UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


US Military Power 2012

July, 2013

Report on U.S. Military Power 2012
China Strategic Culture Promotion Association

Chapter Four - New Development in Operational Doctrines

In 2012, the U.S. military keeps on developing and enriching operational theories. Apart from furthering studies on existing concepts such as the Air-Sea Battle, DoD released new operational concepts and doctrines by publishing new documents such as "Joint Operational Access Concept: Gaining and Maintaining Access", "Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020", "Counter-IED Operations, Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations", and "U.S. Army Social Media Handbook".

I. New Developments in the Air-Sea Battle Concept

On January 17th, 2012, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment published "Outside-In: Operating from Range to Defeat Iran's Anti-Access and Area-Denial Threats". According to the report, Iran poses a unique A2/AD threat to the U.S.. The U.S. Armed Forces would pay a high cost if they responded to the threat with the present posture. They should give up the Cold-War approach of force projection from nearby bases; instead, they should conduct long-distance operations to deal with Iran's threats.

On February 20th, General Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations. co-authored an article entitled "Air-Sea Battle: Promoting Stability in an Era of Uncertainty" in The American Interest , the first time when high-ranking U.S. officers expressed their opinions on the concept. The article states that the Air-Sea Battle is "networked, integrated attack-in-depth" and is used to pursue three lines of effort to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary A2/AD capabilities.

On April 19th, 2012, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment published a report entitled "Changing the Game: the Promise of Directed-Energy Weapons", calling DoD to change the current budget priorities in order to step up the R&D of directed-energy weapons, improve combat effectiveness of new operational concepts such as "Air-Sea Battle", promote service integration, and facilitate the shift from a resource-intensive development approach to a technology-intensive one. The report argued that only by a change of current budget priorities could the U.S fend off A2/AD threats and maintain the generation gap between the U.S. and other countries in terms of military technologies.

In addition, think tanks such as RAND, CSIS, Institute for Defense Analyses, and Center for Naval Analyses, and scholars such as Mark Schantz, Philip Davidson, and Randy Forbes are also actively engaged in furthering the concept of "Air-Sea Battle".

II. Development of the "Joint Operational Access Concept"

On January 17th, 2012, DoD released "Joint Operational Access Concept". This is the first official document going public with a complete analysis on how to achieve operational access in the face of armed opposition from a variety of potential enemies. The document is composed of 12 parts, including introduction, purpose, scope, the nature of operational access, operational access in the future operating environment, the military problem: opposed operational access in an advanced antiaccess/area-denial environment, operational access precepts, capabilities required by this concept, etc. The main contents of the document are as follows:

1. Clarification of Key Terms

According to the "Joint Operational Access Concept", "operational access" refers to "the ability to project military force into an operational area with sufficient freedom of action to accomplish the mission. As war is the extension of politics by other means, operational access does not exist for its own sake, but rather serves broader [U.S.] strategic goals,whether to ensure strategic access to commerce, demonstrate U.S. resolve by positioning forces overseas to manage crisis and prevent war, or defeat an enemy in war. Operational access is the joint force contribution to assured access, the unhindered national use of the global commons and select sovereign territory, waters, airspace and cyberspace. The global commons, in turn, are areas of air, sea, space, and cyberspace that belong to no one state. While operational access is achieved through the projection of military force, assured access is achieved by projecting all the elements of national power."

Antiaccess refers to those capabilities, usually long-range, designed to prevent an advancing enemy from entering an operational area, including medium-and-long-range missiles, long-range reconnaissance and surveillance systems, kinetic and nonkinetic antisatellite weapons, submarine forces and cyber attack capabilities, terrorists, and special operations forces. Antiaccess actions not only tend to target forces approaching by air and sea predominantly, but also can target the cyber, space, and other forces that support them.

Area-denial refers to those actions and capabilities, usually of shorter range, designed not to keep an opposing force out, but to limit its freedom of action within the operational area, including air forces and air defense systems, shorter-range antiship missiles and submarines, precision-guided rockets, artillery, missiles, mortars, chemical and biological weapons,computer and electronic attack capabilities, land and naval mines, armed and explosives-laden small boats and craft, land maneuver forces, special operations forces, and unmanned systems such as unmanned underwater vehicles. Area-denial capabilities target forces in all domains, including land forces. The distinction between antiaccess and area-denial is elative rather than strict, and many capabilities can be employed for both purposes. For example, the same submarine that performs an area-denial mission in coastal waters can be an antiaccess capability when employed on distant patrols.

