Mon, Nov 14, 2011 - Page 3 News List

New US defense body could focus on Chinese threat

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

The US Department of Defense last week announced the creation of a tri-service Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO) that, according to defense analysts, is directed mostly at the Western Pacific and its principal actor, China.

The new office, which was created on Aug. 12, but whose existence was only confirmed in a press release on Wednesday, integrates the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and will develop a “comprehensive concept to counter emerging anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) challenges.”

One Pentagon official has described the office as a “highly classified clearinghouse set up to consider a wide range of current and potential threats.”

The ASB concept will guide the services to ensure continued US advantage against the global proliferation of advanced military technology and A2/AD capabilities, Marine Corps News reported on Friday.

The tri--service collaboration will “leverage military and technological capabilities that reflect unprecedented Navy, Marine and Air Force collaboration, cooperation, integration and resource investments,” it said.

Each service will dedicate a minimum of two field-grade officers or equivalents in the civil service to the new office. Initially, the small group will involve a core group of 12 to 15 officers.

According to several reports, the US Army will eventually be integrated into a larger ASB concept.

Emerging A2/AD threats include conventional ballistic missiles, long-range precision cruise missiles, advanced integrated air and missile defense systems, electronic and cyberwarfare capabilities, submarines, surface combat vessels and modern combat aircraft.

Although Pentagon officials deflected several questions by reporters at a background briefing on whether the office would target China and said it was not directed at a specific actor, it is largely understood the ASBO will regard it as its principal contingency.

In recent years, the People’s Liberation Army has invested heavily in acquiring and developing A2/AD technologies, including the development of the Dong-Feng 21D land-based anti-ship ballistic missile.

A2/AD would be a critical component of China’s strategy in any attempt to take Taiwan by military force, using those capabilities to delay or prevent US entry into the conflict on Taiwan’s side.

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