, Philippines, Spratleys, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, etc.  However, examination of a map shows that all of those areas lend themselves to an effective A2/AD defense.  There are many possible chokepoints and restricted operating areas far from the Chinese mainland that Chinese forces would have to pass through in order to occupy any of those lands.  Taiwan, of course, would be the most difficult to apply an A2/AD defense to but the rest would lend themselves quite nicely to it.  Relatively safe bases further away in Korea, Japan, Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia would provide anchor points for an A2/AD defense.  Of course, some diplomatic maneuvering would have to be applied to obtain effective basing in some of those areas but it would be worth the effort.

Certainly, the U.S. must give serious thought to dealing with a Chinese A2/AD system.  And while a war can’t be fought on a purely defensive basis, creating a credible A2/AD system throughout the South and East China Seas could be a good way to prevent a war by making the cost too high relative to the potential gains.

1 comment:

  1. You hit the nail on the head. The Chinese A2/AD bubble for investments into strange stuff might come to an end or else?
    The first level of US area denial is blue water. Nothing can compete with the US navy in blue water. None has compareable supercarriers or a reliable asymmetric work around. Most of earth's surface is under US control as these are blue waters.
    Now come the green waters, the step is for pushing more capabilities in this area where shipping lanes concentrate. You endanger, but not totally deny them via submarines. Green water surface presence is necessary for a thalassocracy and to be sure some strategic resources get checked on the way there.