The recent issue of Proceedings has an article (1) suggesting the need for a name change for AirSea Battle (ASB). The author feels that the name, specifically the word “
”, is too provocative. Battle
The article cites the origination of AirSea Battle from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA) as the root of the problem – the problem, the author feels, being that AirSea Battle described a conflict with China, specifically the A2/AD aspects of that conflict, and that naming the enemy serves only to antagonize the enemy, China. The author goes on to note that the Pentagon has developed their own version of ASB (Pentagon-ASB or PASB) subsequent to the CSBA’s version and that
is not even named in the document. While the actual document is classified, the public version of PASB combined with the comments from CNO Greenert and other members of Navy leadership suggest a document that is focused on inter-service communications and some type of nebulous cross-service capabilities swap. The article, for example, cites an example of a helo dropping a sonobuoy to alert a submarine to launch a Tomahawk missile. Why a helo would be positioned atop a submarine but a Tomahawk armed Burke/Tico would not is not explained. Other previously cited examples include such gems as having an Army ground unit control a Standard missile launched from a ship (why would the Army have a better radar picture than the ship?) and a B-2 bomber launching air-to-air missiles (really?! – we’re going to risk a billion dollar bomber, of which we only have 20, playing air-to-air tag?!). To be fair, a friend of ComNavOps has actually suggested several worthwhile examples of inter-service communications and compatibilities though none have been suggested by DoD or the Navy. China
The point of this post is not to debate ASB but to note that the PASB version appears to be a watered down description of capabilities, mostly defensive in nature, and largely of quite dubious value, whose main focus seems to be avoidance of confrontation with
. Actually, ComNavOps believes the PASB to be mainly an exercise in budget justification, but I digress. China
The focus on not upsetting the enemy is what is known as appeasement. The history, and failure, of appeasement policies is well documented so I won’t belabor the point any further. The takeaway from this post is the observation that appeasement has become so ingrained in our armed forces that a Navy Commander saw fit to write a six page article – an article, you’ll note, that had to have been reviewed and approved by upper level Navy leadership - suggesting a name change for ASB so as not to upset China. Wow!?!!
For those who may not see the obvious analogy, consider the Cold War with the
Soviet Union and the resultant AirLand Battle (ALB). ALB did not attempt to water down our military stance to avoid upsetting the Soviets. Instead, ALB publicly made it plain to the Soviet Union that we had a plan for dealing with them and that they would pay a heavy price if they opted to initiate hostilities.
This is dealing with Bullies 101. You don’t appease a bully, you punch him in the nose. Instead, we’re tiptoeing around He Who Must Not Be Named. Sorry, my bad. That was Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. I meant to say The Country That Must Not Be Named.
C’mon, Navy, have the courage to at least speak the enemy’s name out loud. Once you achieve that prodigious feat of intestinal fortitude, then tell The Country That Must Not Be Named what you’ll do to him if he steps out of line. Of course, if the consequence of misbehaving is facing the mighty LCS then maybe I do understand why we’re opting for appeasement. We should also make clear the benefits of not stepping out of line but that’s for the diplomats, not the Navy.
By the way, here are the name changes the author suggests in the article:
What’s next, some weak, inoffensive slogan like “A Global Force for Good”? Oh wait …
(1) U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, “The First Rule of Air-Sea Battle”, Cmdr. David Forman, USN, p.26, April 2014