BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
The Pentagon is developing a war strategy it calls AirSea Battle aimed at countering the emerging threat from China to the U.S. rulers’ military dominance in the Pacific—a dominance that had gone unchallenged since it was conquered by the imperialists’ bloody victory in World War II.
The AirSea Battle concept seeks to combine the U.S. Air Force and Navy in coordinated military operations in the Western Pacific involving potential air and missile strikes on China, noted the Wall Street Journal. The AirSea Battle office was created in August, the Defense Department told the media.
“AirSea Battle could be excessively provocative,” noted the Journal, as “the plan is the next step in a cycle of military escalation… . The Pentagon has delayed implementing and discussing AirSea Battle several times, partly because of concerns over the Chinese reaction.”
The Pentagon’s announcement came shortly before President Barack Obama’s trip to Australia where a recently signed military pact with the government there increases the presence of U.S. Marines and military vessels and aircraft on bases in the country’s north and west, a strategic location in proximity to vital Asian Pacific trade routes.
The move takes place as Washington is stepping up its military activity and working to forge new alliances against China by exploiting disputed claims in the South China Sea between Beijing and Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and others.
The Chinese military has made substantial technological advances in a relatively short period of time, which includes the development of a new generation of stealth jet fighters, an aircraft carrier, and the world’s first land-based antiship ballistic missile able to change course to hit a moving aircraft carrier.
The Pentagon sees these developments of what it terms “anti-access/area-denial capabilities” as “threatening to make U.S. power projection increasingly risky,” according to a 2010 report issued by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Pentagon think tank in Washington.
At the Pacific Forum held in March 2011 in Honolulu, Gaoyue Fan, a senior colonel in China’s People’s Liberation Army, described AirSea Battle as a significant change “of battlefield from the Middle East and Central Asia to the western Pacific Ocean,” and a shift “from destroying international terrorist networks to defeating the PLA.”
“China’s strategy is defensive,” he stated. “The PLA will never target the U.S. military except if it intervenes in a Taiwan conflict or launches a preemptive strike against China.” Fan added, if the U.S. would halt its defense of Taiwan, “we would cease development of [anti-access] capabilities and other difficult issues could be solved.”
In late 2009, then Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to develop an AirSea Battle plan. This was a departure from the AirLand Battle Doctrine in place during most of the post-World War II period.
In March 2010, Adm. Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, expounded on the new approach in a statement before the House Armed Services Committee. He termed “China’s military modernization” a “challenge” to Washington’s “freedom of action in the region.”
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments report provides some details about the AirSea Battle strategy. It could include space operations by the U.S. Air Force “to blind PLA space-based ocean surveillance systems,” and long-range Air Force strikes to destroy the Chinese military’s “maritime surveillance systems and long-range ballistic missile launchers.”
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