The traditional post-Cold War American way of war, focused on long-range strike and the rapid establishment of air and sea superiority, is changing. The United States is confronting new challenges by developing operational concepts that create a more favorable strategic environment and allow the United States to prevail in conflict with the military it already fields. In 2010, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments produced a report proposing an Air-Sea Battle (ASB) concept that outlined China’s ability to create no-go zones and the imperative for the U.S. military to withstand an initial attack and then execute a high-intensity campaign. The Pentagon sought to distance itself from the assertive concept, which was particularly controversial in its emphasis on strikes against the Chinese mainland, and rolled out a replacement joint concept. More geopolitically neutral and with a greater substantive role for the Army, the Joint Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC) concept is still at its core very similar to ASB. As it considers the role of new operational concepts in the Western Pacific, the Pentagon should acknowledge that access is contested, but not concede that access has been denied. Continued access and maneuver may remain possible even in hostile environments. Alongside the third offset, the United States should utilize cost imposition strategies and encourage China to spend on operationally weaker areas, particularly ones where it will cost more for China to address its shortcomings than it would cost for the United States to exploit them. Tactically, the United States should emphasize resilience, thereby reducing the attractiveness of early strikes. Finally, instead of creating one operational concept, the Pentagon should produce multiple operational concepts, including concepts for lower-intensity conflicts that originate in maritime and territorial disputes.
"In a more-robust budgetary environment, when some of the budget pressure is off, if you feel like there's more money going around you don't have to twist people's arms as much to have their programs come in at the budget numbers," says Katherine Blakeley, a former defense policy analyst with the Congressional Research Service now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said: “That’s $3 million to shoot down a three-or-four-hundred-dollar drone. . . . What if you could do that with a beam of light that costs a buck?”
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at CSBA, said during the hearing that the Navy ought to move to a larger and more survivable frigate design, ideally building the LCS and LCS-based frigate for a few more years until a new design is ready for production. Clark said CSBA’s studies highlighted the need “to do air defense for another ship so it can do an escort mission, which we saw in our analysis as being increasingly important for a situation in which our logistics force and civilian convoys and noncombatant ships are going to be at risk of being attacked by an enemy that’s willing to go all out and attack civilians as well as attacking just strictly military ships. So we saw that need to have the ability to do air defense of another ship as being essential. The other thing it has to be able to do is anti-submarine warfare, and in particular using new anti-submarine warfare concepts that leverage things such as the variable depth sonar, which the LCS mission package has, and the multi-function towed array, which the LCS mission package has as well. What those capabilities do is allow us to transition from having a strictly man-on-man or single-ship-on-submarine kind of ASW to now a multi-static ASW where multiple ships can look for multiple submarines, and then you need standoff weapons to be able to engage those submarines rapidly.”
Bryan Clark, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said at the hearing held by House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower and projection forces, that there would have to be some investments in shipyards to enable them to further increase production, particularly in Connecticut. “They’re largely going to be maxed out in terms of their near-term industrial capacity with the Columbia class [submarines] and if we try to do two attack submarines,” he said at the March 8 hearing. “But they have workforce limitations that are going to keep them from growing further. There are some facilities constraints that just over time that have grown and need to be addressed. So putting some money into facilities and a training infrastructures of the shipyards are going to be able to bring on the workforce they need to grow in order to start doing the construction at the rate that we would need to get to a 350-ship or so Navy,” he added.
The Navy kicked off a tabletop wargaming exercise last week at the Center for Naval Analyses that will identify key enablers the force will need to fight in various scenarios, according to an official. Rear Adm. Jesse Wilson, assessment division director in the office of the chief of naval operations (N81), said March 8 during a House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing the exercise began March 7 and includes representatives from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary..