Small Wars Journal

The Next Warm War: How History’s Anti-Access/Area Denial Campaigns Inform the Future of War

The Next Warm War: How History’s Anti-Access/Area Denial Campaigns Inform the Future of War

Nick Impson

In December 2013 the USS Cowpens, a US Navy guided missile destroyer, was sailing through the South China Sea when the bridge’s radio erupted: “You are violating China security space! You must leave the area!”[i] In the area was China’s sole (at the time) aircraft carrier the Liaoning, and despite the Cowpens position as sailing firmly within international waters, a confrontation was brewing. Over the next few hours a dangerous game of high-seas chicken was played between the US Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), almost resulting in a collision between the Cowpens and a PLAN Type 074 landing ship.[ii] After some curt remarks between the captains of the Liaoning and Cowpens the destroyer sailed away with the landing ship on it stern, symbolically “chasing the US Navy out of the South China Sea.”[iii] China would like to replicate the result of this entanglement on a larger scale, and has developed a plan to do so.

The anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) campaign underway in the South China Sea is but one example of A2/AD being employed as a military strategy throughout history. A2/AD is defined as a strategy designed to bar an adversary’s entry to or occupation of a theater of operations[iv] and is most effectively utilized by a military when confronting a stronger adversary. A2/AD has become one of the most talked about issues in military policy circles today, but is by no means a new concept: the Yom Kippur War, the Cold War, and even the Civil War saw one (or both) sides incorporating the ideas of A2/AD. Whether it was in 1864 at Battle of Mobile Bay or in cyberspace during Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, operations relying on the success of an A2/AD strategy have endured, and will continue in the future. When analyzing these campaigns however, one notices how A2/AD can be employed in efforts that are starkly different in their makeup. The first of these variables is the type of enemy force being combatted by A2/AD, as it has been used in efforts against targets at sea, on land, and in the air. The scope of the conflict is also important to analyze, specifically the differences between A2/AD being used in a single battle or as a part of a protracted war – does A2/AD lend itself to one type of effort versus another? Similarly, the forces used in an A2/AD campaign could have potential ramifications for its success or failure. Would small-scale use of A2/AD on the tactical level yield better results that a joint campaign which integrates every branch of a state’s military force? Each of these variables leads to an assumption that states can be flexible with how they employ A2/AD based on different strategic circumstances, but a key question remains: which of these variables must be present for a given A2/AD campaign to be successful?

Literature Review

Anti-access area denial (A2/AD) is a military tactic with a central idea that “the best way of prevailing over a distant adversary, especially if it is superior in overall military power, is to prevent it from deploying its forces into the theater of conflict in the first place.”[v] It has been employed by militaries for centuries, with its traits imprinted on conflicts ranging from Ancient Greece to the present-day “warm war” in the South China Sea. The shorthand A2/AD however is a relatively-new catchphrase[vi] in the military community, and is one that has been chastised by military leaders as oversimplifying the more nuanced problems faced by the United States against states such as China.[vii] This criticism has not however been adopted by scholars of international relations, as prominent journals abound with articles concentrating on state-level A2/AD challenges. This discussion of present-day campaigns by China and Russia is one of three main categories we find on A2/AD literature, along with analyses of past conflicts and projections of A2/AD’s use in future wars. Reviewing this material will yield an understanding of where A2/AD research stands today, and what gaps in the literature exist that should be pursued further.

The aforementioned recent advent of anti-access/area denial as a term in policymaking circles does not mean the topic is in its infancy. Though the idea itself went unnamed at the time, conflicts dating back to the fifth century BCE clash between Athens and Syracuse have been included in the discussion of anti-access/area denial strategies.[viii] It should be noted that the works used here only represent a sample of A2/AD’s use in the history of conflict. The campaigns selected are: 1) mostly limited to the Cold War period and beyond, as it would be problematic to build a theory incorporating the successful tactics used by the Ancient Greeks in a world with long-range nuclear weapons; and 2) identified by modern-day historians as conflicts which display clear evidence of A2/AD presence. It should be noted that a more robust literary investigation could be completed by individually analyzing each conflict from the Cold War to present day to identify more A2/AD use. However, even with this caveat, recent military history provides us with useful examples for the analysis of both sea and land-based A2/AD campaigns that can help us begin to identify the strengths and vulnerabilities of A2/AD as a strategy, and to understand when and how states use its tactics effectively.

Literature on Prior A2/AD Campaigns

The first example falls outside the Cold War but is nonetheless applicable for modern naval combat – the mining of Dardanelles during World War I. States employing A2/AD well start by recognizing they have the inferior military in a given conflict. Realizing they were “outgunned and outmatched” in terms of conventional naval power, the Ottomans turned to mines as a simple but effective solution to deny Allied naval ships from passing through the Straight.[ix] Another example is the Soviet naval strategy from the 1970s to the end of the Cold War, where its Northern and Pacific fleets were committed to sea denial operations stretching out to 2,000 km from Soviet territory.[x] Availability of naval aircraft was also critical for the success this strategy, as their comparatively-rapid response time could be the difference in a conflict.[xi]  This ambitious plan necessitated a buildup of Soviet naval power and in turn defined the US Navy’s strategy of using carrier strike groups – mobile “strike bases” that could reposition based on enemy movement.[xii] As modern scholarship will reveal, parallels between this campaign and the current A2/AD campaign utilized by China makes the Soviet strategy an important case study. The Cold War period also provides an example of a land-based A2/AD campaign: the 1973 Yom Kippur War. While the strategy employed by Egypt and Syria did not prevent an Israeli victory, it made a “significant tactical impact” on the war by inflicting heavy losses on Israeli aircraft.[xiii] When Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots encountered the “missile wall”[xiv] deployed by Egypt and Syria in the early stages of the war, IAF commanders were forced to adjust due to losses inflicted by the surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries.[xv] While Israel’s more advanced military eventually carried the day, the war demonstrated how A2/AD tactics can be used by an inferior force to cause attrition on the battlefield.

Literature on Present-Day A2/AD Campaigns

As anti-access/area denial began to take hold as a term used in military circles, the literature on the topic shifted from indirect references to past wars to policy prescriptions for its use in great-power conflict, including a discussion of where A2/AD is most likely to be used and what its use means for U.S. operations and military objectives. The most popular subject among these works is China, whose significant investment in the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Missile Force is directly attributable to an ongoing A2/AD strategy in the Pacific. Following the lead of the previously noted A2/AD campaigns, China’s investments include new aircraft, sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, modernization of its surface navy and submarine force, and most importantly in the eyes of some authors,[xvi] precision-guided ballistic missiles.[xvii] These efforts, combined with the construction of a network of artificial island military bases in the South China Sea,[xviii] have created a strategy that is “a masterstroke of innovation” for China’s ever-expanding role as a world military power.[xix] A review of the literature discussing China’s advances reveals there is broad concern that this A2/AD strategy will be effective, and that it represents a “broader Chinese military challenge” [xx] to the United States in the Pacific. This concern over Chinese actions has led scholars to employ the case as a “useful lens” from which to evaluate other A2/AD campaigns, namely Russia’s efforts to block air and sea access to the Baltics via Kaliningrad.[xxi] Following the Chinese model, Russia has reversed course on its drawdown in aircraft and submarines stationed in Kaliningrad, and has deployed new SAM batteries to the area.[xxii] The commonalities among the Russian and Chinese buildups suggests that this iteration of A2/AD is being established as a prescription to deter US power projection in each location.

Literature on the Future of A2/AD Campaigns

An emerging but less robust literature on anti-access/area denial is its use outside of conventional military campaigns. These authors incorporate A2/AD with the growing importance of the cyber realm in war, and highlight how denial of internet-based operability can be just as devastating as denying a physical strategic position. During their 2008 invasion of Georgia, Russia undertook a campaign of information A2/AD which denied Georgians “access to the means and channels of communications”.[xxiii] This loss of communications impacted Georgian military commanders, and as a result amplified the success of conventional strikes carried out by Russian forces.[xxiv] While Russia was the dominant military in that conflict, scholars argue that cyber warfighting will soon be incorporated into the typical A2/AD strategy of denying a superior military the ability to maneuver both electronically and conventionally.[xxv] Denial of communication capabilities in outer space will also have to be considered as an important facet of future A2/AD campaigns. This stems from Chinese development of an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon in 2007, which has led scholars to conclude it is “reasonable” that such systems will be incorporated into large “space control” operations by future adversaries.[xxvi]

The common theme that exists in these current contributions to the topic is a focus on what components either were involved or should be involved in a successful anti-access/area denial campaign. But this review has revealed a gap – authors, while making policy recommendations, do not weigh these recommendations at the theoretical level. As of yet there is not a broad, parsimonious theory that seeks to understand why A2/AD campaigns are initiated in the first place, and what factors must be present for a given campaign to succeed? An analysis of these pieces does however reveal that questions about certain A2/AD components are being indirectly debated within the academic and military community. The present A2/AD strategy pursued by China, and Japan’s security as a result of this campaign, provides an example for such a debate. While some argue it would be preferable for Japan to triple its defense budget[xxvii] in order to bridge the current military spending gap between themselves and China, and therefore effectively counter the campaign, others doubt the importance of overall military spending across as a deciding factor in the success or failure of China’s actions.[xxviii] Whether or not a state must invest substantial resources in weaponry to produce a successful A2/AD campaign is an important variable that can be applied by policymakers in the future. Another potentially important variable revealed through this review was shown in the approach between the Cold War-era Soviet A2/AD strategy and the present-day strategy pursued by China. While both made significant investments in naval, air, and missile technologies, the Soviets opted for long-range power projection of its naval aviation, surface, and submarine units,[xxix] while China’s campaign in the South China Sea has relied on construction of static, permanent bases to station men and materiel within the zone of contention. Understanding if range is a deciding factor in the success or failure of a campaign will help us assess China and Russia’s current A2/AD efforts.

Theory

The proceeding sections of this paper will answer this question, with the investigation rooted in some assumptions on the changing dynamics of military operations and how potential A2/AD success is affected as a result. First is the smaller scale on which effective warfighting is conducted today, specifically the increased use of special forces in military campaigns worldwide. Though many of their operations are classified, US special forces have been involved in a number of high-profile military success in recent years, most notably the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Though the overall size of the active military is shrinking, the ranks of special forces operators rose by 61 percent from 2001 to 2017.[xxx] Their effectiveness has resulted in an increase in their use, as US policymakers prefer the lower-profile style of special operators in the face of a war-weary public. This shift has been noticed by current head of special operations command Gen. Raymond Thomas, who said that instead of being “a mere 'break-glass-in-case-of-war' force, we are now proactively engaged across the battle space."[xxxi] But the United States is not alone in recognizing this trend, as China’s own history in war has informed an ongoing modernization campaign of its special forces. The impetus for this modernization has roots in 1978, when China’s full-scale invasion of Vietnam was stymied by a smaller Vietnamese force. This unexpected outcome left the government to reckon with the fact that “large formations of Chinese military manpower could be stopped by highly trained, combat-tested, professional militia and Special Forces.”[xxxii] In other words, one of the core elements of why states undertake A2/AD campaigns was also present in how Vietnam utilized its special forces against a more powerful military. This paper assumes that the trend of using small-scale military forces in lieu of the all-out wars seen in the past will continue to be effective, and should therefore inform the paper’s hypothesis.

Next is another important assumption made by this paper, which rests in the importance of defense spending, and how investment in modern military hardware and systems will impact a successful A2/AD campaign. China’s ongoing A2/AD campaign in the South China Sea will be assessed more thoroughly in the case studies section, but it is important to note that China’s present posture is supported by an ever-growing defense budget. Though often downplayed by state media sources (recent years’ have been described as “reasonable,”[xxxiii] “modest,”[xxxiv] and “moderate”[xxxv]) China’s increases in spending are unchanging, and sometimes outpace the country’s projected economic growth.

