Tuesday, November 12, 2013

609 Asian Century to end early, as Western Pacific bloodbath looms

Asian Century to end early, as Western Pacific bloodbath looms

Newsletter published on 29 July 2013

(1) Asian Century to end early, as Western Pacific bloodbath looms
(2) Pentagon preparations for War with China, cf the Cold War
(3) Pentagon Preparing for War with China? - Las Vegas Guardian Express
(4) Eric Margolis tells Japan to stand up to China, develop Nuclear Weapons
(5) South Korea unites with China against Abe's resurgent Japan
(6) Gorbachev comment: At stake is whether US will try to police a “Pax
Americana” - a recipe for disaster - or partner with other nations
(7) AirSea Battle for Dummies
(8) Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart
(9) Air-Sea Battle and the Challenge of Access
(10) Air Force Magazine: purpose of AirSea Battle is to deter China from
seeking to drive US out of Western Pacific
(11) Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies at Aspen Security Forum - Max

(1) Asian Century to end early, as Western Pacific bloodbath looms -
Peter Myers, July 29, 2013

News of the Pentagon "Air-Sea Battle" plan to fight China, or at least
frighten it into submission, has only just reached the Alternative media
(which we are part of). And the mainstream media still maintain silence
about it - quite possibly under orders from on high "not to alarm the
horses". Yet military and security webpages talk openly of it.

China's territorial claims against Japan could well push it to go
Nuclear. The last years of Hu Jintao showed deplorable diplomacy, as
China united its neighbours against it.

Japan is probably already a nuclear power, but covertly. Abe wants it to
remilitarize and become an overt Nuclear Power, freed of pacifist
inhibitions. Abetting by the likes of Eric Margolis (who would have
thought it?) only makes this more likely.

If Japan goes Nuclear, South Korea is likely to follow. It is aggrieved
and fearful about Japan's lack of remorse over colonization and WWII;
the two have territorial disputes as well. In the China-Japan split,
South Korea has clearly sided with China (see item 6).

North-East Asia could suddenly become a very dangerous place.

As South Korea and Japan, two key American allies, fall out, what
happens to the American bases - those "unsinkable aircraft carriers"? If
the militarists in Japan gain ascendancy, they may try to "go it alone".

Japan has already reached out to India; both fear China. Pakistan, its
economy in tatters, has accepted a lifeline from China - a transport
corridor from Xinjiang province to Gwadar, a deep-sea port on the
Arabian Sea, not far from the Persian Gulf.

Sri Lanka defeated the Tamil Tigers with the use of Chinese weapons;
other countries had refused to supply it. In return, Sri Lanka has let
China build ports there. Myanmar likewise, similarly ostracized by the
West, is providing China with port access to the Indian Ocean.

The Phillipines, Uncle Sam's closest ally/colony, risks annihilation in
any clash with China. Other countries in South-East Asia fear China, but
are wary of antagonizing it. Even Singapore does not want to take sides.

Australia is torn between those pushing ever greater Free Trade - which
means Outsourcing as well as openness to Foreign buyouts - and those
envisaging future war. What will happen to all those factories in China?

With the end of the Cold War, the United States could have pursued a
policy of peace and economic equality. Instead, at Neocon urging, it
intervened militarily, decade after decade, giving resurgent Asian
powers the worst possible example.

At the same time, Free Trade and Shareholder-Value management have led
to the hollowing-out of the US economy. The decline of its civilian
industries will impact on its military too, meaning that if it wants to
take on China, it must do so in the next few years, before the decline
has gone too far.

My earlier email on this topic was truncated (for many readers), so I am
resending the later parts.

(2) Pentagon preparations for War with China, cf the Cold War

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2013 23:44:37 -0700
Subject: Re: Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? - Amitai
Etzioni, on "Air-Sea Battle" Pentagon plan
From: Archer Frey <archerfrey@gmail.com>

Peter everything after (5) below missing. Archer

Predictable, symmetrical responses are a big part of why the Cuban
Missile Crisis, for example, did not lead to war. The Soviets put
missiles in Cuba, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised bombing the
missile sites, but Kennedy realized Russians would strike back. So
instead we used our ships to stop their ships that were trying to bring
more missiles in. It was a near-run thing, but it worked, and no one got
blown up. Conversely, using new weapons and tactics can provoke people
to retaliate in ways you don’t expect. The Germans thought a
proportionate response to the Royal Navy’s blockade of German ports
would be for U-boats to sink every ship bound for Britain, including
neutral ones, but Woodrow Wilson disagreed, which is why the US ended up
entering World War I.

(3) Pentagon Preparing for War with China? - Las Vegas Guardian Express


Pentagon Preparing for War with China?

Added by Graham Noble on July 28, 2013.

Las Vegas Guardian Express

Few Americans know what goes on at the Pentagon – the headquarters of
the United States military – and, most of the time, few care. Of greater
concern is the fact that few of America’s elected political
representatives know very much about what the Generals are doing,
either. Currently – and without much congressional oversight – the
Pentagon is preparing for war with China.

It is, of course, the job of the Defense Department to plan for various
contingencies, including strategies for dealing with emerging threats.
It was for this reason that, in late 2008, a strategy was born that has
since developed into a major Pentagon project aimed at neutralizing the
perceived threat of China, the world’s newest superpower. This project
is now known as AirSea Battle.

The AirSea Battle project is, in its most simplistic form, the plan for
pre-emptively attacking and neutralizing China. The project covers the
development of new weapons, technologies and military capabilities that
will be necessary for carrying out such an attack. Former Secretary of
Defense, Robert Gates, gave the project his official blessing in 2010.
The Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review Report directed the
military to “develop a joint air-sea battle concept . . . [to] address
how air and naval forces will integrate capabilities across all
operational domains—air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace—to counter
growing challenges to U.S. freedom of action.” Leon Panetta, who
succeeded Gates as Defense Department chief, also endorsed the project
and established the Multi-Service Office to Advance AirSea Battle, as
described by Amitai Etzioni, Professor of International Affairs at The
George Washington University, in an article for Yale Journal of
International Affairs.

AirSea Battle requires “interoperable air and naval forces that can
execute networked, integrated attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy, and
defeat enemy anti-access area denial capabilities.” The project
acknowledges that “[t]he scope and intensity of U.S. stand-off and
penetrating strikes against tar gets in mainland China clearly has
escalation implications.”

Does the development of the AirSea Battle project mean that President
Obama – or, indeed, the Pentagon – actually intends launching a military
strike against the Chinese? There is nothing to indicate such an
intention. In addition, China is not yet at the point where it could
seriously challenge the United States, militarily. As Etzioni infers,
however; the mere existence of AirSea Battle may prompt the Chinese to
escalate their own defense spending and planning for military

It should be noted that Pentagon officials deny that the project is
aimed specifically at China. It appears to be widely accepted, however,
that the scope and nature of the AirSea Battle clearly indicate that it
is being developed with China in mind. As one senior naval officer put
it, “Air-Sea Battle is all about convincing the Chinese that we will win
this competition.”

The Chinese, of course, are aware of the project and are presumably in
little doubt that AirSea Battle was developed with them in mind.

The most unsettling aspect of this Pentagon project, however, is that it
has been neither reviewed, nor approved, by either the White House or
Congress; it was conceived by the military and approved by the Defense
Department, but appears to have moved forward with little involvement or
oversight by the civilian leadership of the United States. In 2011,
Admiral Robert F. Willard wrote to Defense Secretary Panetta that
“[d]espite reports throughout 2011 AirSea Battle had been completed in
an executive summary form, to my knowledge Members of Congress have yet
to be briefed on its conclusions or in any way made a part of the process.”

The military, therefore is preparing for war with China without the
approval of elected representatives. The Pentagon, it seems, is quite
literally above the law.

