Second, what changes should be made to the analytical processes supporting force planning decisions? In identifying capabilities that merit the greatest emphasis, this article examines relevant strategy, scenarios, and assessments to identify insights regarding current and future operational needs.
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Although a future Presidential administration probably will create its own defense strategy documents, these enduring requirements and challenges will likely continue. The scale and sophistication of the PRC threat, coupled with an overall Comprehensive National Power capable of rivaling that of the United States, result in a near-peer threat that is rapidly adopting peer characteristics. The ability of the United States to counter Chinese aggression and project power is essential to its ability to advance its interests and sustain its partnerships.
There are valid reasons for developing unique capabilities necessary to counter grave threats not related to China.
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For example, ground maneuver forces likely require new capabilities to engage enemy forces at range and in mass with different types of fires. Furthermore, the continued growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other terrorist groups around the world threatens to endanger not only U.
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This threat is magnified by the potential of terrorists to be armed with weapons of mass destruction. Unique capabilities to counter these threats may need to be developed. Ultimately, however, the ability of the United States to deter and defeat PRC aggression serves as a bellwether for U.
By developing the ability to deter and defeat the pacing threat of the PRC, the United States will ensure that it not only has the fundamental capabilities necessary to defend its allies and advance its interests in the Asia-Pacific but that it also has many of the capabilities necessary to counter most other types of aggression worldwide. Consequently, to innovate and develop new capabilities, DOD should aggressively focus the majority of its attention and resources on those capabilities necessary to excel in relevant scenarios involving China.
While multiple planning scenarios with land, maritime, and air components involving China merit examination and may reveal distinct operational needs, the defense of Taiwan should be the lead planning scenario for DOD to identify operational needs.
Strategically, even if conflict in Taiwan never takes place, it is perceived as a potential major scenario involving the United States, and the perceived capability of the United States to deter and defeat aggression underpins U. Overall, the United States strategically requires a demonstrated ability to defend its allies and partners to support its security guarantees and advance its interests.
Additionally, in the defense of Taiwan, the United States has a crucial intersection of interests, objectives, and capabilities that result in a critical planning scenario. Additionally, the United States may receive little indication and warning of an impending Chinese attack, further complicating its ability to support the defense of Taiwan. In light of this challenging situation, prudence demands the United States employ it as a planning scenario. This is not to say a potential conflict with China would likely remain localized to the Western Pacific. On the contrary, it would likely involve overt and covert conflict across the globe, as well as in space and cyberspace, and DOD must plan accordingly.
However, if the United States can succeed in the defense of Taiwan scenario, it is likely to have many of the constituent elements and concepts necessary to win in other scenarios involving China—such as conflict in the South China Sea or East China Sea—or scenarios involving other countries.
This analysis uses a notional — defense of Taiwan scenario, which seeks to capture, at a general level, expectations regarding how forces might be employed. An overall concept of operations CONOPS for the defense of Taiwan might seek first to deter PRC aggression via deployment of forces in a resilient warfighting posture and the communication of the general costs of conflict. Specifically, disruption to peace and stability in the international order would lead to dislocation from it.
Then, if deterrence fails, U. Specifically, operational lines of effort may include disrupting, deceiving, and destroying PRC over-the-horizon OTH ISR capabilities; defeating a PRC amphibious invasion; constraining and eventually defeating a PRC naval fleet; defending allies and partners as possible, with a focus on protecting power projection nodes; dislocating the PRC from the international economy by interdicting trade and reorganizing trading structures; and resupplying Taiwan as possible.
At the same time, Taiwan would defend itself by preventing the landing of enough PLA combat power to sustain an invasion and by countering those troops that do arrive. To that end, Taiwan would be well served to pursue a strategy that increases the difficulty of conducting an invasion. One approach, described in a recent report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, would develop resilient sea and air denial capabilities, layered ground defenses, and counter—command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance C4ISR systems to prevent the landing of enough PLA combat power and reduce its effectiveness once on the ground.
Overall, the scenario would likely feature a U. However, more directly responsive operational alternatives must be examined. Their inclusion in a suite of response options for national leadership represents the minimum acceptable level of military planning, especially as they may be required to counter immediate, existential threats to allies or partners, such as that posed by an invasion. Assessments of the performance of the programmed joint force against advanced adversaries such as China or Russia reveal significant challenges as a confluence of three factors that would exacerbate existing deficiencies.
