SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social SciencesReference:
United States military strategy concepts with regards to China
Abstract.The coming shifts in the regional military balance away from the United States and its allies towards China can lead to a deformation of the American containment policy. The goal of this article, which represents a logical continuation of a number of other works of the author on the problems of regional security in the Asia-Pacific Region, is the analysis of Washington’s main military strategic approaches with regards to the People’s Republic of China and forecast of the development of military political situation upon the mid-term prospects. A number of American experts claim that in an event of a military conflict the United States will have no choice but to dominate the military forces of China and neutralize its ability to restrict and prevent access to separate territories, blocking of certain zones and maneuvers within them (concept A2/AD), using a number of offensive and defensive means, including targeting objects on the territory of China with non-nuclear force. The author comes to the conclusion that American policy-making, headquarters, and expert-analytical structures are conducting a targeted work, aimed at maintaining their influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Keywords: tactical weapons, strategic potential, international security, regional security, Air-Sea Battle, military policy, China, Asia-Pacific region, USA, geopolitics
In the modern conditions of the transformation of global megatrends the policymaking circles of the United States continue to substantiate their geostrategic position through the ability of projecting their military strength across great distance. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the capabilities of the United States in expanding their geopolitical influence were undisputed. American administrations could open and manage their naval or Air Force operations on the basis of “national interests” almost anywhere, including the eastern outskirts of Eurasia. In the period after the end of the cold war the United States possessed a broad nuclear arsenal that could provide support to the ground forces. Washington had all the necessary resources to restrict or exert military pressure upon potentially dangerous (in their opinion) regimes.
In the area of military dominance in Asia, the American superiority was demonstrated in 1995-1996: in a response to the Chinese missile tests conducted for the purpose of influencing the results of election in Taiwan, the Clinton administration sent two aircraft carrier groups into the region. This incident marked the culmination point in the development of China’s military potential, as well as the US-China strategic relations. At the time it was evident that the People’s Liberation Army was unable to take adequate response measures. However, after the crisis Beijing began to increase spending for military development in order to halt, hold, and eventually block the attempts of the United States from spreading their military power throughout the territory of the western part of the Pacific Ocean. Since these actions were motivated first and foremost by the desire to find a solution to the serious military and technological tasks, from the very start they could lead to substantial strategic transformations.
By the end of 1990’s Beijing’s efforts began to bring results. The increase in China’s military strength, modernization of strategic nuclear forces, as well as development of the so-called battle nets of restricting and preventing (A2/AD, anti-access/area denied), according to American policymakers pose a serious and growing threat to the US positions in Eastern Asia. Due to the fact that they contend Washington’s ability to spread its influence in the region, coupled with the continuing growth of these forces, could put in question the safety guarantees that the United States provide to their partners, which in turn could significantly undermine the military-political alliances, and subsequently weaken the US positions as a dominant player in the Asia-Pacific region. Future shifts in the regional military balance from the United States and its allies towards China can also lead to the formation of American containment policy. The goal of this article, which is a logical continuation of author’s previous works on the issues of regional security in the Asia-Pacific Region [1, 2, 3], is the analysis of Washington’s main military-strategic approaches with regards to the People’s Republic of China, as well as the forecast for the development of the military-political situation on the midterm prospective.
AIR-SEA BATTLE (ASB): ESSENCE OF THE CONCEPT
Within the policymaking circles of the United States there are two most popular points of view on the future of American military strategy in Asia. On one side are the supporters of the so-called direct approach. The experts and officials of this camp claim that in an event of a military conflict the United States will have no choice but to dominate the military forces of China and neutralize its ability to restrict and prevent access to separate territories, blocking of certain zones and maneuvers within them (concept A2/AD), using a number of offensive and defensive means, including targeting objects on the territory of China with non-nuclear force. The proponents of this approach support the implementation of the positions of so-called “Air-Sea Battle” (ASB), the critical analysis of which will be undertaken in this work.