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According to experts on the People’s Liberation Army, the most impactful investment China has made for its ongoing A2/AD campaign in the South China Sea has been in its ballistic missile program.[xxxvi] New missiles such as the DF-41 illustrate the importance spending can have as the bedrock of an effective campaign, as the missile features A2/AD-friendly characteristics such as road-mobility, solid fuel, and a range of up to 15,000 km.[xxxvii] 

The last assumption which informs the paper’s hypothesis another trend in warfighting, that of militaries focusing on the use of joint operations. Joint operations are not a new concept for US military forces, but near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia have recognized where they lag behind the United States in their operational capacities and see opportunities to outpace the US military in future war planning. In the case of China, when Chinese President Xi Jinping discusses the future of the PLA he consistently talks about the importance of joint operations, saying the “army should integrate itself into the joint operation system of the PLA,”[xxxviii] and has stressed the need to “upgrade commanding capability of joint operations”[xxxix] in order to effectively respond to potential conflicts. This long-term goal will not be without challenges, as the service as a whole has encountered “challenges in integration” due in part to lack of actual combat experience.[xl] But China is nonetheless determined to improve this facet of its warfighting, and is using the ongoing operations of the PLAN and PLAAF in the South China Sea’s A2/AD campaign as a peacetime method of training.[xli] Russia on the other hand has an eye toward the future, and sees space operations as the next realm for the necessity of joint military capabilities. Russian military experts note that “fighting in the integrated aerospace domain with strategic goals in mind…requires unity of effort and command”, a fact that was recognized by Russian military leadership when the combined Aerospace Forces were formed in 2015.[xlii] If Russia truly assesses they are the “disadvantaged force in aerospace, especially when it comes to military space application,”[xliii] A2/AD operations against the more powerful US military would be a logical way forward.

Taking these assumptions into account, this paper hypothesizes that: in order to undertake a successful A2/AD campaign, the campaign must: include significant investment in defense spending – specifically on materiel used for potential A2/AD efforts, have operations that are conducted jointly (i.e. multiple branches of the military pursuing a common strategic goal), and be limited in scope to a specific physical or cyber battle space, as opposed to an all-out war.

Methodology

Answering this question requires a mix of both qualitative and quantitative data sources. Most of the information on past and present A2/AD campaigns is gleaned from government reports and histories on each conflict. This information is compiled and the resulting narrative of each A2/AD effort is used as a case study against which variables can be analyzed. In order to obtain a robust sample of the varying types of A2/AD campaigns throughout history, the paper uses three cases that encompass a broad spectrum of military operations: the Egyptian “missile umbrella” during the Yom Kippur War, the Soviet naval strategy in the North Atlantic during the Cold War, and China’s present-day standoff with the United States in the Pacific as case studies.

Selecting these three cases was the result of a predetermined criteria that sought to increase the accuracy of the assessment. First, cases had to take place from the Cold War onward due to the importance of nuclear weapons in modern military planning. As military strategists of today must grapple with the looming specter of nuclear weapons use in conflicts of the future, any theory that gave weight to cases in the pre-nuclear age would be inherently flawed. Second, the cases were selected due to the varying circumstances under which each campaign was enacted. While China’s present-day campaign and the Soviet naval strategy occurred in times of simmering peace, Egypt’s missile shield was used in live combat against Israeli forces. Lastly, the three cases vary widely with regard to which forces were used and how enemy forces were (or would have been) engaged. Combining the land-based deployment of Egyptian surface-to-air missiles (SAM), Soviet naval ship and aircraft denial operations at sea, and China’s land-sea-air and electronic A2/AD campaign will allow for an analysis of all permutations of A2/AD.  This case study analysis incorporates both method of agreement and disagreement principles, which serve to isolate variables that prove or disprove the outcome of a successful A2/AD campaign in a given case.[xliv] The paper tests the variables from the hypothesis (investment, limited scope, joint operation) to see which yields success or failure.

Another important part of this paper’s methodology is incorporating an expert interview from Professor Michael Chase, who was contacted for his A2/AD expertise and is a former professor of the author. Using this interview adds important present-day context to an analysis that is otherwise reliant on past works, which is important for A2/AD’s ever-changing role in military strategy. Professor Chase has written on the subject of how A2/AD is being prescribed today and how states like China may undertake future campaigns; his analysis is integrated into the assessment of the paper’s hypothesis. As the paper hypothesizes that military spending will be important to the outcome of a given campaign, spending data is analyzed to find a correlation between investment in new military technology and a successful campaign. However, drawing conclusions from military spending alone proved problematic due to limitations in defense spending data accrual, specifically with regard to Russia and China. Though China’s military spending data is published openly by state media each year, estimates sometimes varied when compared to numbers provided by Western sources. A larger problem existed with Russian defense spending data, which was derived entirely from a single source and inconsistent when compared ad hoc with certain yearly data that was available.

Incorporating these factors provides evidence to prove or disprove the hypothesis, and in either case create criteria for what variables must be present for a successful A2/AD campaign. While the topic of A2/AD has become decidedly en vogue in the foreign policy community at-large, the intended audience for the paper will be the military, as the questions answered will impact US policymakers’ understanding of future warfighting practices. Answering these questions will not be straightforward however. The exact make-up of certain A2/AD campaigns – such as the one occurring in the South China Sea – encountered limited available data as to what forces and manpower have been deployed to the area.

Case Studies

Egypt - The Yom Kippur War

The first case study will explore an A2/AD campaign focused on denying an enemy’s air force and armor to an area during live combat. Egypt was able to successfully implement this campaign as a result of experience: from 1967 to 1970, Egypt and Israel fought the War of Attrition, so named as its duration was filled mostly with minor skirmishes. Following a three-year ceasefire, Egypt was ready strike in earnest. After ignoring a massive buildup of the Egyptian military (who dismissed the moves as an exercise[xlv]), Israel was caught unaware when on October 6th, 1973 the coalition forces of Egypt and Syria invaded the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, respectively.[xlvi] Though having the necessary men and material was important for the undertaking of this war, Egypt was also armed with the lessons learned from their previous encounter with Israel, and these lessons heavily influenced Egyptian strategy.[xlvii] The early hours of the invasion saw Israeli forces take heavy losses: the Southern Command engaged with Egypt lost two thirds of its 270 tanks, while the 188th Brigade fighting the Syrians was reduced to only 15 tanks in just one day of fighting.[xlviii] On October 8th, Israel counterattacked with three brigades and 200 tanks, believing the speed of an armor-led move would overrun the enemy and gain Israel access to recently-made Egyptian bridges which crossed the Suez Canal.[xlix] Instead, Egypt executed a masterstroke of anti-access tactics. After allowing IDF tanks to pass through their lines, Egyptians fired volleys of Sagger anti-tank missiles at Israeli forces, destroying two brigades’ worth of armor.[l] Learning from a Soviet doctrine that stressed the importance of anti-tank operations, the Egyptian military developed and trained numerous anti-tank units in the years prior to the war for an occasion such as this.[li] For bridgeheads such as the ones defended on October 8th, Egyptian plans “called for 19 to 21 guns or launchers per kilometer,” creating an impassable position for any armor that would stray close enough to Egyptian lines.[lii] As one historian writes, the Egyptian anti-tank strategy was the “knockout punch against Israel’s armor superiority.”[liii] During this counterattack, a second A2/AD strategy was being simultaneously employed by Egypt against attempted air support from the Israeli Air Force. This strategy was developed as one of the aforementioned lessons from the War of Attrition and involved the mass deployment of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles. By deploying mobile “missile umbrellas” of Soviet-made SAM-6 batteries, Egypt reduced the Israelis’ ability to operate in the airspace above the ground conflict, and shot down numerous Israeli Air Force planes throughout the day.[liv] The bridgehead was an important chokepoint for the movement of men and material, and made for a logical target of IDF bombing runs. However, Egypt’s missile umbrella neutralized the Israeli air advantage and therefore kept casualties incurred via bombing by aircraft to a minimum.[lv] In total, the IDF lost 114 aircraft during the conflict, all but 20 of which were shot down by anti-aircraft defenses.[lvi] Though the war brought some political success to the Arab coalition via the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, it was a tactical military failure: Egypt and Syria suffered a combined 11,200 dead with “two to three times” as many wounded, and Israel holding 9,000 prisoners of war.[lvii] The initial success-turned-stalemate for Egypt was not due to lack of investment, as the 1970s featured some of the highest amounts of defense spending in the country’s history and has not been reached since.