Graham J Noble

(4) Eric Margolis tells Japan to stand up to China, develop Nuclear Weapons

Japan Must Face Up To China

Eric Margolis

28 July 2013

World War II has never really ended for Japan. Sixty-eight years after
the battleship US “Missouri” sailed into Tokyo Bay to receive the
surrender of the Japanese Empire, Japan still behaves like a meek,
defeated nation rather than one of the world’s great powers – and great

Economically, Japan is a giant, albeit a staggering one. Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party just secured full control of both
houses of Japan’s parliament. Abe’s “three-arrow” reform program has
injected new life in Japan’s formerly stagnant $5 trillion economy
industry and driven down the over-valued yen.

But military, Japan remains a midget. Its so-called Self-Defense Forces
were designed to stop a Soviet amphibious invasion of the northern
islands. Japan’s US-written pacifist constitution prohibits all
offensive military operations or exports of arms and military equipment.

The 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty laid the foundation of relations
between Washington and Tokyo. The US in effect pledged to defend Japan
against all comers; amusingly, Japan pledged to help defend the US – but
banned from sending military forces abroad. The key to the treaty was
the establishment of permanent US air, land, and sea bases in Japan.
They remain, half a century later.

Japan thus became a giant US aircraft carrier from which it dominates
highly strategic North Asia. In exchange, Japanese industry was given
open access to the US market, thus laying the base of Japan’s economic
upsurge of the 1960’s. South Korea enjoyed a similar deal.

This cozy arrangement is now being challenged by the rapid rise of
China’s military and economic power. Just this week, a Chinese military
aircraft that overflew waters near Japan’s Okinawa, provoked an uproar
in Japan.

Over the past year, Chinese aircraft, warships and submarines have
challenged Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, ruled
by Japan since the late 19th century, but now claimed by China. Even
more worrying, China has begun asserting claims to Okinawa on the basis
that its independent rulers paid tribute to Imperial China in the past.

These claims, and China’s rapid development of a true blue water navy
and long-ranged aircraft that can project power into the Pacific, and
Beijing’s increasingly assertive claims to all the East China Sea, are
deeply alarming Japan.

As the nationalist drums beat ever louder in China, Japanese
increasingly feel vulnerable. Japanese are asking whether the US would
really risk nuclear war with China to defend Japan’s Senkaku or Ryukyu

China, for its part, sees its rising naval and maritime power
constricted, even threatened, by the Japanese archipelago that acts as a
giant barrier, blocking China from the open Pacific.

The Soviet Union faced a similar problem accessing the North Pacific.

For China’s fleets and oil tankers, getting to the Pacific means running
the barrier of Japan’s home islands, the Senkaku and Ryukyus (Okinawa),
or going through the Philippine’s narrow Luzon Strait. To no surprise,
the US is negotiating with Manila to reopen the Subic Bay naval and air
base that the US vacated in 1992.

China is clearly trying to muscle its way out of the East China Sea and
into the Pacific. But, on a grander strategic scale, China is trying to
demean and punish Japan for World War II by making it lose face over the
naval and air challenges, and showing Asia who is now the big dog on the

Japan is perfectly aware of this grave challenge but undecided on how to
respond to the biggest threat it has faced since World War II. The
choices seem to be: hope the US will block China’s expansion; or abandon
the US-imposed strictures from the post-war period, develop a real
foreign policy, and create credible military forces – including nuclear

Doing so means casting off Japan’s eternal bowed head, apologetic
attitudes and obedience to its former WWII enemies. That would be a vast
sea change in Japan, where most people appear happy to accept the status
quo – or at least until another big military scare from China.

The naming of Caroline Kennedy, a major Obama supporter and donor, as
ambassador to Japan is hardly the right person in these troubled times.

Japan has to cast off its cross of shame over having been defeated in
the 1940’s and renew its national spirit.

(5) South Korea unites with China against Abe's resurgent Japan


Abe and Japan’s regional diplomacy

July 20th, 2013

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

As Japan heads to its upper house election on 21 July, a victory for the
Shinzo¯ Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), reinforcing its December
2012 lower house election win, looks likely.

It is widely feared, particularly in China and South Korea, that such an
outcome will give Prime Minister Abe leverage to implement his desired

Many in China and South Korea fear that Abe will roll back Japan’s
peaceful post-war security posture by amending Article 9 of the
Constitution, which forswears the use of military force. Yet, in spite
of Abe’s personal convictions, the danger that a strengthened
post-election Abe government will be able to overcome the three hurdles
necessary to amend Article 9 — a two-thirds majority vote in each house
of parliament followed by a simple majority in a national referendum —
is relatively low. The LDP has close to two-thirds in the lower house
after it swept the December 2012 election. However, only half of the
seats of the upper house are up for re-election, so even if the LDP
makes significant gains as predicted, it is extremely unlikely it will
be able to boost its seats up to a two-thirds majority.

Moreover, LDP electoral gains should not be interpreted as a mandate for
Abe’s foreign policy vision but rather weariness with the Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) and public support for Abenomics and his economic
policy strategies. Securing a simple majority in a national referendum
to amend Article 9 is likely to prove tough unless the public loses
faith in the credibility of the US–Japan alliance vis-à-vis China and
North Korea. At present public sentiment toward the US is strong. The
Japanese Cabinet Office’s annual foreign policy survey showed that a
record 84.5 per cent of respondents indicated an affinity for the US.
The US military was also able to garner much goodwill through its
cooperation with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the aftermath of
the 11 March triple disaster through Operation Tomodachi.

A possible alternative to Article 9 amendment is reinterpretation. This
would theoretically allow for one of Abe’s stated aims: collective
self-defence. The current individual self-defence interpretation allows
for an exclusively defence-oriented defence policy. Japan is supposed to
only maintain armaments at the minimum necessary level for self-defence.
Possession of offensive power projection capabilities and collective
defence actions — such as coming to the support of an ally’s ship under
attack or shooting down a North Korean missile heading toward a third
country — are prohibited. The key actor to watch regarding
interpretation is the Cabinet Legislation Bureau; Abe would need to
persuade these guardians of Article 9 to make the shift.

Another fear emanating out of China and South Korea is that a resurgent
Japanese economy might itself lead to increased Japanese military
spending. South Korean Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok even compared the
risk Abenomics posed to his country with risks posed by North Korea. The
release of Japan’s 2013 defence white paper, which noted a defence
spending increase, provoked similar fears. But the increases — 0.8 per
cent to ¥4.68 trillion (US$52 billion) as well as the Coast Guard budget
going up by 1.9 per cent to ¥176.5 billion (US$2.1 billion) — at this
stage are more symbolic than anything else. Japan’s high public debt,
its ageing population’s disinclination toward tax hikes and demands for
continued health and pension welfare spending, keeping defence spending
under 1 per cent of GDP in the spirit of Article 9, and the
underwhelming follow through on Abenomics’ third arrow of structural
reform to facilitate growth, make concerns about Japan’s defence budget
appear overblown.

Going forward there are four main dangers to Japan’s relations with its
regional neighbours under the Abe government.

First, the rhetoric and symbolic actions of the Abe administration, even
if not altering the substance of the day-to-day operations of the SDF,
are perceived in Beijing and Seoul to have real negative effects in
Japan’s relations with these key neighbours. It was hoped that when new
leaders came into office in China, Japan and South Korea almost
simultaneously at the end of last year, the focus of Japan’s relations
with these neighbours would shift away from an excessively narrow focus
on history and territorial disputes and toward cooperation. The Abe
administration’s rhetoric has soured the mood and whipped up a storm of
anti-Japanese sentiment. Abe’s flip-flop on revising the Japanese
government’s position on the comfort women issue and the question of
Japan’s wartime culpability; his statements that he regretted not
visiting Yasukuni during his first stint as prime minister and that the
definition of ‘aggression’ has yet to be agreed upon by academics; and
an inopportune photo of Abe sitting in an SDF plane emblazoned with the
number ‘731’ (harking back to Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army
which conducted lethal chemical and biological warfare experiments on
Chinese citizens), all have been highly damaging. The Abe government
would be wise to keep its counsel on these sensitive matters and prevent
friction from hindering cooperation in other areas.

