From the mid-1930s through the Cold War, Europe was critical to U.S. strategic thinking, which developed around the assumption that foreign domination of Europe was inimical to U.S. national security. With the end of the Cold War, the United States sought to forge a Europe that was “whole and free.” However, since Putin has returned to office, he has launched a determined effort to reassert Moscow’s influence in areas formerly under Soviet control. Russia’s objective is to overturn the European security order that emerged after the end of the Cold War. As Russia continues to invest aggressively in modernizing its military, many NATO countries continue to pursue policies of disarmament, divest themselves of key capabilities, and struggle to meet NATO’s 2 percent of GDP defense spending requirement. Europe’s political disunity, lack of leadership, and absence of appetite for confrontation with Russia, as well as the weakest United States military presence in Europe since World War II, allow the Kremlin to exploit its growing military capabilities along its periphery. The dwindling presence of NATO forces is now running the risk of failing to deter Russian aggression.
How can the silent service stay in tune with the times? First and foremost, by acknowledging the danger posed by foreign navies toting gee-whiz gadgetry. Clark hints at how hard adapting to more transparent seas could prove: “unless U.S. forces adapt to and lead the new competition, the era of unrivaled U.S. undersea dominance could draw to a surprisingly abrupt close.” That’s a grim prognosis in itself. Abrupt change begets major traumas in big institutions like navies. It’s hard to get ahead of the process.
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said — using the seizure of Crimea as an example — sending forces in later “would look like we’re trying to change the facts on the ground.” This makes the response look like an act of aggression. “We’re going to have to prevent those things [from happening] in the first place,” he said
Predictable opposition scenarios, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or Russian incursions into the Baltics, could happen so quickly that the United States would be forced to attack and dislodge units as a first response, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“We’ve been talking in every other meeting I’m going to about how networks are being degraded… but we’re going to rely on this exquisite network to do air defense,” David Johnson, a retired colonel, thinktank scholar, and top advisor to former Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, told an Association of the US Army conference last week. “The question I ask is, what is the backup?”
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is looking to up the ante on electronic warfare by mating EW and computer networks in a whole new way to launch cyber-attacks, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) says in a recently released report. “The PLA believes that EW is one of the best ways to counter stronger military powers, CSBA notes in its report, “Reinforcing the Front Line U.S. Defense Strategy and The Rise of China. In addition to developing a variety of dedicated EW platforms, CSBA says, the PLA “has embraced the concept of Integrated Network Electronic Warfare (INEW), which seeks to meld EW and computer network into a ‘hybrid capability.’” CSBA says, “INEW promises to make network warfare relevant to areas traditionally dominated by electronic warfare by enabling network attacks to ‘bridge the air-gap’ and enter relatively unprotected, isolated battlefield networks.”