In response to the flaws and contradictions of the ASB, other analysts put forth an alternate approach before the US government to develop an indirect answer to the growth of the military power of China. All proposed options are united under an attempt to avoid a direct attack on China and count first and foremost upon the remote use of the naval forces of the United States and its allies to convince Beijing to accept America’s terms. Indirect strategies can be divided into two groups. If the first group strives to avoid a conflict with the Chinese defense forces, fully relying on the blockade at the far reaches, blocking access of ships (especially those transporting hydrocarbons) in the narrow channels distant from the Chinese territory, the others have more aggressive strategies of restricting passage for vessels altogether, call upon the United States and its allies to use the means of underwater warfare to set mines in ports, sink ships, and prevent China’s use of its waters.
Over the last five years the question of how to maintain Washington’s ability to project its military force has gained importance, and became one of the main strategic priorities at the Pentagon. In the list of “top ten tasks” for 2012 the American Department of Defense (DoD) has placed the ability to “project force” has been moved to a third place, right after “counterterrorism in the process of unconventional warfare”, and the ability to “suppress and overcome aggression through intimidation” [4, p. 4]. Officials attempted to explain the increase in the force and means of A2/AD as a general trend, in an attempt to avoid the need to publically point out a specific country as a most likely adversary. Nevertheless, it is evident that China’s growing capabilities give the most reason for Americans to worry, and stimulate a search for solution of the problem of limited access.
In 2009 Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense at the time, has set a task for the department to research ways of “maintaining America’s capability to project force into any region of the world to support its interests” . Six month later, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review revealed that: “The Air Force and Navy are jointly developing a new air-sea concept in order to defeat…adversaries possessing sophisticated anti-access systems” . Following this message, in November the so-called Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) was published. This document was developed by the efforts of various military branches and is intended to describe “in broad terms the vision for how joint forces will operate in response to emerging anti-access and area-denial security challenges” . The publishing of JOAC was accompanied by the creation of a central command, consisting of Air Force and Navy officers, tasked with further development and implementation of the positions of the concept that “unite the Air Force and Navy so that they could be effective in an environment with anti-access and area-denial” .
In a number of speeches and articles, Norton Schwartz and Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Staff and Chief of Naval Operations at the time, characterized the concepts of ASB as an answer to a broad spectrum of emerging threats, rather than a specific direct threat. In over two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, notes Schwartz, “our ability to project expeditionary power from the United States, our access to forwards bases, and our mobility throughout potential battle spaces has remained largely unchallenged”. Today however, “this advantage is being threatened” . At the deepest level, this challenge represents a manifestation of the continuing process of the “rapid expansion and proliferation of advanced technology and weapon systems”. The biggest reason for concern for Schwartz and Greenert is the “sustained effort by certain states to develop, stockpile, and proliferate advanced long-range precision weapons… these advanced weapons can be networked and integrated with sophisticated over-the-horizon surveillance systems” . The “boundaries of the anti-access zone” have been expanded by American authors in response to the use by the hypothetical adversaries of “growing fleets of diesel submarines, improved fighter and bomber aircraft, and surface combatants with advanced air defense and electronic warfare systems”. Put together, these forces can allow “some rising powers that appear to be seeking regional hegemony to employ access denial strategies to isolate other regional actors from American military intervention, enabling them to more effectively intimidate and coerce neighboring states” .
The challenge to Washington’s capability to project its military power into transoceanic theaters is nothing new. As the JOAC report clearly describes “the contest over operational access can dominate practically all other considerations in warfare, as it did throughout the Pacific theater and in the battle for the North Atlantic during the Second World War”. In the future conflict the American armed forces may yet again have to address the issue of “gaining and maintaining operational access in the face of armed opposition” [7, p. 5].
