“Air-Sea Battle.” What comes to mind when you hear that dashing phrase? How about its ungainly replacement, “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons”? Some might envision a hypothetical conflict between the United States and a certain rising power in Asia. Squadrons of fighters dogfight high above the Western Pacific as bombers launch devastating attacks on ships and shore below. Task forces of forward-based cruisers and destroyers duel against their opposite numbers along the First Island Chain. Submarines sink any amphibious group that threatens the allied perimeter, enabling strikes on enemy bases that menace the battle fleets rushing into the theater from Hawaii and North America. Cutting-edge technology renders old principles of war obsolete, and the United States carries the day in a short, vigorous campaign that brings the adversary to heel.
Or does it?