Second, Abe may seek to put in place stepping stones that would lower
the obstacles to achieving rearmament in the future. He has debated the
idea of amending Article 96 of the Constitution to lower the barrier for
constitutional reform to a simple majority in both houses of parliament
rather than a two-thirds majority. Another danger sign would be if Abe
were to replace key personnel within the Cabinet Legislation Bureau in
order to smooth the way for reinterpreting Article 9.

Third, friction within the US–Japan alliance needs to be avoided given
that a major loss of confidence would prompt the Japanese public to
reconsider its current security strategy of reliance on the United
States. Issues such as the over-concentration of US military forces in
Okinawa, the relocation of the Futenma Marine Airbase, and the US living
up to its security commitments as per the US–Japan Security Treaty in
disputed territories such as the Senkaku Islands require careful handling.

Finally, there is the risk that Japanese cooperation with India,
Australia and ASEAN countries will be interpreted by China as encircling
behaviour. While these countries should deepen cooperation with Japan,
improve confidence building and promote transparency, they should also
encourage the Abe government to engage with China in positive ways.

As Japan continues to increase its security roles and seeks to
contribute to regional and global peace, it must do so in a way that is
based on liberal internationalist and not nationalist considerations and
is sensitive to the concerns of its two important neighbours, China and
South Korea.

Ben Ascione is a PhD candidate in international relations at the
Crawford School of Public Policy, the Australia National University, an
associate researcher at the Japan Center for International Exchange, and
an associate editor at the EAF Japan and North Korea desks.

(6) Gorbachev comment: At stake is whether US will try to police a “Pax
Americana” - a recipe for disaster - or partner with other nations

{this book seems to take a Chomskyist line - Peter M.}


The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter
Kuznick (hardback October 30, 2012)

“Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick provide a critical overview of US
foreign policy during the past few decades. There is much here to
reflect upon. Such a perspective is indispensable…At stake is whether
the United States will choose to be the policeman of a “Pax Americana,”
which is a recipe for disaster, or partner with other nations on the way
to a safer, more just and sustainable future.”(President Mikhail Gorbachev)

(7) AirSea Battle for Dummies


June 17, 2013

By Harry Kazianis

With the AirSea Battle Office's recent document laying out in greater
detail this important operational concept, one would think most would
have a good grasp on this important topic.

For the last several years, debate has raged in a variety of national
security circles. Various pundits have argued against the concept as
highly escalatory risking even greater tensions in the U.S.-China
relationship. Despite ample disclosures from the U.S. military and the
scholarly community, there still seems to be confusion concerning what
AirSea Battle (ASB) is, what it is not, and its possible effects on the
future of modern warfare.

First, let's clearly state what ASB is: an operational concept (as
pointed out by M. Scott Weaver), not a battle plan or a blueprint to
fight a war or even conduct a military campaign. According to Milan
Vego, an operational concept "is used to refer to the application of
military power within a certain framework, regardless of the objective
to be accomplished. It does not pertain to a specific level of war, and
is generic or universal in nature." So while ASB would predominately be
a guiding operational concept targeting the Anti-Access/Area-Denial
(A2/AD) capabilities of states like China and Iran, it certainly would
never be a fully conceptualized battle plan. AirSea Battle would be used
in various scenarios to gain and maintain access to a contested combat
zone or theatre of operations. Other military objectives as part of a
larger battle plan would call for other tactics, fighting likely across
multiple domains (land, air, sea, cyber and space), utilizing various
plans or strategies. Simply stated: ASB is only one piece of a larger
puzzle when it comes to 21st century warfare.

Second, ASB must be understood as a reaction to a unique military
problem -- but not all problems U.S. forces may need to confront in the
future. Just as the revolution in military affairs (RMA) brought about
the age of smart bombs, stealth fighters, network-centric warfare and
combat forces that can communicate and wage battle with an ever
increasing level of "jointness," a counter-revolution has also been
building. Nations who find themselves at odds with the U.S. have looked
for ways to compete asymmetrically with Washington's impressive military
power. Many have come to the conclusion that denying access or creating
a challenging environment for U.S. forces to operate in across multiple
domains thanks to the proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles,
ultra-quiet conventional submarines, sea mines, and cyber warfare is the
only way to compete with the arsenal of a superpower. This is the
challenge that ASB seeks to negate.

Cleary though, A2/AD is not the only challenge America will face in the
years to come. Domestic and international terrorism, climate change
challenges, natural disasters, and hostile non-state actors must all be
part of U.S. military contingency planning.

Third, since we do not have access to the classified version of ASB, we
will never know for sure how this operational concept will be rolled
into a battle plan. However, one of the main critiques of ASB, that it
could allow for airstrikes on mainland China with the possible threat of
a conflict going nuclear, must be looked at through the prism of modern
war. Yes, there is a possibility that American planners in various
scenarios could advocate for such strikes. However, equally frightening,
many scholars who study China's A2/AD strategy see the possibility of
Beijing launching massive conventional ballistic and cruise missile
strikes against U.S. and allied bases in Okinawa, the home islands of
Japan, and possibly Guam and others in a first strike in various
scenarios. Simply stated: any conflict between China and the United
States where A2/AD and ASB go head to head would be a frightening affair
-- with ghastly consequences globally that should not be taken lightly.

Fourth, and perhaps most important of all, cyber will eventually become
the most important domain of modern warfare, and an area where ASB must
link all domains together to create the ultimate advantage over
asymmetrical competitors. With the modern battlefield interlinked
together like never before, losing control over cyberspace on any level
could create a situation where a would be aggressor puts in play all
other domains of the modern battlefield. If an opponent were able to
strike U.S. command and control (C2) with malware or a virus that
cripples the ability to communicate between combatant commanders and
their superiors or took away the ability to track enemy movements, the
damage to combat operations and lives lost would be incalculable. In the
years to come, cyber will be the most important domain for competing
forces to control as it will have vast influence over all others. For
ASB to be an effective strategy, the proper resources, training, and
staffing must be ensured so cyber does not become a domain of doom for
U.S. war fighters. Thankfully, the latest ASB document clearly makes
cyber a top priority.

Truthfully, an operational concept cannot cover all contingencies and is
never perfect. Yet, ASB's goal is to solve the problem posed by A2/AD
allowing battlefield commanders to gain and maintain access and achieve
wider military goals. There is no gentle way to solve such a challenge
as nations crafting anti-access strategies have developed strategies
that attempt to keep parties away from contested areas. Fighting the
U.S. symmetrically would be suicide. A2/AD is an attempt to level the
playing field -- but we must remember what ASB is and its limited scope
of operations. ASB is a response to a unique challenge that is already
before us that is not going away, like it or not.

Harry J. Kazianis is a non-resident WSD Handa Fellow at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, PACNET. He has previously served as
Editor-In-Chief for The Diplomat.

(8) Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart


By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on July 09, 2013 at 3:35 PM

PENTAGON: In intellectual terms, Air-Sea Battle is the biggest of the
military’s big ideas for its post-Afghanistan future. But what is it,
really? It’s a constantly evolving concept for high-tech, high-intensity
conflict that touches on everything from cyberwar to nuclear escalation
to the rise of China. In practical terms, however, the beating heart of
AirSea Battle is eleven overworked officers working in windowless
Pentagon meeting rooms, and the issues they can’t get to are at least as
important as the ones they can.

“It’s like being a start-up inside a great, big, rigid corporation,” one
Air-Sea Battle representative told me in an exclusive briefing last
month. The Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO) has just 17 staff: those eleven
uniformed officers, drawn from all four services, plus six civilian
contractors. None of them ranks higher than colonel or Navy captain.
Even these personnel are technically “on loan,” seconded from other
organizations and paid for out of other budgets. But those 17 people sit
at the hub of a sprawling network of formal liaisons and informal
contacts across the four armed services and the joint combatant commands.

“Air-Sea Battle has left the building,” said a second officer at the
briefing. “We’ve reached the grass roots, and we’re getting ideas from
the grass roots.”