Thus, in light of the growing threats the United States must devise plans and acquire means and capabilities that would allow them to “maintain the ability to project power in areas in which [their] access and freedom to operate is challenged” [4, p. 4]. The JOAC contains the list of eleven “operational access precepts”, first of which states that American military forces must “attain cross-domain synergy” using “airpower to defeat antiship weapons, naval power to neutralize air defenses, ground forces to neutralize land-based threats to air and naval forces, cyber operations to defeat space systems” [7, pp. ii, 16]. Some of the proposed measures carry a defensive character, but most of them have a clearly offensive potential. Among them are the recommendations for American forces to “disrupt enemy reconnaissance and surveillance efforts while protecting friendly efforts”, “protect space and cyber assets while attacking enemy’s space and cyber capabilities”, and “attack enemy anti-access/area-denial defenses in depth rather than rolling back those defenses from the perimeter” [7, p. 17].
The 2013 version of the concept clarifies substantial details of a specific threat and description of the main methods of American response to it. The document begins with presumptions with regards to how the enemy will use their capabilities in the area of A2/AD. It is believed that “the enemy will begin military operation with little or no warning”. As a result, the “forward-deployed or other in-range combat forces at the beginning of a crisis can facilitate operational access”, and must be ready to “move quickly into position in response to an emerging crisis”. Since such strikes are extremely important in order to achieve success, a decisive adversary will not hesitate to attack American bases on the territories of its allies. Actually, even the continental parts of the United States can be attacked. The document makes an emphasis on the multiple domains for waging modern warfare, which are mentioned in JOAC, stating that all five domains (air, maritime, land, space, and cyberspace) “will be contested by the adversary”, and that US must maintain superiority in all of them [5, pp. 3-4].
According to the authors of the document, “… solution to the A2/AD problem lies in the creation of forces that would be united into a network capable to execute deep strikes on enemy territory in order to disrupt, destroy and eliminate the opposing forces” [5, p4]. The joint network and integration is important in order to conduct operations within multiple spheres mentioned in the JOAC [5, p. 5]. A “deep strike” requires the capabilities to “project power though prohibited zones” and use of “kinetic and nonkinetic antisatellite weapons that can disable space systems vital to U.S. force projection” [5, p. 6-7].
At the foundation of the ASB concept lie the three “lines of effort”. First, the US will attempt to “disrupt” the work of network systems of command, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; transfer of data (C4ISR), deny the enemy the ability to determine the locations of American targets, and ideally “prevent the enemy from countering effectively”. Second, they will attempt to “eliminate” the A2/AD platforms and enemy weapon systems. And finally, depending on the level of success of enemy’s efforts, the United States will attempt to “destroy” the enemy’s weapon after it has been launched [5, p. 8].
The Air Force and Navy chiefs of staff briefly formulated the goals of the ASB concept as intended to break the enemy’s “kill chain”. In order to carry out an attack “the enemy must execute a sequence of actions”: determine the positions of American forces, transfer the information, launch the weapons, and destroy the targets . Thus the American commanders believe that the most vulnerable elements are associated with the use of the C4ISR systems, without which the enemy attacks cannot be successful.
While creating these documents the American officials carefully avoid any discussion of how the ASB concept can be implemented in the event of military conflict with China. The most detailed review of this issue was in an analytical report prepared by a US Navy Officer Jan M. van Tol. Although the positions he expressed in some aspects do not coincide with the current thinking of Pentagon, the author proposes several “specific lines of operations” that practically exactly duplicate the theses provided in the official documents on the ASB concept. They include, first and foremost, the need to “withstand the initial attack and limit the damage to US and allied forces and bases; execute a blinding campaign against PLA battle networks; execute a suppression campaign against PLA long-range ISR and strike systems” . According to van Tol, the second of these tasks is the most vital in order to achieve the subsequent victory, since “blinding PLA systems is essential for Air-Sea Battle’s success in every other line of operation. [13, p. 57]. Carrying out this task requires execution of immediate attacks using kinetic types of weapons on the entire range of high-value targets, such as Chinese satellites, land-based communications, anti-satellite weapons, and over-the-horizon radars. According to van Tol, disabling radars would be “among the earliest US strike priorities” [13, p. 58].
Strikes on the PLA land-based rockets must be conducted immediately after the suppression operations, but last for a longer period of time. After creation of the “multi-access corridors, the US ISR, AEA, and strike platforms would attack Chinese land-based missile launchers and their C2 networks”. While “PLA’s inventory of missiles and mobile launchers is too numerous and generally too difficult to find to realize a high level of destruction”, the operations to suppress launcher systems could decrease the number of strikes against the US and lower the degree of their coordination. Among other advantages, this would ease the task of US and allied forces engaged in missile defense, presenting them with a “drizzle” of PLA missiles rather than a “downpour”. Van Tol concludes that the success in destruction of the platforms and weapons systems represents is “critical in preventing China from achieving a quick “knock-out” blow” against the United States [13, p. 64-66].
ESTIMATED RESULTS OF THE AIR-SEA BATTLE
In this context it is worth noting two important moments. First, the enthusiasm with regards to the ASB concept demonstrated by the heads of Air Force and Navy partially reflects the fact that its implementation translates into very favorable results for financing and development of aviation and fleet. Second, the ASB is not a strategy in the full sense of the word. It should be viewed as a limited operational concept, concentrated on development of integrated efforts by Air Force and Navy in the context of A2/AD threats. Its goal consists in the identification of “the actions needed to defeat those threats and the materiel and non-materiel investments required to execute those actions.” [7, pp. 3-4]. In other words, ASB is a scheme or a general approach intended to help the United States DoD solve a specific operational issue.
Analyzing the ASB concept, it is necessary to formulate the problematic question in the following way: what would be the result of the hypothetical US-China conflict, in which PLA uses its own doctrinal approaches, and US will attempt to realize some version of the ASB? This question can be divided into three parts: first, what will be the result of the strictly militarily speaking series of exchanges of strikes? Second, what is the likelihood that these initial mutual strikes would lead to a quick diplomatic resolution of any conflict? And third, what is the likelihood that they could lead to a nuclear escalation of the conflict?
The ASB document provides a clear understanding that the American strategists declare that if there ever be a US-China armed conflict, it will be started by China landing the first blow. Therefore, everything will depend on how effectively the United Stated and its allied can “withstand the blow”. It is namely due to this point that the increase in Chinese A2/AD capabilities gives reasons for serious concern for Americans. In the US military headquarters there are alarming predictions that without substantial corrective measures, the US capabilities to protect its forward bases, as stated in ASB, and their ability to destroy incoming Chinese missiles continues to dilute. Over the next 5-10 years PLA will be capable of inflicting significant damage to every stationary object of US forces in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, including areas such as Guam (providing that China will strike first). From the American point of view, the prospects of protecting these stationary objects using only active measure are not very promising. Even excluding the significant increase in the number and effectiveness of the current kinetic ISR systems, the PLA Second Artillery will likely be able to overcome the allied defense systems, using a massive attack with the implementation of false targets. Using the combination of means such as ballistic and cruise missiles to execute the attack, PLA will be able to destroy some American ships (including aircraft carriers) within 1,500 nautical miles off the coast of China.
In addition to intercepting the Chinese munitions before it can reach its targets, the US and its allies propose lowering the effectiveness of the strikes using passive defensive measures. After receiving a strategic warning, the effectiveness of the first strike can be diminished, as long as the planes can be dispersed into auxiliary fields, all usable ships deployed, the locations of planes and navy attack fleet masked, and possibly, the key forces be taken out of the range of Chinese ballistic missiles.
But even a successful first strike will not prevent a retaliatory response from the United States, which will response with a rapid campaign aimed at destruction of the Chinese C4ISR networks. This campaign can begin immediately after the attack is identified and even before it is complete, partially by use of means of virtually instant effect, including demolishing and disabling the orbital satellites, and execution of cyber and electronic (EW) attacks against the sensors of detection and surveillance systems, as well as the enemy computer networks. The physical strikes on high-value targets can be conducted using weapons systems launched from the platforms that are less susceptible to preemptive strikes, such as multi-target submarines, or the systems that are not based in the theater of the military activity, for example stealth bombers.
