|AirSea Battle Report from the CSBA|
Again, for those less familiar with it, the ASB’s strategy envisions a two stage process whereby the Chinese capabilities are sequentially countered and then methodically rolled back during a period of prolonged combat. The rollback will allow the Navy to operate closer and closer to
(the location of most of the China military objectives, of course) over time. The rollback phase is deemed necessary since the U.S. military, and Navy in particular, have only limited range weapons and must achieve a certain level of “closeness” in order to employ their weapons. This is, essentially a war of attrition. U.S.
Thus, the ASB’s first failing becomes apparent. In a war of attrition, the side with the most, wins. Setting aside the adverse public reaction to a war of attrition and the resulting lack of support, the
military does not have sufficient numbers of planes, ships, weapons, or people to successfully engage in a war of attrition. While the U.S. may maintain a technological superiority enabling it to achieve a favorable kill ratio, the end result will be depletion of U.S. forces to a point where “victory” becomes impossible. U.S.
military has recognized since WWII that mutual attrition is not a desirable strategy. Every battle doctrine and strategy since then has emphasized selective concentration of forces, maneuver, stand-off engagement, and so forth for the express purpose of achieving victory without mutual attrition. To return to a strategy of attrition, especially against a numerically superior enemy is both simplistic and impractical. U.S.
Besides, what’s the point? Is the purpose of a rollback strategy of attrition to kill every person in
? Of course not. But what, then, is the point of the rollback strategy? This question reveals the second and most serious failing of the ASB. It does not define what victory is. What end result or set of conditions constitutes victory? A certain number of people killed? A certain level of degradation of Chinese military capability? A level of destruction of industrial capability sufficient to ensure that the Chinese military can’t be rebuilt within a given time frame? A simple return to pre-war boundaries? What? China
ASB itself seems to recognize its own failing to certain degree with the statement, “As a doctrine for the operational level of war, AirSea Battle should not be seen as a “war-winning” concept in itself.” Fair enough but if the authors don’t see their own strategy as “war-winning” then what is its purpose?
Without a definition of victory the suggested strategy has no frame of reference against which to measure its value. This is analogous to describing how to throw a baseball. Interesting in and of itself but without knowing the context the value is limited. Is the throwing for the purpose of playing catch in the backyard? Playing professional baseball? The answer will determine the intensity of the effort, the amount of time that should be spent learning the skill, and the ultimate degree of skill required.
So, too, with a strategy of rollback. To what purpose is it being applied? To what degree and level of completion must it be taken? If we know the victory conditions we can begin to make assessments of the amount and type of weapons that will be needed. Without the victory conditions we can only describe vague generalities about warfare – and that is exactly what the ASB winds up doing.
For those interested, here's the link to the actual AirSea Battle document.