On 14 November 2010, an undersized Manny Pacquiao easily defeated Antonio Margarito in a WBC boxing title fight in Dallas, Texas, despite being outmatched in height, weight, and reach. What Pacquiao lacked in size, he more than made up in speed, delivering a “dizzying array of punches” that nearly blinded his opponent.1 Working inside Margarito’s longer arms, Pacquiao pummeled him while deflecting and evading most counterblows. It was never even close.
Sports analogies, of course, risk oversimplifying military issues. But there is a lesson here for those planners currently wrestling with the Pentagon’s latest threat du jour: anti-access/area denial (A2/AD). The lesson is this: An opponent with formidable weapons capacities and long range will not necessarily carry the day. Skill, training, and above all, speed, can more than offset seemingly insurmountable military strengths. The things that are easy to quantify—like size and reach—often tell only part of the story. Just ask Margarito.