So the good news is that the Air-Sea Battle Office isn’t just another
big Pentagon bureaucracy, let alone the anti-China cabal it’s sometimes
of accused of being. Instead, in essence, it is an effort to develop
compatible technologies and tactics across all four services for a new
kind of conflict: not the Army and Marine-led land war against low-tech
guerrillas we have seen since 9/11, but an Air Force and Navy-led
campaign against “anti-access/area denial” forces that could fry our
networks, jam GPS, and hit our planes, ships, bases, and even satellites
with long-range missiles. China is the worst case scenario here, but not
the only one.

The bad news is, precisely because ASBO is not a big bureaucracy, the
smart, earnest, small staff of the “start-up” can only really focus on
existing weapons and organizations. They are deluged by the near-term
nitty gritty of getting existing organizations and weapons programs to
work together in a future war. That leaves little time to explore
potentially revolutionary new technologies not already embedded in the
Pentagon’s seven-year plan, the Program Objective Memorandum (POM). That
also leaves them little time to think through the often scary strategic
implications of how the next war will be waged.

In fact, the ASBO was very carefully set up not to handle war planning,
strategy, or high-level policy. By design, it is only a collaboration
between the four armed services – originally just the Air Force and
Navy, but now joined by the Army and Marines. It is deliberately
distinct from the Joint Staff and the joint combatant commands. “That’s
not to say we’re divorced from the Joint Staff, [let alone] fighting
against each other,” said one officer, but “the benefit for the service
chiefs is they can reach right down to us,” without going through joint

That leaves the Air-Sea Battle Office to focus on the services’ Title X
responsibilities to “train, organize, and equip” the force, while
leaving how, when, and why to use the force up to the joint world.
“We’re working on making sure that a rifle has interchangeable magazines
and ammunition,” another officer said, as an analogy. “We’re not worried
about how it’s going to be used. Those policy decisions are not really
what this office considers.”

It’s not that they’re blind to those bigger issues. Originally, “when
the concept was written, we put a boundary on it and we said, ‘hey,
we’re not going to address nuclear weapons,’” said another officer.
“Since then we’ve realized, ‘hey, we do need to deal with nuclear

Most military officers are as reluctant as the rest of us to contemplate
nuclear war, and since the Berlin Wall came down, they’ve largely been
able to ignore it as we fought relatively low-tech foes. But Air-Sea
Battle is driven – though few will say so on the record – by threats
from Iran, which may soon have the bomb, from North Korea, which has had
it since 2006 and is working on fitting nuclear warheads into an ICBM,
and from China, which has had nukes since 1964 and already has a sizable
arsenal of nuclear missiles. Air-Sea Battle envisions a clean campaign
of precision non-nuclear strikes, but, paradoxically, the more effective
such conventional operations become, the more likely a hard-pressed
adversary is to resort to nuclear weapons in response.

China, Iran, and the US itself are also all increasingly aggressive in
cyberspace, a brave new war whose ramifications are as little understood
today as nuclear radiation was in the early 1950s. Unlike nukes, cyber
operations – both offensive and defensive – have been at the heart of
Air-Sea Battle from the beginning, since it envisions future warfare as
a clash not just between missiles, ships, and aircraft but between the
computer networks linking them. Why shoot down planes or satellites one
at a time when frying the enemy’s network can neutralize all his
hardware at once?

Even here, however, the Air-Sea Battle Office keeps its approach
carefully and consciously constrained. Wargames have explored what kinds
of cyber capabilities might be useful in what scenarios and how quickly
military decision makers need to be able to react. But there remain huge
unanswered questions about who has the legal authority to do what in a
cyber conflict. ASBO makes recommendations, said one officer, but “who
makes the decision, ultimately, to authorize the release [of a cyber
weapon such as a virus] is not in this office’s wheelhouse.”

Nor has anyone worked out what counts as escalation or provocation in
cyberspace. In the nuclear and espionage arenas of the Cold War, the
equivalent questions took academics, strategists, and diplomats decades
to work out. Cyber conflict is at least as complicated, but if anyone’s
working out the game theory, it isn’t the Air-Sea Battle Office.

“We’re providing the capabilities for the combatant commanders so the
president has options,” said one officer. “Escalation is a policy decision.”

Unrestricted Warfare

What ASBO does deal with is scary enough. Air-Sea Battle is typically
depicted as a doctrine for long-range exchange of missiles with China in
the troubled Western Pacific or with Iran in and around the Persian
Gulf: US air and sea forces try to push their way in while battling
enemy “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD) forces trying to keep us out.
But that’s just part of it.

To start with, it’s nigh impossible to keep such conflicts safely
contained “over there,” in some distant war zone. Any enemy that wants
to defeat US forces at its front door must attack the global networks
that support them, especially the worldwide “Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance” (C4ISR) system, whose backbone is satellites in orbit.

“There’s no range associated with cyber and space effects,” said one
officer, “and the longer and longer range of the sophisticated
technologies drives you to be ready when you deploy.” That’s actually an
understatement, however. An enemy savvy enough to hack our global
computer networks – or just send a suicide bomber to, say, the Navy base
in San Diego – can bring our forces under attack before they deploy.

Even in the foreign war zone, US forces won’t start outside the reach of
enemy weapons and work their way in, as they did in the Pacific and
European campaigns of World War II. Modern cruise and ballistic missiles
are so long-ranged that our forward forces may well be inside the
enemy’s A2/AD defense zone when the bad guys turn it on.

So even if Iran can’t hack our global networks, our ships in the Gulf
and our ground bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar may be in missile
range as soon as the shooting starts. They’ll be under threat and quite
possibly cut off. The same holds for US ships in the Western Pacific and
for forces based in South Korea and Japan in a conflict with China. So
the opening phases of an Air-Sea Battle may look a lot less like Douglas
MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign, with US forces advancing across the
Pacific, and much more like MacArthur’s doomed defense of the
Philippines, with US forces unprepared, under siege, and fighting for
their lives.

This, incidentally, is where the ground forces come in to Air-Sea
Battle, not just as targets but as the first line of defense. The Army
is responsible for land-based missile defense, so Patriot and THAAD
batteries will play a crucial role in defending the Air Force’s forward
bases. Even Navy ships at sea may well find it advisable to fall back
towards friendly shores so they can augment their own Aegis anti-missile
systems with the Army’s land-based defenses. Just getting all these
systems to work together is a major technical challenge.

(There’s also a significant minority that wants the Army to revive the
offensive intermediate-range ballistic missile capability that it had
during the Cold War, albeit this time with non-nuclear warheads, to give
missile-shooting enemies a taste of their own medicine).

The Marines don’t do missile defense, but they do provide short-ranged
airpower, especially airpower that doesn’t depend on long runways or
full-sized aircraft carriers. V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors might rescue
downed Air Force and Navy pilots, while F-35B jump jets can operate from
roads, parking lots, and other ad hoc airfields too numerous and
low-profile for the enemy to easily target, offered one officer.

Both Army and Marine ground troops may also be essential to defending
forward bases and missile-defense batteries against terrorist-style
strikes, seaborne raiders, or even conventional ground attack. US ground
troops may stage their own amphibious strikes to seize sites for new
forward bases, which was their main role in the Pacific in World War II.
Special operators may slip ashore to pinpoint targets for long-range
strikes and to inflict damage and confusion behind the enemy’s front lines.

So while Air-Sea Battle may be mostly about the air and sea, one officer
said, “it’s going to interlink with land throughout. You can’t think of
a place where you’re going to fight where there isn’t going to be a
single atoll, peninsula, or some form of a land mass” that can serve as
a forward base for one side or the other.

The trick, of course, will be surviving. Big US bases in Afghanistan and
Iraq were immune to anything but harassing fire from the insurgents, but
being a large, stationary target in range of sophisticated missiles is
another matter. “In Gulf War I [in 1991], we had the SCUD… a land-attack
ballistic missile,” said one officer. “We were worried about those, but
we weren’t very worried because they weren’t too accurate.” (That said,
a single lucky SCUD strike on a US barracks in Dhahran killed 27
soldiers). “With the advances in technology, these systems are now
becoming more precise and more lethal.”

