WASHINGTON: The seas are shrinking. As missiles grow longer-ranged and more precise, as sensors grow ever sharper, there are ever fewer places for a ship to hide. “A ship’s a fool to fight a fort,” goes an old naval adage, because a land base can carry more ammunition and armor than anything that floats. Admirals have always been uneasy about bringing their fleets in range of shore-based weapons. But what does the US Navy do when those weapons can find you hundreds or thousands of miles out to sea?
That’s the question posed byAndrew Krepinevich in his forthcoming study, Maritime Competition In A Mature Precision-Strike Regime. (Krepinevich gave Breaking Defense an exclusive advance copy and answered our questions about it at length). The thinktank Krepinevich heads, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has long led the way on the concepts called anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) and Air-Sea Battle, which wrestle with the rising power of China and other countries to keep US forces at a distance. His new study carries this earlier work to its logical conclusion: a world in which both sides have built the wide-area network of spy satellites, drones,bombers, and missiles that is currently a US monopoly – the “mature precision-strike regime” of the title.