The success or failure of this campaign will affect the further ability of American forces to counteract the subsequent attacks, or diminish their effects by destroying Chinese weapons and platforms. The more thorough the liquidation of Chinese command networks, especially those associated with its system of air defense, the more freedom of action the US military forces will have. At the same time, the US military chiefs recognize that taking into account the number of targets involved, and the ability to disperse and mask them, will make this a highly complex task, and in some parts impossible to execute using only the forces currently deployed.
According to American specialists, minimizing China’s capabilities to carry out subsequent attacks using naval platforms will be a fairly easy task. American submarines can destroy enemy ships and begin hunting enemy submarines, as well as striking known land targets using cruise missiles. The success of the suppressive attacks on land targets will allow American aircraft carriers and other ships to act in a safer environment closer to the Chinese shores, helping clear the rest of the water of the remaining PLA navy ships and deliver additional blows to the land-based targets.
The more difficult task for American strategists is the elimination of the China’s capabilities to continue to launch cruise and ballistic missiles from their ground positions. Factors such as mobility of PLA’s strategic systems, sheer size of their territory, vast experience of the PLA armed forces in camouflaging, disguised bases and engineering equipment of the objects further complicate this issue. Americans believe that PLA will disperse their weapons systems before, or immediately after the first strikes, and American forces will first have to locate them before they can be destroyed.
As noted by van Tol, the American “legacy bombers with precision-guided standoff munitions would strike known fixed missile emplacements, while long-endurance manned and unmanned stealthy penetrators, supported by on-board and off-board target cueing (perhaps including SOF), would locate and attack mobile missile launchers. Penetrating (i.e., stealthy) platforms would deploy towed and expendable air-launched decoys to suppress air defenses, creating multiple false targets to confuse PLA airborne and surface-based air defense systems, and inducing the PLA to expend surface-to-air missiles and vector interceptor aircraft without effect” [13, p. 65]. Due to the fact that weakening the capabilities of the C4ISR systems will prevent PLA from quickly assess the damage and determine the location of allied mobile targets (especially ships), the PLA will have to fire “blind”, executing strikes on previously set positions of stationary objects, such as naval and air bases.
LIKELIHOOD OF NUCLEAR ESCALATION OF THE CONFLICT
Regardless of which side is more successful in achieving its initial goals, neither the US nor China will likely get the opportunity to dictate their conditions to the other side. The ASB concept does not contain in itself the “victory theory”; but neither does the Chinese concept of “Active strategic counterstrikes on the outside lines”. Analyzing the ASB concept it is difficult to assess its effectiveness as an operational concept. One thing that is certain is that it has very high probability of escalation. The non-nuclear strikes on the mainland of China that is proposed in this concept can provoke a nuclear retaliation.
Being the result of a decision or a failure in the control systems, the nuclear escalation of the conflict will become the consequence of the successful American strikes on the key Chinese targets. In addition to limiting China’s capabilities to deliver coordinated subsequent attacks on A2/AD, the suppression campaign could also destroy the communication systems, taking away Beijing’s ability to receive information from long-range radar stations and surveillance satellites. Under these circumstances China may believe that they are faced with a choice between using their own nuclear force or loss thereof. An even more frightening thought for Americans is the possibility of the fact that amidst the chaos that will follow the American counterattack using non-nuclear munitions, the nuclear arsenal of the PRC can be used without intent, or without the order of proper channels . These risks greatly influence the thinking of US authorities, who must decide on whether or not to strike any Chinese mainland targets.