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Though the war at-large was not an unequivocal success for Egypt, the specific A2/AD campaign waged against Israeli tanks and aircraft was. Each variable – limited scope, joint operations, and significant investment – was fulfilled, but this is only one example of indicative evidence. Further cases will need to be evaluated against the criteria in order to assess whether or not these variables dictate a successful A2/AD campaign.

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Soviet Naval Strategy – The Cold War

The next case study features lower stakes but a more ambitious goal – the Soviet Navy’s A2/AD campaign across two oceans and thousands of miles during the Cold War. The Soviet strategy that began in the 1970s promised to be a far-reaching one, with the goal “to conduct sea denial operations…to about 2,000 kilometers from Soviet Territory.”[lviii] The CIA assessed that “virtually all of the Northern and Pacific Fleets’ available major surface combatants and combat aircraft and some three-quarters of their available attack submarines would be initially committed to operations in these waters.”[lix] The Soviet Union assessed that this maritime buffer was necessary in order to provide security to its troops on land; this may seem like a secondary goal for such an operation, but is logical in the context of Russia’s military history. Sea power had historically not been a concern for Russia, as historians point out: “the Mongols, Teutonic Knights, Poles, Swedes, French, and Germans all marched into Russia.”[lx] However, the importance of sea control during land invasions such as these was revealed during The Crimean War of 1854-56. Though “outnumbered by and technically inferior to the Anglo-French navies” against whom Russia was battling, its navy’s control of the Black Sea “frustrated support…of land operations” being conducted by the British and French.[lxi] Similar circumstances – that of a superior military seeking to support a ground-based attack – would be at play in the unthinkable event of a US-USSR clash in Europe during the Cold War.

Before analyzing the campaign itself, a caveat on Soviet defense spending is required. In short, an assessment of how military spending impacted the Soviet A2/AD campaign cannot be completed with any degree of confidence. The question of exactly how much the Soviet Union was spending on defense during this time is the subject of much speculation, and can only be answered through estimates. Defense spending data of any kind from the Soviet Union was hard to find during the Cold War, and when it was provided, the government’s “complete lack of consensus as to the exact situation”[lxii] of how money was to be spent meant that even figures provided from party leadership could be inaccurate. By 1990, publications such as The Military Balance – a leading voice in military analysis – said that it “had abandoned many years ago any attempt to assess the size of Soviet defense spending and its burden on the economy.”[lxiii] Despite these difficulties, estimates were still produced during the 1970s and 1980s. The Military Balance used figures from government sources such as the CIA in conjunction with their own research to provide estimates of Soviet military expenditure. According to these estimates, Soviet defense spending increased from 45 billion rubles in 1970, to 55 billion rubles in 1975, and finally 64 billion rubles in 1979.[lxiv] The CIA assessed that Soviet defense spending was impervious to “a slowdown in the rate of overall Soviet economic growth” and that the cumulative cost of Soviet expenditure from 1974 – 1983 exceeded “that of the US by a large margin.”[lxv] If the estimated investment was indeed significant, the resulting hardware would need to be put to proper use in order for the campaign to succeed.

The campaign began with an idea - a Soviet doctrine was crafted to deny the US access to any territory that was within realistic striking distance of a Soviet target, with a specific focus on anti-submarine planning. Conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW) over such a broad area however would prove to be a difficult task – as evidenced by the number publicly-known incursions made by US submarines.[lxvi] Additionally, Soviet naval doctrine did not focus on ASW until the 1980s, and when begun, was seen as an action to be done independently by naval forces only.[lxvii] This seems to disconnect from a Soviet emphasis on combined arms tactics, which specifically stressed that the “tactics of ship types and air combat arms” are interdependent.[lxviii] Part of this disconnect can be explained by the limited capabilities the Soviets had for ASW from the air. Though the Soviets possessed a number of aircraft (May, Bear F, and Mail planes and Haze A, Hormone A, and Helix helicopters) they were incompatible with the lofty goals of a 2,000-kilometer buffer zone. All three of the fixed-wing aircraft were “intended for localized rather than for broad area search operations,” while the helicopters were land-based, limited to a range of 100 miles, and “not suitable for shipboard operations” due to the inability to fold the rotors and tails of the craft.[lxix]

As an overt military conflict was not being conducted between the Soviet Union and the United States at the time, how can we assess whether or not the Soviet campaign was successful? The answer lies in the highly-publicized accidents due to incursions made by US Navy submarines and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself. It will likely take decades (if ever) for the full extent of US naval operations around the Soviet Union to be known, but two incidents involving US submarines off of the Russian coast demonstrate that the US was able to act with relative impunity when spying on Russian forces. In an incident shortly after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1992, the USS Baton Rouge, a Los Angeles-class submarine, collided with a Russian Sierra-class submarine only “fourteen miles away from the Russian port of Murmansk.”[lxx]  The aforementioned disconnect between how the Soviet Union invested in ASW capabilities and what was necessary for their ambitious policy underscores the point made by A2/AD experts today: Investment cannot succeed alone - a coherent structure has to be in place.[lxxi]

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China in the South China Sea – Present Day

The ongoing “warm war” in the South China Sea between the United States and China has been the subject of much attention but thankfully little combat. Tense situations such as the aforementioned “crashback” of the USS Cowpens during its encounter with the PLAN’s Liaoning are unlikely to subside in the coming years as the US attempts to maintain its strategic position while China’s military presence in the region grows. Assessing the effectiveness of China’s campaign presents a new challenge to the paper’s method as it is not a completed case, but evaluating its successes and failures can be done by analyzing two facets of China’s actions: how have US capabilities in the region been reduced so far as a result of A2/AD, and how is China’s strategy working to further impede US in the future? 