As a result, there’s real anxiety among some allies who live inside the
range of, for example, Chinese missiles that the US will simply pull
back and fight from a safer distance. “One of the questions you commonly
get from the Japanese [about Air-Sea Battle is] they wonder if it’s
about moving back to a defensible perimeter, withdrawing from the
Japanese islands, withdrawing from forward positions,” one officer said.
“We’ve told them actually it’s quite the opposite, it’s about being able
to maintain forces forward deployed under a threat.”

If we get Air-Sea Battle right, it will reassure friends and deter
adversaries. If we get it wrong, though, it will unnerve friends and
provoke adversaries instead. The problem is that getting it right
depends on much more than tactics and technology – and it’s not clear
who, if anyone, is answering the crucial strategic questions.

Edited 6:45 pm

(9) Air-Sea Battle and the Challenge of Access


David W. Kearn

Jul 02, 2013

In recent years, U.S. defense experts have focused on the growing
"Anti-Access/Area Denial" (A2/AD) challenge from the Peoples Republic of
China (PRC). China has developed and deployed military capabilities that
undermine the U.S. capacity to project power into China's littoral
areas. These include advanced ballistic and cruise missiles, quiet
modern submarines, extensive air defenses, and potentially decisive
offensive cyber-warfare applications. In a potential worst-case
scenario, a highly-coordinated first-strike by China could essentially
disarm Taiwan, and also knock U.S. forward bases in the Western Pacific
off-line. Because U.S. naval vessels would also be at risk within a
contested zone extending off China's coastline, the United States
response would be severely limited.

To address this challenge, thinking within some quarters of the Pentagon
has seemingly centered on a new operational concept called Air-Sea
Battle (ASB). Analogous to the Air-Land Battle concept that envisioned
close coordination between U.S. airpower and ground forces to defeat
numerically superior Soviet armored forces in Western Europe during the
1980s, ASB would integrate elements of U.S. air and naval power to
maintain and expand the capacity of the United States to project power
around Taiwan and in China's littoral regions. The Pentagon is quick to
assert ASB is an operational concept; not a specific strategy or battle
plan focused on any specific nation. However, it is expected to shape
and inform the way the Pentagon invests in research and development,
procures and deploys new weapons systems, and reconfigures force
structures and manpower requirements over the longer-term. As a
component of larger U.S. approaches to executing critical missions that
address threats to U.S. security interests, ASB would maintain access in
contested zones in important regions. It is asserted that this capacity
would deter China from future provocation, reassure Taiwan and America's
allies in the region, and enhance stability in the event of a political

As it is presented, Air-Sea Battle is not without potential problems.
First, in reality it may be difficult to develop cost-effective
technological solutions to overcome China's geographic "home field"
advantage vis-à-vis Taiwan. Certain ideas, like ringing China's
periphery with new conventional ballistic missiles would seem highly
provocative, potentially destabilizing in the event of crisis (both
sides may have incentives to strike first), and both excessively costly
and diplomatically controversial. The United States is currently
prohibited from developing or deploying these types of missiles under
the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, which is
similarly constrained. Other programs like a next-generation penetrating
bomber to replace the B-2 would also be costly, but may provide the
United States with more flexible capabilities and contribute to a
wider-range of missions.

Second (and closely related) is that almost any alternative operational
approach that seeks to improve U.S. deterrent capabilities is predicated
on destroying targets on the Chinese mainland. This, in and of itself,
is highly problematic and fraught with danger. Once targets on Chinese
soil are hit, the potential for escalation would increase significantly.
Under conflict conditions, it may be difficult for Beijing to know what
the United States may be targeting and why. If Chinese leaders thought
that its own nuclear forces might be at risk or that the United States
was committed to regime change, there could be strong incentives to
escalate, even to nuclear weapons.

Third, at a fundamental level, China values Taiwan more highly than the
United States does. Even if the Pentagon was completely unconstrained in
terms of resources and could acquire and deploy all of the components of
an Air-Sea Battle approach, neither the expectation of significant
punishment nor the potential failure to achieve its maximum political
objectives would realistically deter China from launching a punitive
campaign against Taiwan in the event that Taipei unilaterally declares
independence. The nature of deterrence in the event of a cross-Straits
crisis is thus quite different from the challenge confronting the United
States and NATO forces in Europe during the Cold War. Air-Sea Battle may
be an important starting point in the development of a clearer, more
comprehensive understanding of what the United States may require to
deter China from attempting to impose its preferred resolution to the
status of Taiwan. However, it seems to be a "maximal" approach which is
likely to be costly, risky in terms of escalation, and perceived as
highly threatening and provocative by Beijing. The United States must
develop alternatives to enhance its abilities to deter China while also
reassuring Taiwan and U.S. regional allies, and avoiding the dangers of
provocation and escalation in the event of a crisis.

(10) Air Force Magazine: purpose of AirSea Battle is to deter China from
seeking to drive US out of Western Pacific


Air Force Magazine

2,010 No. 882,010

AirSea Battle

A new operational concept looks to prepare the US and its allies to
deter or defeat Chinese power.

By Richard Halloran

After three Air Force C-130 pilots and crews from Yokota Air Base in
Japan finished an exercise called Cope West 10 in Indonesia in April,
they wrote up evaluations of Halim Air Base and other airfields from
which they had operated, assessing the condition of runways, reliability
of electrical supply, safety of fuel storage, and adequacy of parking ramps.

Until now, that would have been a routine report to prepare for the next
time American airmen might use Indonesian air bases. With the emergence
of a joint Air Force-Navy operational concept called AirSea Battle,
however, intelligence on airfields has taken on new significance.

A critical element in the concept is to identify alternate airfields all
over Asia that Air Force and Navy aircraft might operate from one day.
US aircraft can be dispersed there, making life hard for a potential
enemy such as China to select targets. Dispersed bases simultaneously
would make it easier for an American pilot needing an emergency landing
site to find one if his home base had been bombed.

AirSea Battle looks to prepare the US and its allies to deter or defeat
China’s rising military power. It envisions operations of USAF fighters,
bombers, and missiles coordinated with Navy aircraft flown from carriers
and land bases—plus missiles launched from submarines and surface ships.
Nuclear war plans will also be folded into the AirSea Battle operation.

A question, however, has arisen over who will control the joint war.
USAF expects the 613th Air and Space Operations Center of 13th Air Force
at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, to be assigned that task, but the Navy has
traditionally been loath to give up control of its carrier air wings.

Moreover, the Navy has organized Maritime Operations Centers that would
need to be meshed with USAF’s AOCs, and Air Force and Navy sensors and
communications gear that are not now compatible need to be made so.

At US air and naval bases in Japan, South Korea, and Guam, the evolving
AirSea concept calls for hardening command centers, communication nodes,
hangars and repair facilities, fuel tanks, electrical generators,
warehouses, shipyard machine shops, and just about anything else that
can be protected from missile attack. For runways and ramps that can’t
be protected, RED HORSE engineers are to be posted in protective
shelters nearby from which they can swiftly emerge to repair damaged areas.

The plan even calls for developing new materials that will harden in far
less time than ordinary concrete to make a damaged runway operational again.

Further, AirSea Battle will incorporate an "active" defense, employing a
variety of measures to destroy enemy aircraft and missiles or to reduce
the damage of such attacks. Active defense relies on aircraft, air
defense weapons, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. In
particular, AirSea Battle calls for greater emphasis on the development
of ballistic missile defenses.

The purpose of AirSea Battle is clearly to deter China, with its rapidly
expanding and improving military power, from seeking to drive the US out
of East Asia and the Western Pacific. If deterrence fails, AirSea
Battle’s objective will be to defeat the People’s Liberation Army, which
comprises all of China’s armed forces. The Obama Administration and the
Pentagon contend that war with China is not inevitable, which may be so,
but a memo outlining the purpose of a previous AirSea Battle wargame
left no doubt that the US is preparing for that possibility.

