Strategic Developments In The Western Pacific: Anti-Access/Area Denial And The Airsea Battle Concept

Kyle D. Christensen


This article offers an initial review and assessment of the US 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review’s direction to the US Air Force and Navy to develop an AirSea Battle concept for defeating adversaries equipped with sophisticated anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. The article contends that the development of these A2/AD systems, particularly by China in the Western Pacific, could become an operational challenge to the freedom of action of military forces in the region. This will require being able to maintain, and if necessary, re-establish freedom of action in the Western Pacific.

The article begins by assessing the strategic context of China’s A2/AD strategy. It then goes on to describe in greater detail the AirSea Battle concept as a response to A2/AD strategies. Finally, it assesses the AirSea Battle concept’s utility from a coalition perspective. The article highlights a requirement for increased anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, research on underwater superiority, and the creation of a Centre for Advanced Underwater Warfare Excellence (CAUWWE).

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.