In order to explore the first question, it is necessary to understand what the PLA is attempting to achieve through A2/AD, explain how much the PLA has changed in recent decades, and how China’s military reforms have brought events in the South China Sea to where they are today. First, China’s A2/AD strategy is being employed to accomplish a number of military goals:

delay the arrival of U.S. and allied forces in theater; (2) prevent U.S. forces from using bases in the region to sustain military operations (or, failing that disrupt the use of these bases); and (3) keep the U.S. power-projection assets as far away as possible.[lxxii]

In order to accomplish these goals, the PLA has needed to undergo a top-to-bottom modernization and reorganization campaign. This military modernization has fundamentally shifted the strategic balance in the Pacific, and the United States must come to terms with the fact that this shift has left them on uneasy footing should a war ever arise. According to Gary Roughead, the co-chair of a bipartisan review of the Trump administration's defense strategy, “The U.S. could lose” a war with China, and this reality leaves us “at a significant inflection point in history.”[lxxiii] The beginnings of such a war are found within China’s A2/AD campaign in the South China Sea, a coordinated effort of military might and infrastructure-building that threatens to push the US out of the area. The success (or lack thereof) of A2/AD campaigns found in the previous cases appear to predicate upon an effective joint operations capacity, and the PLA’s reorganization has illustrated that China understands this. In 2016, the PLA was reorganized into five geographic theater commands[lxxiv], each of which is “responsible for military operations and have a strong focus on combining air, land, naval and other capabilities of the Chinese armed forces to suit modern warfare.”[lxxv] The two forces that need to operate together in the South China Sea from China’s point of view are found within the same service, the PLAN. In the United States we may take for granted that naval aviation is inherently a part of larger operations conducted by the Navy, but China’s lack of an aircraft carrier fleet (the Liaoning, though combat-ready, is described as a training vessel)[lxxvi] means efforts utilizing both these forces in an operation would put the PLAN in uncharted waters. China’s response to this fact has been a concerted campaign of training operations between forces in order to build habits for real-world scenarios. These include a 2015 nighttime take-off and landing drill from the Liaoning[lxxvii], and a 2013 Taiwan-focused amphibious landing scenario.[lxxviii] However, assessments of these drills illustrate just how difficult it is to transform a military’s practices. For example, the 2013 joint drill focused on Taiwan was given negative reviews, with “commanders continu[ing] to rely on old concepts; command staffs fail[ing] to use information systems effectively,” and showing “limited adaptability.”[lxxix] These imperfections would put the PLA at risk of defeat should war ever arise, but these imperfections do not mean that China’s A2/AD campaign has already been effective. This is due to significant investments made in platforms that – unlike in the Soviet Union case – pair well with the capabilities being asked for in the overall strategy.

China is realistic in its approach to the potential for a conflict with the United States. In a recent interview, a retired PLA colonel admitted “we cannot defeat the United States at sea,” in a symmetric conflict.[lxxx] What China can do however is pair its existing capabilities with an A2/AD strategy that impedes the US’s ability to fight this hypothetical war. One of the aforementioned goals of China’s A2/AD campaign was to prevent or disrupt the United States from using regional military bases, thereby keeping US assets as far away from the area as possible. While US bases on the islands of Guam and Okinawa remain open, their usefulness in the event of a war has been critically hampered due to China’s investments in its ballistic missile and long-range bomber platforms, and how these pair with the PLA’s reorganization. The most notable example is the PLA Rocket Force, a branch of the military created in 2016 for the purpose of operating platforms such as ballistic missiles. Experts say “China has the most advanced ballistic missile force in the world,” and cast doubt on the US’s ability to respond to this threat, conceding that China has “the capacity to overwhelm the defensive systems we are pursuing.”[lxxxi] For land-based targets China has deployed the ballistic missiles that satisfy all three goals of their A2/AD strategy. First is the DF-41 with an aforementioned[lxxxii] range of 15,000km and therefore the ability to strike the mainland United States. Though its use would be dramatic, it upholds the goal of preventing the United States from mobilizing for a potential war. Next, for military bases such as Guam, the PLA can employ the DF-26 - a road-mobile medium range (3,000-5,740km) missile that has earned the nickname “Guam killer”.[lxxxiii] The last missile is the DF-21D, a variant of the existing DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile platform. Known as the “carrier killer” the DF-21D can “target aircraft carriers to stop them from approaching our territorial waters if there were conflict”[lxxxiv] according to the aforementioned PLA colonel, and with “a range of up to 1,500 kilometers”[lxxxv] the missile nullifies the US’s ability to conduct naval activities in the area of the South China Sea. 