2. A2/AD as the gravest challenge to the U.S.

According to the "Joint Operational Access Concept", the future operating environment will be characterized by complexity, uncertainty, and rapid change, posing three challenges to the U.S. operational access: a. improvement and proliferation of weapons systems and other technologies capable of denying access or restricting freedom of movement; b. changing U.S. overseas defense posture; and c. emergence of space and cyberspace as contested domains. Future enemies, both state and nonstate actors, will take A2/AD strategies against the United States. Rivals equipped with cross-domain, multi-layered, and highly-integrated A2/AD defense systems are likely to try to deny U.S. operational access, while those who are not as capable might try to inflict what they think as unbearable political losses on the United States. Therefore, potential enemies' A2/AD capabilities might be the gravest challenge to the United States for the coming several decades.

3. Cross-Domain Synergy as the Thesis of Joint Operational Access Concept

Attaining cross-domain synergy requires effective application of the capabilities across the five domains, namely, land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Cross-domain synergy is "the complementary vice merely additive employment of capabilities in different domains such that each enhances the effectiveness and compensates for the vulnerabilities of the others." DoD believes that as the scope of war is extending, no single service possesses the means and capabilities to effectively attack the enemy. Only by way of mutual support and close coordination can the U.S. Armed Forces defeat the enemy even when the enemy manages to avoid damage by any one U.S. armed service. In light of this understanding, DoD will focus on resolving the following three issues to enhance integrated joint operational capabilities. First,greater integration of operational capabilities is needed. DoD emphasizes developing service capabilities to support one another, making sure that each service is able to support other services. Second, integration at tactical level is emphasized. Joint operations should not be limited to the operational level among service components; instead, they should be extended to lower levels. When necessary, different services could be organized tactically into tailored joint formations for specific threats. Third, construction of information networks is critical. It is necessary to step up the construction of information infrastructure, focusing on compatibility of information networks of different services, so that information can be shared and real-time command can be achieved. Cross-domain synergy is realized, therefore, by enhanced joint operations.

4. Basic Principles of Joint Operational Access Concept

To deal with A2/AD threats and ensure access into operational areas, Joint Operational Access Concept describes the following 11 guiding principles: a. conduct operations to gain access based on the requirements of the broader mission, while planning subsequent operations to lessen access challenges; b. prepare the operational area in advance to facilitate access; c. consider a variety of basing options; d. seize the initiative by deploying and operating on multiple, independent lines of operations; e. exploit advantages in one or more domains to disrupt enemy A2/AD capabilities in others; f. disrupt enemy reconnaissance and surveillance efforts while protecting friendly efforts; g. create pockets or corridors of local domain superiority to penetrate the enemy's defenses and maintain them as required to accomplish the mission; h. maneuver directly against key operational objectives from strategic distance; i. attack enemy A2/AD defenses in depth rather than rolling back those defenses from the perimeter; j. maximize surprise through deception, stealth, and ambiguity to complicate enemy targeting; k. protect space and cyber assets while attacking the enemy's space and cyber capabilities.

5. Development of Eight Categories of 30 Capabilities Required by Joint Operational Access

To tackle A2/AD threats, DoD calls on the development of 30 capabilities classified into eight categories, namely, command and control, including the following five capabilities: reliable connectivity and interoperability among major warfighting headquarters, effective command and control in a degraded communications environment, the ability to integrate cross-domain operations, situational awareness across the domains, and task-based command; intelligence, including the following three capabilities: to detect and respond to hostile computer network attack, to conduct timely and accurate cross-domain all-source intelligence fusion, and the ability to develop all categories of intelligence in any necessary domain; fires, including the following four capabilities: to locate, target, and suppress or neutralize hostile A2/AD capabilities while limiting collateral damage, to deter, disrupt or destroy enemy systems, to conduct electronic attack and computer network attack, and to interdict enemy forces and materiel; movement and maneuver, including the following five capabilities: to conduct operational maneuver along multiple axes of advance, to gain entry into hostile digital networks, to conduct en route rehearsal and assembly of deploying forces, to conduct forcible entry operations, and to mask the approach of joint maneuver elements; protection, including the following six capabilities: to defeat enemy targeting systems, to provide missile defense, to protect and reconstitute bases and other infrastructure, to protect forces and supplies, to protect friendly space forces, and to conduct cyber defense; sustainment, including the following three capabilities: to deploy, employ, and sustain forces, to establish nonstandard support mechanisms, to manage and integrate contractors; information: the ability to inform and influence selected audiences; engagement, including the following three capabilities: to share capabilities to ensure access and advance long-term regional stability, to secure basing, navigation, and overflight rights, and to provide training, supplies, equipment, and other assistance to regional partners.