"The game will position US air, naval, space, and special operations
forces against a rising military competitor in the East Asian littoral
with a range of disruptive capabilities, including multidimensional
‘anti-access’ networks, offensive and defensive space control
capabilities, an extensive inventory of ballistic and cruise missiles,
and a modernized attack submarine fleet," the memo read. "The scenario
will take place in a notional 2028."

There is only one "rising military competitor in the East Asia
littoral," and that is China. Long term, China offers the only real
potential threat to US national security, far more than Iraq,
Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea.

In perhaps the most remarkable expansion of military power since the US
geared up for World War II, China has relied on its surging economy to
provide double-digit annual increases in military budgets. The Chinese
are fielding an array of advanced jet aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles,
radar, anti-air and anti-submarine ships, and minelayers intended to
deny US air and naval forces access to Chinese skies and nearby waters.
They are building a blue-water Navy to project power eastward toward
Alaska, Guam, and even Hawaii and south into the South China Sea and the
Indian Ocean.

Coordinated Requests

AirSea Battle is not conceived as a "go-it-alone" initiative but one
that will rely on allies in the Pacific and Asia, notably Japan and
Australia, as US forces seek to overcome what is known in this region as
the tyranny of distance. Americans who haven’t traveled the Pacific
often have no notion of how far apart things are. For example, it is
twice as far from Tokyo to Sydney, Australia (4,921 miles), as from
Washington, D.C., to San Francisco (2,442 miles).

In addition to Japan continuing to host American forces, AirSea Battle
calls for greater integration of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces with US
forces stationed in that country, particularly in intelligence and
warning systems. Japan would be asked to continue contributing to the
development of ballistic missile defenses and to increase its own air
defenses. AirSea Battle would call on Japan to expand its anti-submarine
barriers down through the Ryukyu Islands in southwestern Japan and into
the Sea of Japan. Political turmoil in Tokyo today will make that
coordination difficult, to say the least.

In contrast, the alliance between Australia and the US, resting on a
foundation laid down during World War II and continuing ever since, is
less likely to be affected by political changes in the government. Thus,
AirSea Battle would have the Australians develop anti-ship cruise
missiles and to erect long-range radar that would improve coverage in
the southern hemisphere. The Australians take a special interest in the
Southwest Pacific region that can be helpful to the US. Overall,
Australia provides the alliance with strategic depth.

AirSea Battle calls on the Air Force and Navy to devise a division of
labor to eliminate duplication in resources and equipment. The two
services, for instance, have begun planning for a new joint air launched
cruise missile to replace the aging AGM-86 and BGM-109 Tomahawk. So far,
only relatively small change has been spent for wargames and research.
Those engaged in AirSea Battle say that coordinated requests will go
forward in the Fiscal 2012 budget. A good portion of that will go into
joint training and robust wargames.

Even as the Pentagon is contemplating AirSea Battle to deter or defeat
China, the US has been seeking stable, working military relations with
the PLA. At the annual Shangri-La gathering of Asian and Pacific
military leaders in Singapore in June, Secretary of Defense Robert M.
Gates said the US wanted "sustained and reliable military-to-military
contacts at all levels that reduce miscommunication, misunderstanding,
and miscalculation. There is a real cost to the absence of
military-to-military relations. I believe they are essential to regional
security—and essential to developing a broad, resilient US-China
relationship that is positive in tone, cooperative in nature, and
comprehensive in scope."

At the same time, Gates has been publicly supportive of the AirSea
Battle venture. In the Quadrennial Defense Review published in February,
he said the Pentagon was directing "more focus and investment in a new
Air-Sea Battle concept, long-range strike, space and cyberspace, among
other conventional and strategic modernization programs."

The precedent for AirSea Battle was AirLand Battle, an Army-Air Force
effort in the 1980s to dissuade the Soviet Union from striking through
the Fulda Gap in Germany and seeking to drive to the English Channel.
Gen. Colin L. Powell, onetime corps commander in Germany and later
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said the US might resort to
nuclear arms if NATO could not stop the first two waves of the Soviet force.

No Fait Accompli

The concept of AirSea Battle is being forged in a collaborative effort
of Pacific Air Forces, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments, and the Pentagon’s influential Office of Net Assessment.

AirSea Battle was begun under the former PACAF commander, Gen. Carrol H.
Chandler, now vice chief of staff of the Air Force. CSBA is a Washington
think tank with close ties to the Pentagon, two of its chief
researchers, Jan M. van Tol and Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., having worked
in the Office of Net Assessment, while Mark A. Gunzinger was engaged in
drafting the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guidance and Jim Thomas toiled
on the Quadrennial Defense Review. The Office of Net Assessment, often
labeled the Defense Department’s internal think tank, has been led for
nearly 40 years by Andrew W. Marshall, considered to be among the
nation’s foremost strategic thinkers.

Over the last three years, the collaborators have staged a half-dozen
wargames to scope the tasks of AirSea Battle and have sent their
findings to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton A.
Schwartz, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead.
Schwartz and Roughead signed a memorandum of understanding in September
to proceed on AirSea Battle. Each appointed a team of four O-6s to draft
tentative doctrine to govern AirSea Battle.

The draft doctrine will undoubtedly be sandpapered for many months
before an agreement is reached.

Based on PLA writings, researchers at CSBA have discerned a likely
Chinese strategy for seeking to drive US forces out of the western
Pacific, a strategy they say "mimics the Imperial Japanese strategy of

The Japanese mounted the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,
1941, intending to destroy the US Pacific Fleet. Simultaneously, the
Japanese Army invaded the Philippines and broke out of northern Vietnam
to transit across Thailand into what is now Malaysia and on to
Singapore. They took what is now Indonesia, critical islands in the
South Pacific, and threatened Australia, then marched to the Gates of
India. Japan intended to present the Western powers with a fait accompli
and sue for peace. That strategy, however, failed.

China, say the researchers, may be planning a pre-emptive missile strike
intended to destroy US air bases at Osan and Kunsan in South Korea;
Misawa, Yokota, MCAS Iwakuni, and Kadena in Japan; and bases on the US
island of Guam, plus US naval bases at Yokosuka and Sasebo in Japan.
South Korean and Japanese forces would be attacked. Chinese missile,
naval, and air forces would try to keep other US forces out of range, to
disrupt US command lines, and to block logistic resupply.

"The overall strategy may be to inflict substantial losses on US forces,
lengthen US operational timelines, and highlight the United States’
inability to defend its allies," the CSBA analysts wrote. "Once this is
accomplished, the PLA could assume the strategic defense and deny
reinforcing US forces access to the theater until the US determines that
it would be too costly to undo what would, in effect, be a fait accompli."

If the Chinese attack, AirSea Battle would have US forces begin an
active defense, disperse aircraft and ships, and rely on hardening and
resilience to ride out and to recover from the assault.

The US and its allies would initiate a "blinding campaign" to knock out
Chinese reconnaissance aircraft, surveillance satellites, and
long-range, over-the-horizon radar. B-52 bombers and Ohio-class
submarines, both armed with conventional cruise missiles, would seek to
suppress further Chinese missile salvos and aerial assaults.

Gradually, the US would gain the initiative in the air, on the sea’s
surface, and in the undersea domain, relying on the better quality of US
aircraft, ships, and submarines and the superior training of airmen,
sailors, and submariners.

American forces from the continental US would begin to flow into the
Pacific to enter a protracted campaign. A "distant blockade" against
Chinese shipping would be started in the East and South China Seas and
the Strait of Malacca and other passages, as Chinese industry is heavily
dependent on imports. That would be easier than a close blockade just
outside Chinese ports.

Basing Options Abound

A sustained logistic flow from the US into the Pacific would be built
up, and industrial production of weapons, equipment, and especially
precision guided munitions would be stepped up.

A complicated aspect of AirSea Battle will be identifying alternate air
bases such as the one the C-130 crews operated from in Indonesia and
then gaining long-term access to them. For many bases, the State
Department may be required to negotiate agreements permitting US
aircraft to fly in on short notice. That may stir diplomatic trouble as
some nations worry that the Chinese will object.