The previous case illustrated an unsuccessful attempt by the Soviet Union to use its air and naval power to deny the United States access to area of sea. While China’s A2/AD campaign is limited to the South China Sea as of today, the country’s leadership has signaled willingness to project military power beyond this limited scope. Control of the so-called second island chain – which ranges “from Japan through the Marianas and Micronesia” – is a goal that fits with the PLA’s reorganization and specific emphasis on expanding the PLAN to become a blue-water navy.[lxxxvi]  China’s ambition to deny the United States access to such an area would be destined to fail if they sought to defend it using only naval and air power, but the newly-formed islands that dot the South China Sea have ensured China will not repeat the Soviets’ mistake. Since the first dredger arrived in the Spratly Islands in 2013, China has created a number of artificial islands in areas of the South China Sea which are also claimed by the neighboring Vietnam and the Philippines.[lxxxvii]

5

Image: South China Morning Post

The artificial islands, some complete with runways, hangars, and radar antennas, work to extend the range from which China is able to conduct military operations to support its A2/AD campaign.[lxxxviii] Even more concerning to the United States was the May 2018 revelation that anti-ship and anti-air missiles had been deployed to the Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reef positions, adding a further deterrent to US ships in additional to the “missile shield” provided by the DF-21D and DF-26 ballistic missiles.[lxxxix]

Evaluations of military campaigns inherently require that they have been completed in order to analyze the outcome – this is not possible in the case of China in the South China Sea. However, past successes and failures can assist with informing a conclusion about the chances of the campaign’s success. China has taken the Soviet model of a joint air-sea A2/AD campaign and improved upon it by limiting its geographic scope and aligning significant military investment with weaponry that fulfills the goals of the strategy. Though this campaign is being conducted jointly, the PLA’s mixed results in joint exercises leaves some questions as to whether or not the campaign is working regardless of their joint capacity or despite it. Should war arise, this paper assesses that the United States’ ability to conduct operations in the area of the South China Sea would be significantly hampered.

6

Policy Recommendations

Using this paper’s conclusions to help understand how A2/AD campaigns are successful can impact the way the United States organizes its military and uses it around the world. A critical component of this involves how the United States creates and spends it defense budget; this paper has displayed the how important military spending can be to helping or hindering a state’s A2/AD campaign. The United States could use help in managing its defense costs: the US famously spends far more on its military than any other nation in the world, with a $716 billion-dollar budget approved for 2019.[xc] Despite this massive amount of spending, the US strategy in countering China’s hold on the South China Sea has been unsuccessful, and if unchanged, this failure is doomed to repeat its outcome in future A2/AD cases. Though the US Navy frequently sails through areas such as the Taiwan Strait and Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea as a display to a commitment to the region, these actions amount to little more than symbolic gestures. Other adversaries who have observed China’s strategy – namely Russia and Iran – will be equally as effective in their own strategies if the United States does not change course.

In analyzing how A2/AD campaigns can be successful, this paper specifically notes how well China’s campaign – through its use of long-range deterrents such as missiles and aircraft – has worked. According to A2/AD experts, replicating China’s capabilities would be relatively cost effective – so why wouldn’t the United States develop similar types of capabilities to prevent China from projecting power?[xci]  If our allies and partners (or the United States itself) has their own A2/AD systems, China can be kept at arm’s length just as the US is being kept at bay today. This idea has already been taken up by regional players: Vietnam’s development of submarines and anti-ship cruise missiles[xcii], as well as Japan’s modernizing of their military (which budgets for new long-range weapons)[xciii], are two guides to follow. China’s development of its artificial island bases should also serve as inspiration to the United States and its allies to install A2/AD-ready systems on island bases of their own. The proximity of US-friendly nations in the South China Sea region (Vietnam increasingly so, along with Singapore and Taiwan) mean equipment could be installed on territorial claims of each state in a way that mirrors China’s own strategy. This equipment could include defensive measures, such as land-based sensors to detect Chinese missiles launches, and offensive measures, such as runways for aircraft and anti-ship or anti-air missile batteries.[xciv] Should states such as Iran or Russia undertake A2/AD campaigns of their own, this strategy translates to other parts of their world due to the US’s ability to deploy equipment in the Middle East (within Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE) and Europe (among NATO partners) respectively.[xcv] This paper recommends that the United States refocus its military procurement in order to align with a the more cost-effective strategy of an A2/AD campaign of its own in South China Sea.

The aforementioned importance of containing A2/AD campaigns to a certain area can help inform both how the United States employs A2/AD and assist with assessing others’ campaigns. The realm where this will be most important is in the A2/AD campaigns of the future – those taking place in electronic battlefields on Earth and also in outer space. We have yet to see the devastation that can be wrought on a military with ASAT weaponry or all-out electronic warfare, but the consequences could be severe: in the words of one professor, a country “could be propelled back into the nineteenth century.”[xcvi] The effectiveness of the campaigns conducted by Egypt and China (as opposed to the ambitious Soviet campaign) displayed how even small-scale disturbances to an adversary’s forces can create chaos to its larger strategy. Using this same strategy, only concentrating it against vital communications and reconnaissance networks (such as undersea cables or satellites) or infrastructure could result in fewer casualties but similar levels of incapacitation. The United States cannot be complacent to this possibility. This paper recommends continued investment in missile defense systems which, while improving, do not achieve one hundred percent accuracy during testing.[xcvii] Nullifying an enemy’s capability to fire ASAT missiles at US satellites will go a long way to ensure our continued access to outer space. With regard to infrastructure that could be targeted by cyberattacks such as Russia’s attack on Georgia in 2008, this paper recommends that the United States invest more than the $100 million appropriated last year for modernizing government cybersecurity measures, and establish federal baselines of cybersecurity measures for private companies to meet.[xcviii]

A2/AD is unlikely to disappear as a military strategy in the coming decades. China’s success against the United States has created a playbook for potential adversaries to follow, illustrating how the might of the US military can be stifled by effective military spending and prudent deployment of assets to a specific battlespace. The conclusions of this paper can used to better inform the US procurement process to assist policymakers with spending efficiently, and illustrate how to effectively counter A2/AD campaigns with improved military strategy. The twentieth century was defined by the Cold War, a rivalry between states that produced decades of tension but was thankfully without direct conflict. A2/AD is paving a road for “warm wars” of the future, and this time the world may not be so lucky.

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End Notes


[i] Michael Fabney. 2017. Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp.139-143

[ii] Ibid p. 143

[iii] Ibid p. 150

[iv] Andrew Krepinevich, Barry Watts & Robert Work, “Meeting the Anti-Access and Area-Denial Challenge,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, pp. 4-5, May 20, 2003, https://csbaonline.org/research/publications/a2ad-anti-access-area-denial/publication

[v] Stephan Frühling & Guillaume Lasconjarias, “NATO, A2/AD and the Kaliningrad Challenge,” Survival, 58:2, p.97, March 18, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2016.1161906

[vi] According to the journal Foreign Affairs, ‘A2/AD’ was first used in an article in its July/August 2009 issue.

