Obama administration and Department of Defense officials are publicizing the so-called “strategy” of the Air-Sea Battle (ASB) and the “pivot” of U.S. military forces to the Pacific area.1 But neither the ASB nor the pivot is a “strategy.” Rather, they are operational concepts that should support the U.S. national-security strategy.
One strategic goal is to deter and defeat aggression. Another is to support U.S. allies around the world. And maintaining open sea lanes for commerce is a subset goal. There are others, spelled out in lofty terms in rarely read documents.2
But how are these goals met by the ASB and pivot? The ASB is intended to overcome the anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) efforts of potential enemies. Today and for the immediate future, the only potential enemies with A2/AD capabilities are Russia and China. While Iran and North Korea certainly rank as “enemies,” their A2/AD capabilities are minimal against potential U.S.-Western military forces.