In addition, funds may be required to bring the condition of some
airfields up to snuff.

High on the list of basing possibilities are air bases the US has used
in the past, such as Clark Air Base in the Philippines, dating back to
1903. The Philippine government and the volcanic eruption of Mount
Pinatubo caused the US to leave Clark in 1991, but the base’s runways
have been scraped off, and the airfield is occasionally used by US
forces passing through the Philippines.

In the Northern Marianas, airfields on Saipan and Tinian were built by
naval construction battalions (Seabees) during World War II. Airfields
at U Tapao and Korat in Thailand were built by the Thais but upgraded
and expanded by the US during the war in Vietnam.

Air bases in northern Australia have been used for joint exercises.

An intriguing possibility might be Tan Son Nhut, the airport near Saigon
(now Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam, built by French colonials in the
1930s and expanded by the US during the war in Vietnam. It is now the
major civilian airport in southern Vietnam.

Similarly, the Vietnamese port at Cam Ranh Bay, the finest in Southeast
Asia, was a stopping place for a Russian fleet on the way to disaster at
the hands of the Japanese in the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. Japan used
it to prepare for its drive into Southeast Asia during World War II, and
the US enlarged it during the Vietnam War. Whether the Vietnamese, who
don’t much like the Chinese but see no need to anger them, would allow
US warships to use the port is open to question.

US military leaders have been cultivating Indian military leaders for
several years and might ask for access to the many airfields there. In
Pakistan next door, the US used a military airfield at Peshawar, in the
Northwest Frontier province, as a base for U-2 intelligence flights over
the Soviet Union for three years until Francis Gary Powers got shot down
in 1960.

Although AirSea Battle has China in mind, American political leaders
have publicly maintained that the US is not seeking to contain China.

An American aviator, however, pointed to a map marking air bases from
Osan in South Korea, to Korat in Thailand, to Peshawar in Pakistan, and
asked: "It does sort of look like a picket line, doesn’t it?"

Who Controls AirSea Battle?

A key player in executing AirSea Battle would be Adm. Robert F. Willard,
who leads US Pacific Command from his headquarters in Honolulu. After
taking command last fall, Willard set up five focus group to examine
PACOM’s strategy toward China, India, and North Korea, treaty partners
and friends from Japan to Singapore, and transnational issues such as
terror, piracy, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.

"This is what combatant commanders across the globe should be attending
to," Willard said in an interview. Most American military leaders are
comfortable with day-to-day operations, he said, but needed "more of a
focus on alignment with our national strategies and policies and more of
a focus on understanding the strategies and policies of our regional

Elaborating later, Willard seemed cautious about how AirSea Battle would
fit into his vision for PACOM. He said he had been briefed on the
concept, and "I expressed some issues with what I heard, especially with
regard to their ability to adapt whatever their concept derives to the
ground forces." Willard contended that "the AirSea Battle construct will
unquestionably need to integrate with what our Marine forces bring to
the game," and because the battlespace "includes the littorals, what the
Army brings to the game is important, too. So there is a great deal of
work yet to do to see if this concept really reveals something that will
be useful."

Willard, a naval aviator (as is the Pacific Fleet commander, Adm.
Patrick M. Walsh), was asked who controls AirSea Battle. "It’s
presumptive to get into the command relations debate now when the
concept is in fledgling development," he said.

"I need to see where and how it’s intended to be adapted, and then we
can talk about the command relations," he added.

Richard Halloran, formerly a New York Times foreign correspondent in
Asia and military correspondent in Washington, D.C., is a freelance
writer based in Honolulu. His most recent article for

Air Force Magazine, "China Turns Up the Heat," appeared in the April issue.

(11) Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies at Aspen Security Forum - Max

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <pdeburgh@harboursat.com.au> Date: Sat, 27 Jul
2013 16:10:48 +1000


Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies by the People Running America's
Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit

Security Forum participants expressed total confidence in American
empire, but could not contain their panic at the mention of Snowden.

Max Blumenthal

July 25, 2013

Seated on a stool before an audience packed with spooks, lawmakers,
lawyers and mercenaries, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced recently retired
CENTCOM chief General James Mattis. “I’ve worked with him and I’ve
worked with his predecessors,” Blitzer said of Mattis. “I know how hard
it is to run an operation like this.”

Reminding the crowd that CENTCOM is “really, really important,” Blitzer
urged them to celebrate Mattis: “Let’s give the general a round of

Following the gales of cheering that resounded from the room, Mattis,
the gruff 40-year Marine veteran who once volunteered his opinion that
“it’s fun to shoot some people,” outlined the challenge ahead. The “war
on terror” that began on 9/11 has no discernable end, he said, likening
it to the “the constant skirmishing between [the US cavalry] and the
Indians” during the genocidal Indian Wars of the 19th century.

“The skirmishing will go on likely for a generation,” Mattis declared.

Mattis’ remarks, made beside a cable news personality who acted more
like a sidekick than a journalist, set the tone for the entire 2013
Aspen Security Forum this July. A project of the Aspen Institute, the
Security Forum brought together the key figures behind America’s vast
national security state, from military chieftains like Mattis to
embattled National Security Agency Chief General Keith Alexander to top
FBI and CIA officials, along with the bookish functionaries attempting
to establish legal groundwork for expanding the war on terror.

Partisan lines and ideological disagreements faded away inside the
darkened conference hall, as a parade of American securitocrats from
administrations both past and present appeared on stage to defend
endless global warfare and total information awareness while uniting in
a single voice of condemnation against a single whistleblower bunkered
inside the waiting room of Moscow International Airport: Edward Snowden.

With perhaps one notable exception, none of the high-flying reporters
junketed to Aspen to act as interlocutors seemed terribly interested in
interrogating the logic of the war on terror. The spectacle was a
perfect window into the world of access journalism, with media
professionals brown-nosing national security elites committed to secrecy
and surveillance, avoiding overly adversarial questions but making sure
to ask the requisite question about how much Snowden has caused
terrorists to change their behavior.

Jeff Harris, the communications director for the Aspen Institute, did
not respond to questions I submitted about whether the journalists who
participated in the Security Forum accepted fees. (It is likely that all
relied on Aspen to at least cover lodging and travel costs). CNN
sponsored the forum through a special new website called CNN Security
Clearance, promoting the event through Twitter and specially
commissioned op-eds from participating national security figures like
former CIA director John McLaughlin.

Another forum sponsor was Academi, the private mercenary corporation
formerly known as Blackwater. In fact, Academi is Blackwater’s third
incarnation (it was first renamed “Xe”) since revelations of widespread
human rights abuses and possible war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan
threw the mercenary firm into full damage control mode. The Aspen
Institute did not respond to my questions about whether accepting
sponsorship from such an unsavory entity fit within its ethical guidelines.

'Exterminating People'

John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General who prosecuted the war on
terror under the administration of George W. Bush, appeared at Aspen as
a board member of Academi. Responding to a question about U.S.
over-reliance on the “kinetic” approach of drone strikes and special
forces, Ashcroft reminded the audience that the U.S. also likes to
torture terror suspects, not just “exterminate” them.

“It's not true that we have relied solely on the kinetic option,”
Ashcroft insisted. “We wouldn't have so many detainees if we'd relied on
the ability to exterminate people…We've had a blended and nuanced
approach and for the guy who's on the other end of a Hellfire missile he
doesn't see that as a nuance.”

Hearty laughs erupted from the crowd and fellow panelists. With a broad
smile on her face, moderator Catherine Herridge of Fox News joked to
Ashcroft, “You have a way with words.”

But Ashcroft was not done. He proceeded to boast about the pain
inflicted on detainees during long CIA torture sessions: “And maybe
there are people who wish they were on the end of one of those missiles.”