[vii] Hope Hodge Seck, “Here’s Why the Navy Won’t Talk about ‘A2/AD’ Anymore,” Military.com, October 4, 2016, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/10/04/heres-why-the-navy-wont-talk-about-a2ad-anymore.html

[viii] James R. Holmes, “Flashy Name, Old Idea: Anti-Access Strategy,” The Diplomat, October 28, 2012, https://thediplomat.com/2012/10/flashy-name-old-idea-anti-access-strategy/?allpages=yes&print=yes

[ix] Timothy Choi, “A Century On: The Littoral Mine Warfare Challenge,” Center for International Maritime Security, January 27, 2016, http://cimsec.org/a-century-on-the-littoral-mine-warfare-challenge/21461

[xi] “Naval Aviation in Soviet Antiship Attack Planning: National Foreign Assessment Center” Director of Central Intelligence, p.1 (Washington, D.C.: 1 September 1979)

[xiv] Ibid.

[xvi] Biddle and Oelrich note significant investment in other platforms is not necessarily needed, so long as a country has precision-guided ballistic missiles. See discussion and citation 13 below

[xviii] Neil Connor, “China Triggers New Storm Over Military Build-Up on Artificial Islands,” The Daily Telegraph, January 9, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/09/diplomatic-protests-china-shows-militarised-artificial-islands/

[xix] Oriana Skylar Mastro, “The Stealth Superpower: How China Hid Its Global Ambitions,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 98, Iss. 1, (Jan/Feb 2019): p.33

[xx] Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, September 21, 2015, p.3, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

[xxi] Stephan Frühling & Guillaume Lasconjarias “NATO, A2/AD and the Kaliningrad Challenge”, Survival 58:2, March 18, 2016, p. 96, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2016.1161906

[xxii] Ibid. p. 104

[xxiii] Ronald J. Deibert, Rafal Rohozinski, and Masashi Crete-Nishihata. “Cyclones in Cyberspace: Information Shaping and Denial in the 2008 Russia–Georgia War,” Security Dialogue 43, no. 1 (February 2012): p. 12

[xxiv] Ibid. p. 12

[xxv] Erica D. Borghard & Shawn W. Lonergan, “The Logic of Coercion in Cyberspace,” Security Studies, 26:3, May 8, 2017, p. 471, https://doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2017.1306396

[xxvii] Eric Heginbotham and Richard J. Samuels. "Active Denial: Redesigning Japan's Response to China's Military Challenge." International Security 42, no. 4 (2018): p. 156. https://muse.jhu.edu/

[xxviii] Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich. “Future Warfare in the Western Pacific,” International Security, 41, No. 1 (Summer 2016), p.12, doi:10.1162/ISEC_a_00249 (accessed February 4, 2019)

[xxx] W.J. Hennigan “The New American Way of War,” Time Magazine, November 30, 2017, http://time.com/5042700/inside-new-american-way-of-war/

[xxxi] W.J. Hennigan, “U.S. Special Operations Forces Face Growing Demands and Increased Risks,” The Los Angeles Times, May 25,2017, https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-special-operations-20170525-story.html

[xxxii] Col. Timothy D. Brown & Darryl J. Lavender, “China’s Special Operations Forces Modernization, Professionalization and Regional Implications,” US Army War College, March 2013. p.3

[xxxiii] China to Lower Defense Budget Growth to 7.5 Percent,” Xinhua, March 5, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-03/05/c_137869489.htm

[xxxiv] “Spotlight: China's Defense Budget Increase ‘Eclipsed’ by U.S.” Xinhua, March 5, 2017, http://www.xinhuanet.com//english/2017-03/05/c_136104599.htm

[xxxv] “China Defense Budget to Increase 12.2% in 2014,” China Daily, March 5,2014, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014npcandcppcc/2014-03/05/content_17323159.htm

[xxxvi] Interview with Prof. Michael Chase

[xxxvii] “Missile Defense Project, "Dong Feng 41 (DF-41 / CSS-X-20)," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, published August 12, 2016, last modified June 15, 2018, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/df-41/.

[xxxviii] ” Xi Inspects Military, Stresses Rraining, War Preparedness,” Xinhua, September 29, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-09/29/c_137502426_2.htm

[xxxix] Li Jiayao, “Xi orders armed forces to enhance combat readiness,” China Military Online, January 4, 2019, http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2019-01/04/content_9396346.htm

[xl] Timothy R. Heath, “China’s Untested Military Could Be a Force—or a Flop,” Foreign Policy, November 27, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/27/chinas-untested-military-could-be-a-force-or-a-flop/

[xli] Tobias Burgers & Scott N. Romaniuk, “Joint Operations and the Evolution of US Joint Doctrine,” Defense Report, August 2016, https://defencereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Defence-Report-Joint-Operations-and-the-Evolution-of-US-Joint-Doctrine-Romaniuk-Burgers.pdf

[xlii] Matthew Bodner, “As Trump Pushes for Separate Space Force, Russia Moves Fast the Other Way,” Defense News, June 21, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/06/21/as-trump-pushes-for-separate-space-force-russia-moves-fast-the-other-way/

[xliii] Ibid.

[xliv] Stephen Van Evera “Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science” (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

[xlv] P.R. Kumaraswamy, 2000. Revisiting the Yum Kippur War, London: Frank Cass Publishers. p. 8

[xlvi] Nadav Safran. "Trial by Ordeal: The Yom Kippur War, October 1973." International Security 2, no. 2 (1977): p.137. https://muse.jhu.edu/.

[xlvii] Dani Asher, 2009. The Egyptian Strategy for the Yom Kippur War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, p.32

[xlviii] Ibid. pp.148-149

[xlix] Ibid.p.153

[l] Ibid. p. 152

[lii] Ibid. p.136

[liii] Ibid. p.133

[lv] Dani Asher, 2009. The Egyptian Strategy for the Yom Kippur War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers, p.33

[lvi] Nadav Safran. "Trial by Ordeal: The Yom Kippur War, October 1973." International Security 2, no. 2 (1977): p.165. https://muse.jhu.edu/.

[lvii] Ibid.

[lviii]  “Soviet Naval Strategy and Programs through the 1990s: National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 11-15-82/D17” Director of Central Intelligence, p.5 (Washington, D.C.: 15 November 1982)

[lix] Ibid.

[lx] Bruce W. Watson and Susan M. Watson, 1986. The Soviet Navy: Strengths and Liabilities. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. p.4.

