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)