The U.S. Pivot and China Relations
Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., is chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee and founder and co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus. He has written extensively on U.S. defense policy, China’s military build-up, Asia-Pacific security and military concerns, as well as America’s new Air/Sea battle concept. We are delighted to have him as the evening’s featured speaker.
“Throughout the last six decades, America’s military strength has helped preserve a relatively stable geo-strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific. However, in the past decade China has rapidly modernized its military, including another double digit military increase next year, with aspirations of supplanting the U.S. position. If present trends continue, the regional balance of power could tilt in Beijing’s favor as it is increasingly able to deter U.S. forces from entering the region, coerce neighboring states, or – should conflict ensue – win a rapid victory. In response, the United States must work to simultaneously sustain a level of credible deterrence in the region while reassuring allies, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and strategic partners like Singapore. Air-Sea Battle is now at the center of this effort. “In short, the Air-Sea Battle Office aims to define initiatives to develop the capabilities and integration necessary to help Combatant Commanders conduct integrated, cross-domain operations in A2/AD environments. According to Schwartz and Greenert, Air-Sea Battle seeks to use “Networked, Integrated Attack-in-Depth” to “disrupt, destroy, and defeat” (NIA-D3) adversary capabilities. More specifically, the joint force (integrated air, ground, and naval forces) armed with resilient communications (networked) aims to strike at multiple nodes of an enemy’s system (attack-in-depth) along three lines of effort. If we can consider these lines in terms of an enemy archer, one could choose to blind the archer (disrupt), kill the archer (destroy), or stop his arrow (defeat). Balanced capabilities geared towards executing all three will be required.”
James R. Holmes is a defense analyst for The Diplomat and an associate professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College where he specializes in U.S., Chinese and Indian maritime strategy and U.S. diplomatic and military history. He is co-author of Red Star over the Pacific, an Atlantic Monthly Best Foreign Affairs Book for 2010 and a former U.S. Navy surface warfare officer.
“One thing to watch as we track the evolution of U.S. strategy in Asia is how the Obama administration ‘refreshes,’ or revises, the Maritime Strategy inherited from its predecessor. The sea services are revisiting the strategy as we speak. The term ‘refresh’ implies a shift of emphasis more than wholesale change. We’ll have to wait and see what that entails. “The other thing to monitor is the United States’ effort to assume a more central position in maritime Asia. Australia makes a logical staging point at the “seam” between the Pacific and Indian Ocean theaters. From this position midway through the region, maritime forces can swing from side to side as needed. And they can do so while remaining out of contested expanses like the Yellow, East China, and South China seas, which increasingly fall under the shadow of long-range Chinese weaponry. “I’m delighted that our administration and the Australian government have agreed to station U.S. Marines in Darwin, along the northern coast of Australia, and to operate American drones from the Cocos Islands. But much more needs to be done to establish a hub for seagoing U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region. I would like to see carrier strike groups and surface action groups operate from this close American ally. Whether that happens ... I guess we’ll see.”
Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is an Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College and a core founding member of the department’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). He is an Associate in Research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies (2008-).
“China is already a world-class military power – but not in the ways that many have charged. Beijing’s ‘blue water’ naval expansion beyond the Second Island Chain, which is not proceeding at the highest level, does not pose a serious problem for Washington. Indeed, as a growing great power, it is only natural for China to develop an increasing presence in this realm, and in many respects it should be welcomed. “The U.S. has and will continue to have many viable options to address any problems that might emerge in this area, at least with respect to a high intensity kinetic conflict. For instance, Chinese forces themselves are highly vulnerable to precisely the same types of ‘asymmetric’ approaches (e.g., missile attacks) that they can employ to great effect closer to China’s shores. In fact, there is substantial room for cooperation beyond the Near Seas. “This potential may even be said to be growing, as China’s overseas interests and capabilities increase, thereby allowing it to contribute in unprecedented ways. In this area, which covers the vast majority of the globe, Beijing appears to be cautiously open to Washington’s ideas about ‘defense of the global system’ – which offer excellent opportunities for ‘free riding’ off U.S.-led public goods provision.”
William C. Martel, a professor of international security at Tufts University, is willing to tackle big questions and big issues. Since the late 1990s, he has been focusing his research on the meaning of victory in war – a topic which, until his involvement, had not been properly and widely addressed or debated.
“The U.S. faces many serious foreign policy challenges, from how to handle the Arab Spring, and specifically developments in Libya, Egypt and Syria, to the nuclear issues of Iran and North Korea, to China’s rise. “But the United States now needs a grand strategy to guide its shift to Asia. Containment ended with the Cold War, and despite the talk of ‘containing’ China it’s hard to know exactly what that could mean – how do you contain a country that’s so critical and integrated to the region and the world economically, militarily and politically? “If the U.S. wants an effective grand strategy, then it would do well to keep in mind three key principles. For a start, it must clearly identify the threats, risks and dangers that the United States faces. Second, the United States must ensure it exercises self-restraint – it can’t do everything, everywhere for everyone. Third, co-operation is key – the United States must work with others to implement any grand strategy.”
Toshi Yoshihara holds the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies and is an affiliate member of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College. Previously, he was a visiting professor in the Strategy Department at the Air War College. Dr. Yoshihara has also served as an analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, RAND, and the American Enterprise Institute.
“I believe that Chinese views of the first island chain suggest that Chinese naval activism will not likely be a temporary phenomenon, but will be a permanent feature of Asian politics in the years to come. Maritime Asia is going to be a busy theater as China fulfills what it believes is its rightful maritime prerogatives. “This is clearly having an interactive effect on the occupants of the first island chain, particularly Japan. Tokyo is already considering countermeasures to monitor and possibly keep Chinese forces bottled up behind the island chain (or what it calls a ‘sea wall’) in major wartime contingencies. “But access cuts both ways. China faces its own kind of “tyranny of geography.” While the United States faces the tyranny of distance in the Western Pacific, China confronts proximity to chokepoints along its maritime frontier. The imperative to control events across the near seas is thus urgent. “The island chain is not a conspiracy theory. China’s access problem is real. Beijing has good reason to worry. This dilemma also suggests that China possesses acute insecurities and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by the United States and its allies.”