It is worth mentioning that the Chinese leaders also cannot be certain that the use of non-nuclear arsenal will not result in a nuclear response from the United States. Washington never excluded the possibility of being the first to use nuclear weapons; on the contrary, its strategy of expanded containment had always kept open the possibility of executing nuclear strikes as a response to both, nuclear and non-nuclear attacks on its allies. The certainty of such threats was somewhat relaxed by the statements that the US intends to cut back its dependency on nuclear arsenal and possibly even eliminate it altogether . As it stands currently, the Chinese lawmakers have all the reason to fear that a successful attack using non-nuclear means can result in a nuclear response, which will nullify any advantages gained from the preemptive strike.
Supporters of the ASB view its effectiveness as a containment/intimidation factor as an unavoidable byproduct of efficient warfare. From this point of view, they believe that if the US and its allied can win the campaign against the A2/AD systems, China’s escalation efforts could be contained. Due to this fact, a serious assessment of the concept’s investment into containment requires a deep understanding of the fact that PLA headquarters are changing the power balance and forecast the possible results of a future war with the United States.
As an addition to the problem of escalation of the conflict from non-nuclear to nuclear war, there is the question of ASB effect on the stability of the crisis. Tense confrontation between the adversaries possessing powerful but potentially fragile ordinary complexes, capable to deliver high-precision strikes, can resemble a situation that has concerned politicians during the Cold War, where each side feared the first crippling strike from the other .
To a certain extent the United States plan to alleviate this threat, reducing the vulnerability of their weapons systems, information networks, and C4ISR platforms, thus minimizing any advantage that Beijing would hope to gain by striking first. According to American specialists, taking into account the increasing radius of effect and the precision of Chinese strategic forces, these defensive steps must be undertaken regardless of which strategy the United States will implement. The issue for the American military leadership consists of fact of whether the United States refrain from improving their offensive capabilities without posing too high of a threat to similar systems in China. There is a chance that such unilateral restraint under certain circumstances could lower the risk of war. However, if the “containment/intimidation” strategy fails, the United States will have fewer options to conduct counterstrikes that could limit the damage to their own and allied forces.
PROSPECTS OF THE US-CHINA CONFRONTATION
Summarizing the results of this research, it is necessary to note a number of key points. Firstly, the effect of the ASB concept upon the ongoing US-China strategic competition will partially depend on how this concept will be realized. According to American specialists, due to the fairly low cost of acquiring an even greater amount of ballistic missiles by China, the predominantly kinetic safety measures for stationary objects and ships will not ensure victory for the US and its allies. On the other hand, use of modern engineering equipment to protection, dispersing, and masking could make it more difficult for the attacking side with comparatively low spending, and at the same time increase the efficiency of active defense, especially against a “suppressed” adversary [17, p. 37].
Secondly, the much higher degree of effect upon the development of the situation is expected by the Americans from the highly efficient directed-energy (DE) weapons. Such systems “can provide the American forces with virtually limitless supply of ammunition to destroy approaching rockets at a very low cost per fire”, thus changing the “cost of the future missile race in favor of the United States” . Emergence of the directed-energy weapons can neutralize the foundation of China’s A2/AD strategy, and make obsolete the system that cost billions of dollars of the decades of its development and production.
There are also proposals of various methods of creating the offensive elements of the ASB. Americans acknowledge that manned fighter bombers (such as F-35) are not the most effective means of delivering strikes on the targets that are located on the mainland China, due to their limited radius of effect, low payload capacity, possible vulnerability to the advanced integrated air defense systems (IADS), and potential vulnerability of the aircraft carriers and regional bases from which they could be deployed. These platforms are also very expensive and will absorb a large portion of the allocated resources. Equipping the multi-purpose submarines with even more non-nuclear cruise missiles can prove a more reliable means of delivering precise strikes in response to a Chinese attack; but the current cruise missiles do not have a sufficient range to destroy targets located deep into the mainland China .
