Pentagon Office to Coordinate New Air-Sea Strategy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2011 — A new Pen­ta­gon office will coor­di­nate efforts to counter an emerg­ing threat to the glob­al com­mons, offi­cials announced yes­ter­day.

The new Air-Sea Strat­e­gy Office will counter the anti-access/area denial threat. New tech­nolo­gies and capa­bil­i­ties make this threat far more potent than in the past, and advances will like­ly make it more of a dan­ger, said an offi­cial speak­ing on back­ground.

The office grew out of the 2009 Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review and seeks to build forces that can nav­i­gate in the glob­al com­mons and oper­ate in an area of denial envi­ron­ment.

The glob­al com­mons com­prise the geo­graph­ic and vir­tu­al realms of space, inter­na­tion­al waters and air­space, and cyber­space, accord­ing to the Defense Depart­ment. These are areas that are acces­si­ble to all but owned by none.

Nations, region­al and non-state actors have been devel­op­ing, pro­lif­er­at­ing and acquir­ing emerg­ing mod­ern mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties and tech­nolo­gies. These capa­bil­i­ties include pre­ci­sion fires, increas­ing­ly accu­rate long-range mis­siles, expand­ed elec­tron­ic war­fare capa­bil­i­ties and the whole notion of cyber­war.

Sub­marines, inte­grat­ed air and mis­sile defense sys­tems, expand­ed capa­bil­i­ties for sur­face war­ships, more capa­ble and stealthy air­craft all com­bine into the anti-access/area denial threat.

“All of these things com­bined togeth­er could be used to cre­ate chal­lenges to access and chal­lenges to … keep you out of an area or make it very dif­fi­cult for you to maneu­ver with­in an area,” the offi­cial said.

The Amer­i­can goal is to main­tain access and to con­tin­ue the abil­i­ty to oper­ate in these areas, the offi­cial said. “That envi­ron­ment demands that U.S. forces be able to turn quick­ly from a defen­sive pos­ture to one of offen­sive pos­ture — not to turn and leave an area, but to stay in place and to con­tin­ue to oper­ate with­in an area of the glob­al com­mons and not to be pushed out,” the offi­cial said.

The office will deal with all war fight­ing domains: The typ­i­cal one of land, sea and air, and the more non-tra­di­tion­al, but increas­ing­ly impor­tant domains of space and cyber.

“We can­not cede a sin­gle domain in order to pre­vail,” the offi­cials said.

The threat will require the ser­vices to work more loose­ly togeth­er, and joint train­ing and doc­trine will play in this. “So it’s not just that I’m train­ing Navy how to act in this envi­ron­ment,” an offi­cial said. “I’m train­ing Navy how to know what to get from this col­league and from this col­league so that we can col­lec­tive­ly … fight.”

This will mean being joint in the sense of col­lab­o­rat­ing togeth­er.

This is not going to be a tough moun­tain to climb for Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers. Sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines have been fight­ing coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paigns in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade now. They are used to work­ing togeth­er. They are used to using capa­bil­i­ties from a dif­fer­ent ser­vice.

The Navy, Air Force and Marines are cur­rent­ly the main play­ers in the office, but the Army is join­ing soon. The offi­cials see the office and the air-sea bat­tle con­cept act­ing as a focus­ing lens.

“Absent the air-sea bat­tle, our ser­vices would still be spend­ing on A2/AD capa­bil­i­ty,” one offi­cial said. “But with the focus­ing lens of air-sea bat­tle and under­stand­ing how to oper­ate in an envi­ron­ment such as that, we can make smarter deci­sions.”

Under­stand­ing the prob­lem will help elim­i­nate redun­dan­cy and allow the mil­i­tary to field shared, sus­tained advance­ments. “That’s what we’re seek­ing to that we can man, train and equip the right types of forces able to suc­ceed in the A2/AD envi­ron­ment, and ulti­mate­ly ensure free­dom of access in the glob­al com­mons,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)