III. The Concept of Globally Integrated Operations and Its Requirements for joint forces

On September 10th, 2012, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) released the "Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020". It is composed of Introduction, Future Security Environment, The Concept, Select Implications For Joint Force 2020, Risks of Adopting This Concept, and Conclusion. The main ideas of the document are as follows:

1. Specifying Future Challenges Facing Joint Forces

As pointed out in the document, future security environment is characterized by proliferation of WMD, rise of modern competitive states, violent extremism, regional instability, transnational criminal activity, and competition for resources. Besides, the diffusion of advanced technology in the global economy means that middleweight militaries and non-state actors can now muster weaponry once available only to superpowers. The proliferation of cyber and space weapons, precision munitions, ballistic missiles, and A2/AD capabilities will grant more adversaries the ability to inflict devastating losses; adversaries continue to explore symmetric ways to employ both crude and advanced technology to exploit U.S. vulnerabilities; they will have more advanced capabilities in every domain, and meanwhile, more of them will have the ability to simultaneously conduct operations across multiple domains; space and cyber space will play a particularly important role in the future; diffusion of technology is transforming warfare and reshaping global politics; and digital technology is profoundly transforming command and control of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Taken together, these factors give rise to a future security environment that is more unpredictable, complex, and dangerous in which armed conflicts are inevitable. The major challenge facing the U.S. joint forces in the future, therefore, is to protect U.S. national interests from the threats of increasingly strong enemies in an uncertain, complicated, changing, and increasingly ransparent world with constrained resources.

2. Defining Key Elements of Globally Integrated Operations

Globally Integrated Operations is a concept prepared for the U.S. joint forces for future security environment, requiring globally postured joint forces to quickly combine capabilities with themselves and mission partners across domains, echelons, geographic boundaries, and organizational affiliations. The purpose of the concept is to create a decisive force. At its heart, the concept envisions the integration of emerging capabilities—particularly special operations forces, cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—with new ways of fighting and partnering. Together, this will achieve higher levels of military effectiveness against the threats the U.S. will most likely face. The concept contains eight key elements:

First, mission command. Mission command exploits the human element in joint operations, emphasizing trust, will power, intuitive judgment, and creativity. A new generation of digital communications and sensor technologies enables auto-command which in turn helps overcome obstacles posed by time and space and facilitates communications across echelons and with friends and neighboring forces; thus mission command can be free from subjectivity or lack of experience on the part of individual commanders.

Second, the ability to seize, retain and exploit the initiative. In cross-domain conflicts, it is important to maintain aggressiveness, forcing the enemy to be controlled by U.S. course of action and pace of operation while maintaining U.S. freedom of movement. Controlling the pace of operations is critical to maintaining military advantage; to that end, the U.S. Armed Forces must decide and direct faster than the enemy and control the timing and tempo of enemy operations.

Third, global agility. Being agile means swifter response than the enemy. The complexity of future security environment requires swift and adaptable military responses. To that end, globally integrated joint forces will use cyber and global strike to rapidly bring combat power to bear. Massed formation will gradually phase out, and in its place there will be smarter positioning of forces, greater use of prepositioned stocks and rapid expeditionary basing, and more nimble command-and-control cells.

Fourth, partnering. The complexity of future security environment requires more than the military instrument of national power. Joint force must be able to integrate effectively with U.S. governmental agencies, partner militaries, and indigenous and regional stakeholders. This integration must be flexible, ranging from a functional non-state actor to multinational operations.

Fifth, flexible formation of joint forces. Joint forces must be formed and employed according to specific security challenges. Mission-based joint forces will not replace geographically and functionally-based forces completely, as geography remains the logical basis for conducting theater cooperative security, while some missions, such as strategic deterrence, remains functionally distinct. Joint forces can better accomplish a given mission if hybrid command is arranged to provide greater flexibility.