There is a number of prospective types of weapons that could be used to deliver conventional strikes on targets located virtually anywhere within China, from areas outside the range of China’s A2/AD systems. Such weapons include: aircraft-launched unmanned combat air systems (UCAS); mid-range ballistic missiles with non-nuclear payloads launched from submarines; new precision-guided penetrating bombers; land-based ballistic rockets with non-nuclear payloads, etc. .
Thirdly, in the context of the developing regional arms race, the United States see the development and modernization of systems equipped with air-breathing engines as a substantial advantage, at the same time developing new types of payload delivery systems via ballistic missiles. From the beginning of 1990’s the PLA command was racing to counter the potential of American high-precision bombs and cruise missiles, developing offensive technologies and installing A2/AD systems in order to push back the US forces to a distance from which they could not effectively use their high-precision weapons. In parallel to that, China has spent significant resources to implement defensive measures: construction of the AIDS, attempts to find ways of counteracting American systems that use the “stealth” and other expensive technologies (such as development and deployment of mobile ICBM platforms, and construction of vast network of underground complexes).
The US developing and already deployed conventional non-nuclear ballistic missiles and hypersonic means of delivery represent a totally new type of threat. Such weapons, capable of reaching Chinese territory from positions located outside the defense perimeter, could overcome China’s growing A2/AD network. Since such weapons systems could for the most part bypass the PLA’s existing defense system, it would seem that they will create new technologically-complex and costly strategic challenges for the PRC.
Finally, in addition to impact of the research and development programs and the procedure of decision-making in crisis situations of their potential adversaries, the ASB concept carries a political burden, and is meant to influence the behavior of US allies. The 2013 Service Collaboration to Address Anti-Access & Area Denial Challenges document states that the “continued U.S. investments in the capabilities identified in the concept reassure our allies and partners, and demonstrate the U.S. will not retreat from, or submit to, potential aggressors who would otherwise try and deny the international community the right to international waters and airspace” [5, p. i].
It can be assumes that the actual reaction of US allies to passing of ASB will be fairly diversified. The uncertainty with regards to what exactly is the ASB concept and what it means to the US own power and strategies, has already caused confusion and anxiety among some of the US allies. If ASB will be implemented in such manner that it would lower the need to have forward bases and forward deployed forces, it can cause concern and make it seem like Washington is retreating on its obligations in Asia. Such position could seem ideal from the perspective of conducting military operations, but withdrawal of forces from the region will undermine Washington’s efforts in supporting their alliances. The cause for worry amongst American experts is the fact that if this will serve as a sign that United States are moving away from its allies, then such actions will lead to a weakening of the suppression regime and elevate the risk of war.
It is evident that currently none of the US allies are eager to support the policy that can provoke tensions in relations with China. The advancement segment of ASB, or in other words the fact that the concept included the possibility of attacking targets located on China’s mainland, a number of which will likely be carried out from allied territories, represents especially worrying factor in this regard. Warning of a risk of nuclear escalation only strengthens this uneasiness. The fear of confrontation in the allied capitals, battles the nervousness that is caused by the increase in the capabilities and ambitions of China. Due to the specificity of its geographic location and economic capabilities, Japan is the key potential player in the ASB; due to its relations with China, it’s also one of the most likely recipient of support commitment from the United States. Out of the rest of the main American allies in the East Asia, South Korea more than anyone feels that the direct implementation of the new concept does not serve its interests, while Australia holds a neutral position [21, 22, 23].
Thus, Washington is not discrete about its plans to ramp up its military presence in the region. Pentagon believes that the combined military power of US and its allies should guarantee them a military-strategic superiority and protect the trade and economic interests in this part of the globe. The most recent documents from the US DoD confirm that American “hawks” view the Asia-Pacific Region as a key strategic platform, including for the purposes of deploying the naval component of the national missile defense system. The military construction projects reveal that the largest allocation of funds goes to building the “Full Spectrum Dominance” by 2035, which can provide the capabilities needed to execute preemptive disarming strike from the Asia-Pacific Region on targets that include the strategic forces of the Russian Federation.
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