[lxi] Bruce W. Watson and Susan M. Watson, 1986. The Soviet Navy: Strengths and Liabilities. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. pp. 10-11

[lxii] (1991) The Soviet Union, The Military Balance, 91:1, p.35, DOI: 10.1080/04597229108460028

[lxiii]  (1990) The Soviet Union, The Military Balance, 90:1, p.33, DOI: 10.1080/04597229008460018

[lxiv] (1981) The United States and the Soviet Union, The Military Balance, 81:1, p.15, DOI: 10.1080/04597228108459912

[lxv] (1985) Soviet Military Power, Central Intelligence Agency, p.10. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP88B00745R000100140025-7.pdf

[lxviii] Ibid. p.3

[lxxi] Michael Chase, personal interview

[lxxii] Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes, (2010). Red Start Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy. p. 6 Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press

[lxxiii] David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim, “How China is Replacing America as Asia’s Military Titan,” Reuters, April 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-army-xi/

[lxxiv] “China's Military Regrouped into Five PLA Theater Commands,” China Military Online, February 1, 2016, http://english.chinamil.com.cn/news-channels/china-military-news/2016-02/01/content_6884789.htm

[lxxv] David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim, “How China is Replacing America as Asia’s Military Titan,” Reuters, April 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-army-xi/

[lxxvi] China Power Team. "How Does China’s First Aircraft Carrier Stack Up?" China Power. December 9, 2015. Updated December 14, 2018. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://chinapower.csis.org/aircraft-carrier/

[lxxvii] Guo Yuandan, “China Makes Crucial Progress in Carrier-Borne Aircraft's Night Takeoff & Landing,” China Military Online, May 25, 2018, http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2018-05/25/content_8042338.htm

[lxxviii] Mark R. Cozad, “PLA Joint Training and Implications for Future Expeditionary Capabilities,” RAND Corporation, p. 9 January 21, 2016, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/CT400/CT451/RAND_CT451.pdf

[lxxix] Ibid.

[lxxx] David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim, “New Missile Gap Leaves U.S. Scrambling to Counter China, in Shift That Leaves Japan at Risk,” Japan Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/28/asia-pacific/new-missile-gap-leaves-u-s-scrambling-counter-china-shift-leaves-japan-risk/#.XMmphDBKiUk

[lxxxi] David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim, “New Missile Gap Leaves U.S. Scrambling to Counter China,” Reuters, April 25, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-army-rockets/

[lxxxii] See “Theory” Section

[lxxxiii] Lee Jeong-Ho, “Next Stop Guam? China Shows Off its Next generation DF-41 and DF-26 Ballistic Missiles,” South China Morning Post, February 2, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2184782/next-stop-guam-china-shows-its-next-generation-df-41-and-df-26

[lxxxiv] David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim, “New Missile Gap Leaves U.S. Scrambling to Counter China, in Shift That Leaves Japan at Risk,” Japan Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/28/asia-pacific/new-missile-gap-leaves-u-s-scrambling-counter-china-shift-leaves-japan-risk/#.XMmphDBKiUk

[lxxxv] Lee Jeong-Ho, “Next Stop Guam? China Shows Off its Next generation DF-41 and DF-26 Ballistic Missiles,” South China Morning Post, February 2, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2184782/next-stop-guam-china-shows-its-next-generation-df-41-and-df-26

[lxxxvi] Wilson Vorndick, “China’s Reach Has Grown; So Should the Island Chains,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 22, 2018, https://amti.csis.org/chinas-reach-grown-island-chains/

[lxxxvii] Brahma Chellaney, “Beijing’s South China Sea Grab,” Japan Times, December 18, 2018, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/18/commentary/world-commentary/beijings-south-china-sea-grab/#.XMos4WhKg2x

[lxxxviii] Liu Zhen, “China Builds Rescue Centre on Artificial Spratly Island in South China Sea,” South China Morning Post, January 30, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2184351/china-builds-rescue-centre-artificial-spratly-island-south

[lxxxix] Steven Stashwick, “China Deploys Long-Range Anti-Ship and Anti-Air Missiles to Spratly Islands for First Time,” The Diplomat, May 5, 2018, https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/china-deploys-long-range-anti-ship-and-anti-air-missiles-to-spratly-islands-for-first-time/

[xci]  Michael Chase, personal interview

[xcii] Alex Vuving, “Tracking Vietnam’s Force Build Up in the South China Sea,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, November 3, 2017, https://amti.csis.org/tracking-vietnams-force-build-south-china-sea/

[xciv] Timothy M. Bonds, Joel B. Predd, Timothy R. Heath, Michael S. Chase, Michael Johnson, Michael J. Lostumbo, James Bonomo, Muharrem Mane, and Paul S. Steinberg, What Role Can Land-Based, Multi-Domain Anti-Access/Area Denial Forces Play in Deterring or Defeating Aggression? Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017. p.81 https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1820.html.

[xcv] Timothy M. Bonds, Joel B. Predd, Timothy R. Heath, Michael S. Chase, Michael Johnson, Michael J. Lostumbo, James Bonomo, Muharrem Mane, and Paul S. Steinberg, What Role Can Land-Based, Multi-Domain Anti-Access/Area Denial Forces Play in Deterring or Defeating Aggression? Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017. pp.95-96 https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1820.html

[xcvi] Carin Zissis, “China’s Anti-Satellite Test,” Council on Foreign Relations, February 22, 2007, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-anti-satellite-test

[xcviii] Katherine Charlet, “Government in the Crosshairs: Recommendations for Federal Cybersecurity,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 12, 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/04/12/government-in-crosshairs-recommendations-for-federal-cybersecurity-pub-76022

Categories: anti-access - China

About the Author(s)

Nick Impson is a Research Associate at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Policy Studies and Political Science from Syracuse University. His writings have previously appeared in the Georgetown Security Studies Review.

Comments

Interesting piece. A few points:

 

1) I find A2/AD to be a cumbersome acronym, and I prefer the term "bite-and-hold", which comes from First World War trench warfare

 

2) Although the Yom Kippur War is an important example, I think the example is limited to the Egyptian/Sinai front

 

3) I am surprised that the Falklands War is not mentioned, as it features more air and naval warfare than Yom Kippur 

 

4) Although China's defense spending has increased, so too has its economy, and there is no spike as a % of GDP, as we saw with Argentina and Egypt in the years prior to the Falklands and Yom Kippur Wars, respectively

 

Source: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS?locations=CN-AR-EG