Third, China will likely continue to develop capabilities, posture, and forces more suited to global power projection, moving beyond most current estimates of regional hegemony.
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The defense of Taiwan scenario is highly challenging for U. Both traditional and alternative CONOPS that could be employed are relatively brittle and vulnerable to enemy disruption and deception. Additionally, U. Additionally, perceived U. Moreover, the geographical and environmental conditions of the Western Pacific, and the Taiwan Strait in particular, facilitate PLA defensive concepts and likely complicate the ability of the United States to employ certain assets, such as attack submarines, in particular concepts of employment.
The above process of examining strategy, scenarios, and assessments illustrates the enormous challenges facing DOD plans for the defense of Taiwan.
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The exercise, however, has also provided focused insights on operational needs in terms of military capabilities and novel concepts of operation. The following section identifies military capabilities that should receive top priority for new investment as the core capabilities the Third Offset Strategy.
The section aims for a finite set of concise statements of need for new capabilities to accomplish operational tasks. If employed with new concepts of operation, they have the potential to offset adversary advantages and increase the likelihood of U. In Chinese culture, the number eight is most auspicious.
Accordingly, this article has selected eight statements that reflect the most urgent needs of future commanders. Some of the capability statements will subsequently present associated inputs, that is, types of systems.
The following descriptions do not preclude a formal examination of options or analysis of alternatives for each capability statement, but rather reflect a preliminary assessment of promising alternatives, which may be useful as the Office of the Secretary of Defense OSD guides accelerated initiatives to address these urgent operational needs. In the defense of Taiwan scenario, U.
Given the importance of these and other targets, they are likely defended by advanced, robust IADS, which challenge U. This difficulty in striking targets on land increasingly applies to mobile targets at sea, as a combination of ship-borne and land-based defenses poses the same problem for naval strike missions. In response, DOD should consider developing two new unit classes. First, DOD should develop conventionally armed intermediate nuclear forces—compliant and noncompliant intermediate-range missiles maneuvering re-entry vehicle ballistic missiles and boost-glide vehicles, respectively capable of penetrating the most advanced and robust IADS to strike their targets or the IADS themselves.
Missiles could be fired from different platforms: ground-based U. Army units in the First and Second Island Chain, naval surface platforms including commercial-standard Handysize freighters , or submarines. Second, DOD should develop sufficient numbers of an all-aspect, low-signature long-range bomber that is, the B capable of cooperating with other systems to penetrate defenses and fire sufficient numbers of new short-range, stand-off weapons to overwhelm advanced point defenses. The combination of new long-range missiles and bombers with supporting systems would improve U.
In this scenario, the United States requires the ability to defeat structured attacks of PLA air and missile threats. Even more importantly, in the Second and Third Island Chains, the ability of defenses to counter the more limited numbers of PRC weapons able to reach these areas is essential to preserving the ability of the joint force to operate from this area. While wide-area defenses against cruise and ballistic missiles are beneficial for the defense of military forces and partner and ally populaces, preliminary assessments suggest they face significant challenges, including difficulty establishing complex kill chains to intercept missiles at long range during combat conditions, the large size of long-range interceptors, and relatively higher costs compared to current and projected terminal defenses.
Therefore, relative increases in investment should be largely devoted to short-range or terminal defenses instead of wide-area defenses.
In response, DOD should consider developing improved defense capabilities for naval combatants and ground forces. These include more plentiful missile and gun-based defensive systems, high-powered microwave weapons, lasers, jammers, and electronic decoys. To be successful, these active defenses must be complemented by a dedicated commitment to passive defenses: dispersal and displacement of forces, hardening of key infrastructure, camouflage, concealment, deception, and rapid reconstitution capabilities.
In response, DOD should consider developing and deploying new capabilities leveraging multiple sensor phenomenology.
Long-distance communications and PNT capabilities are essential for commanding units, integrating forces, navigating, and executing certain kill chains during operations in the region. The U. Promising alternatives include ground-based global positioning system pseudolites, HALE UAS, and improved inertial and celestial navigation capabilities. Contain and Destroy Naval Forces. As with other capability statements, this requirement extends to other scenarios involving the PRC.
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