Competing with Ashcroft for the High Authoritarian prize was former NSA
chief Michael Hayden, who emphasized the importance of Obama’s drone
assassinations, at least in countries the U.S. has deemed to be Al Qaeda
havens. “Here's the strategic question,” Hayden said. “People in
Pakistan? I think that's very clear. Kill 'em. People in Yemen? The
same. Kill 'em.”

“We don’t smoke [drug] cartel leaders but personally I’d support it,”
remarked Philip Mudd, the former deputy director of Bush’s
Counterterrorism Center, earning more guffaws from his fellow panelists
and from Herridge. Ironically, Mudd was attempting to argue that
counter-terror should no longer be a top U.S. security priority because
it poses less of a threat to Americans than synthetic drugs and child

Reflection was not on the agenda for most of the Security Forum’s
participants. When asked by a former US ambassador to Denmark the
seminal question “This is a great country, why are we always the bad
guy?,” Mudd replied, “They think that anything the U.S. does [in the
Middle East], even though we helped Muslim communities in Bosnia and
Kuwait, everything is rewritten to make us the bad guys.”

The clamoring about U.S. invasions, drone strikes, bankrolling of
Israel’s occupation, and general political meddling, could all be
written off as fevered anti-Americanism borne from the desert canyons of
the paranoid Arab mind.

And the wars could go on.

Delusions of Empire

Throughout the three days of the Security Forum, the almost uniformly
white cast of speakers were called on to discuss recent geopolitical
developments, from "Eye-rak" and "Eye-ran" to Egypt, where a military
coup had just toppled the first elected government in the country’s history.

Mattis carefully toed the line of the Obama administration, describing
the overthrow of Egypt’s government not as a coup, but as “military
muscle saddled on top of this popular uprising.”

Warning that using terms like “coup” could lead to a reduction in U.S.
aid to Egypt, where the military controls about one-third of the
country’s economy, Mattis warned, “We have to be very careful about
passing laws with certain words when the reality of the world won’t
allow you to.”

Wolf Blitzer mentioned that Egypt’s new military-imposed foreign
minister, Nabil Fahmy, had been a fixture in Washington during the
Mubarak days. “These are people the West knows, the U.S. knows,” he said
of the new cabinet in Cairo. “I assume from the U.S. perspective, the
United States is so much more happy with this.”

Later, one of the few Arab participants in the forum, Al Jazeera DC
bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, claimed that the Arab revolts were
inspired by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “The iconic image of Saddam being
pulled out of a hole did something to the dynamic between ruler and
ruled in the Arab world,” Foukara claimed.

With the revolts blurring the old boundaries imposed on the Arab world
during the late colonial era, former CIA director John McLaughlin rose
from the audience to call for the U.S. to form a secret,
Sikes-Picot-style commission to draw up a new set of borders.

“The American government should now have such a group asking how we
should manage those lines and what should those lines be,” McLaughlin
told the panelists, who dismissed the idea of a new Great Game even as
they discussed tactics for preserving U.S. dominance in the Middle East.

ABC’s Chris Isham asked Jim Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq,
why, with a recession on its hands and Middle Eastern societies
spiraling out of control, should the U.S. remain militarily involved in
the region. Without hesitation, Jeffrey rattled off the reasons: Saudi
Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and “world oil markets.”

“What could we have done better?” Isham asked the ambassador.

“Probably not too much.”

NSA Heroes, Saving Lives of Potential Consumers

While participants in the Security Forum expressed total confidence in
American empire, they could not contain their panic, outrage, and fear
at the mere mention of Snowden.

“Make no mistake about it: These are great people who we’re slamming and
tarnishing and it’s wrong. They’re the heroes, not this other and these
leakers!” NSA chief General Keith Alexander proclaimed, earning raucous
applause from the crowd.

Snowden’s leaks had prompted a rare public appearance from Alexander,
forcing the normally imperious spy chief into the spotlight to defend
his agency’s Panopticon-style programs and its dubious mechanisms of
legal review. Fortunately for him, NBC’s Pete Williams offered him the
opportunity to lash out at Snowden and the media that reported the
leaks, asking whether the "terrorists” (who presumably already knew they
were being spied on) had changed their behavior as a result of the leaks.

“We have concrete proof that terrorists are taking action, making
changes, and it’s gonna make our job harder,” Alexander declared,
offering nothing to support his claim.

Alexander appeared in full military regalia, with colorful decorations
and medallions covering his left breast. Casting himself as a stern but
caring father who has the best interests of all Americans at heart, even
if he can't fully disclose his methods, he turned to the crowd and
explained, “The bad guys…hide amongst us to kill our people. Our job is
to stop them without impacting your civil liberties and privacy and
these programs are set up to do that.”

“The reason we use secrecy is not to hide it from the American people,
but to hide it from the people who walk among you and are trying to kill
you,” Alexander insisted.

Corporations like AT&T, Google and Microsoft that had been compelled to
hand over customer data to the NSA “know that we’re saving lives,” the
general claimed. With a straight face, he continued, “And that’s good
for business because there’s more people out there who can buy their


So who were the "bad guys” who “walk among us,” and how could Americans
be sure they had not been ensnared by the NSA’s all-encompassing spying
regime, either inadvertently or intentionally? Nearly all the Security
Forum participants involved in domestic surveillance responded to this
question by insisting that the NSA had the world’s most rigorous program
of oversight, pointing to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) courts as the best and only means of ensuring
that “mistakes” are corrected.

“We have more oversight on this [PRISM] program than any other program
in any government that I’m aware of,” Alexander proclaimed, ramming home
a talking point repeated throughout the forum.

“I can assure these are some of the judges who are renowned for holding
the government to a very high standard,” John Carlin, the Assistant US
Attorney General for National Security, stated.

But in the last year, FISA courts received 1,856 applications for
surveillance from the government. In 100 percent of cases, they were
approved. As for Congress, only two senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall,
demanded the NSA explain why PRISM was necessary or questioned its
legality. Despite the fact that the entire regime of oversight was a
rubber stamp, or perhaps because of it, none of those who appeared at
the Security Forum to defend it were willing to consider any forum of
independent civilian review.

“You have to do [domestic surveillance] within a closed bubble in order
to do it effectively,” Dennis Blair, the director of National
Intelligence conceded under sustained grilling from the Washington
Post’s Barton Gellman, one of the reporters who broke Snowden’s leaks
and perhaps the only journalist at the Security Forum who subjected
participants to tough scrutiny.

When Gellman reminded Alexander that none of the oversight mechanisms
currently in place could determine if the NSA had improperly targeted
American citizens with no involvement in terror-related activity, the
general declared, “we self-report those mistakes.”

“It can't be, let's just stop doing it, cause we know, that doesn't
work,” Alexander maintained. “We've got to have some program like [PRISM].”

The wars would go on, and so would the spying.

Reinstituting Public Confidence

During a panel on inter-agency coordination of counter-terror efforts,
Mike Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center
(NCC), suggested that one of the best means of preserving America’s vast
and constantly expanding spying apparatus was “by reinstituting faith
among the public in our oversight.”

Even as current NCC director Matthew Olsen conceded, “There really are
limits in how transparent we can be,” Leiter demanded that the
government “give the public confidence that there’s oversight.

Since leaving the NCC, Leiter has become the senior counsel of Palantir
Technologies, a private security contractor that conducts espionage on
behalf of the FBI, CIA, financial institutions, the LAPD and the NYPD,
among others. In 2011, Palantir spearheaded a dirty tricks campaign
against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including journalists,
compiling electronic dossiers intended to smear them. Palantir’s target
list included progressive groups like Think Progress, SEIU and U.S.
Chamber Watch.

In the friendly confines of the Aspen Institute’s Security Forum, Leiter
did his best to burnish his company’s tarnished image, and do some
damage control on behalf of the national security apparatus it depends
on for contracts. Like most other participants, Leiter appeared in smart
casual dress, with an open collar, loafers, a loose-fitting jacket and

“Just seeing us here,” he said, “that inspires [public] confidence,
because we’re not a bunch of ogres.”

Max Blumenthal is the author of Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books,
2009). Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

No comments:

Post a Comment