Academic journal article Military Review

A Role for Land Warfare Forces in Overcoming A2/AD

Academic journal article Military Review

A Role for Land Warfare Forces in Overcoming A2/AD

Article excerpt

IN A SPEECH to students at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Gen. Raymond Odierno stated that we are currently living in the most uncertain international scene that he has ever experienced in his 37-year military career. (1) Terrorism, ethnic strife, the overthrow of despotic leaders, and the threat of nuclear weapons in conventional war are just a few reasons many long for the "good old days" of the Cold War. The bad news is that in the face of all these security challenges, the rise of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weapons systems poses major challenges that could potentially erode the deterrent effect of America's land warfare forces and render America's preferred way of battle unexecutable. The good news is that overcoming A2/AD weapons systems is possible, but requires a new focus for portions of America's land warfare forces. These forces have an essential role in mitigating A2/AD, indeed, refocused land warfare forces will bolster steady state shaping, enhance deterrence, and ensure that in an A2/AD conflict the joint force commander has fully developed, prepared, versatile, and tailorable options. In a nutshell, in a counterA2/AD campaign, land warfare forces are essential to create, expand, then potentially amplify the tactical gains delivered by the joint force to gain and maintain U.S. advantage.

Central Idea--Land Forces in A2/AD Environments

The so what of A2/AD is that it focuses on mitigating America's ability to project military force. Strategically, it stymies America's ability to protect its vital interests in key regions. Operationally, A2/AD prevents America from executing its preferred way of battle. Tactically, A2/AD presents a robust multi-domain defense with long-range offensive capabilities and fires. Figure 1 depicts current land warfare competencies that are directly applicable to overcoming A2/AD in any battle space. Figure 2 depicts three broad mission areas for land warfare forces to mitigate A2/AD: reconnaissance, raids, and seizures. The mission areas of figure 2 suggest the use of counter-A2/AD land warfare forces that include light infantry brigade combat team (BCT) and below-sized units that are rapidly deliverable using high-speed, survivable, horizontal/vertical lift platforms and, in certain scenarios, movement via undersea vehicles. To facilitate rapid objective area movement, assaulting land warfare forces must utilize a new generation of smart, light, armed, and all-terrain vehicles. Those ground-forces mobility attributes are consistent with current Department of Defense (DOD) strategic guidance for a lean, agile, flexible, and ready force. (2) But at the BCT level and below--where fighting happens--existing land warfare forces tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) must be adapted and new ones created to overcome A2/AD's effects on force security, movement, intelligence, signal, fires, and logistics. These counter-A2/AD TTPs will be different from the permissive condition ones found in counterinsurgency environments.

Lighter units will need to know they are supported in tough A2/AD conditions and that those supporting them understand the mechanics and possess the required expertise. Likewise, BCT systems and equipment must be purpose-built with the rigors of the A2/AD fight in mind. For example, land warfare forces will require integrated, survivable, self-healing tactical and strategic communications; rapidly responsive high-speed joint force fires; and secure, fused national-to-tactical multisource intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Overall, in winning an A2/AD fight, each service has much to offer, but no single service can establish the conditions to win that fight. Now, in the years before the A2/AD confrontation America will need to win, service chiefs and combatant commanders must understand A2/AD, the role of land warfare forces in mitigating A2/AD, and joint force vulnerabilities and dependencies. …

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