Monday, March 08, 2021

Western Way of War: Two Problems and Six Solutions

To start your week off right you should give our friend James Holmes's latest over at Real Clear Defense  a read, How to Overcome Weaknesses in the Western Way of Sea War.

He starts by setting up two distinguishing characteristics of how we prefer to start a war;

Chinese anti-access strategy envisions pummeling U.S. forces forward-deployed along the East Asian rimland while preventing the larger U.S. Pacific Fleet from reaching the battleground from its home ports in Hawaii or on the west coast in time to affect a war’s outcome.


The second aspect is this: Western maritime services fight in “systems” that depend heavily on the electromagnetic spectrum to pass information and instructions to the constituent parts of the system and back. 

He then offers up six solutions, these two got my head nodd'n the most;

 Second, we need to make geography our ally. The complex thing about maritime East Asia is that not just one home team but two—China and Japan—have taken the field. In fact, they have carried on a running series since about the seventh century. Japan has been on top since 1895, China wants to avenge past defeats, and the U.S.-Japan alliance wants to keep the streak going. Using Japanese geography in concert with sea power could let us give China a very bad day by bottling up naval and mercantile shipping within the first island chain, or preventing whatever happens to be outside the island chain from returning home. Sorting out the politics of island-chain warfare is of prime importance in the strategic competition, as is assuring our navies and air and ground forces can fight together in the near-shore domain. If successful we will make the U.S.-Japan alliance the dominant home team along the island chain.


Fifth, we should identify substitute hardware and methods in advance so that operators have a fallback in case a successful kinetic or non-kinetic assault fractures the system. This might, but need not, involve developing some sort of high-technology solution. It might involve reverting to older but time-proven methods. We might even see signal flags or flashing-light signals make a comeback in fleets riding the waves. To name one such reversion to past practice, the U.S. Navy has made a long-overdue course correction in recent years by reinstating celestial-navigation training at navy schoolhouses. By relearning how to navigate by the stars, we partly weaned our ships away from GPS, any savvy opponent’s prime target in wartime. Furthermore, newly developed weapons are designed to function in a degraded tactical setting. The logic behind such measures is straightforward. If we can’t find our way from point A to point B or detect, track, target, and engage enemy forces, we can accomplish little—even if the foe never shoots down one of our planes or sinks a ship. So developments such as these are all to the good.

There is a lot more to ponder ... so read up. It's only four pages, and well worth your time.

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