Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict

By T.X. Hammes Strategic Forum 278

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Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict
Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict
Strategic Forum 278
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 180313-D-BD104-006

Key Points

  • China’s antiaccess/area-denial capabilities resulted in the Pentagon writing an Air-Sea Battle concept as part of its Joint Operational Access Concept. Missing is a discussion of an appropriate strategy if the entirely undesirable Sino-American conflict occurs. 
  • Effective strategies include a coherent ends-ways-means formulation. Current budget issues place definite limits on U.S. means. China’s nuclear arsenal restricts the choice of ways. Thus, to be achievable, the ends must be modest. 
  • This paper proposes Offshore Control as a military strategy. It recognizes that any conflict with China will be measured in years, not weeks or months. Offshore Control aligns U.S. strategic requirements with the resources available; takes advantage of Pacific geography to provide strategic, operational, and tactical advantages for U.S. forces; and provides a way for the conflict to end that is consistent with previous Communist Chinese behavior. 
  • By reducing reliance on space and cyber domains, Offshore Control is designed to slow a crisis down and reduce escalatory pressure in a crisis and potential ensuing conflict.

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