Sixth, cross-domain synergy. It is the complementary vice merely additive employment of capabilities across domains. Cross-domain synergy provides the U.S. military with advantage in every domain, so that freedom of movement for a mission is achieved.

Seventh, employment of flexible and low-signature capabilities. They include cyberspace, space, special operations, global strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and are unique sources of U.S. military advantage. They will play significant roles in future joint operations.

Finally, tailored operations to minimize unintended consequences. Future operations will not consist solely of surgical operations; when necessary, military force can be applied overwhelmingly and broadly, but its effects must be limited as much as possible to the intended targets in order to maintain U.S. international credibility.

3. Predicting Its Implications for Force Development

According to the document, the concept of "Globally Integrated Operations" will exert significant influence on U.S. force development in terms of command and control, intelligence, fire power, movement and maneuver, protection, sustainment, and partnership strategies. The implications are as follows: a. use joint professional education to realize mission command in joint operations; b. develop portable, cloud-enabled command and control technologies for commanders and their staffs; c. enhance U.S. ability to operate effectively in a degraded environment; d. explore how the notion of mutually supporting command can help construct command relationships tailored to specific future threats; e. become pervasively interoperable both internally and externally; f. maintain and enhance the integration of general-purpose force and special operations force; g. develop analytic capabilities that correspond with the wider array of threats and contexts in which they will occur; h. improve capabilities that better fuse, analyze, and exploit large data sets; i. provide a fire support coordination capability that integrates all fires, including cyber; j. improve capabilities to defeat A2/AD threats; k. rapidly employable on a global scale; l. develop deep regional expertise; m. improve strategic and operational mobility; n. improve tactical maneuver; o. synchronize global distribution; p. standardize tactics, techniques and procedures across combatant commands to facilitate force rotation; q. improve cyber defense capabilities; r. continue to improve defensive space capabilities; s. integrate missile defense systems; t. continue to develop and implement the Joint Logistics Enterprise; u. reduce operational energy requirements and develop operationally viable alternative energy sources; v. identify those agencies with which Joint Forces will work most often and develop common coordinating procedures; w. field a mission-partner information environment to facilitate integration with various external partners.

4. Identifying Risks of Adopting the Concept

The document holds that the concept of Globally Integrated Operations is conducive to maintaining current and future U.S. military edge by helping commanders in not only outsmarting the enemy amid uncertainty, complexity, and volatility in future combats but also facilitating adjustments in the size of force based on requirements. Yet, there are also risks in adopting this concept: a. the communications required by this concept may be unavailable; b. partners may be unable or unwilling to integrate; c. the pursuit of advanced technology may prove unaffordable; d. an overemphasis on decentralization may lead to lack of coordination and inefficient use of scarce resources; e. the armed forces may fail to achieve the required level of global agility; f. standardization may lead to decreased diversity, flexibility, versatility, and ultimate effectiveness; g. elimination of redundancies may lead to operational brittleness and risk; h. emphasis on organizational flexibility may limit operational effectiveness.

These new developments in military theories are conducive to joint operations. First, they are promoting cross-domain jointness. On the basis of existing service jointness and military technology advantage, the U.S. Armed Forces are stepping up integration between traditional operational domains—land, sea, and air— and emerging operational domains such as space and cyberspace. As capabilities in both traditional and emerging operational domains complement one another, such integration will generate cross-domain synergy; as a result, success can be achieved at the lowest cost. Second, they are also enhancing cross-region jointness. With U.S. military advantage in strategic power projection, prompt global strike, and flexible deployment, forces deployed in the rear or at the front, in different theaters and various operational domains share operational information and battlefield situations, so that globally integrated operations can be achieved through improved rapid responses. Third, they emphasize cross-agency coordination and cooperation. DoD is fostering coordination and cooperation with other U.S. governmental agencies, NGOs, volunteer groups, and international organizations, for integrated employment of political, military, economic, diplomatic, and cultural instruments of national power, in order to improve combat effectiveness. Fourth, they give enough attention to tactical-level jointness. Joint operations were limited to strategic and operational levels due to weaponry, equipment, tactical, technological, and command and control restraints. With better information systems, networks and information sharing, and with improved command and control systems, battlefield and C2information flows rapidly across various echelons, thus extending joint operations from strategic and operational level to tactical level.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list