Strategic Thinkers?

There has been something of an on-going debate about how to deal with the unlikely, but potentially very important possibility of a War with China, between T. X. Hammes, author of the Offshore Control (OC) Strategy (a 16 page pdf), and Elbridge Colby. a proponent of “AirSea Battle,” in the blogs “The Diplomat” and “The National Interest.” The posts are here:

Strategy for an Unthinkable Conflict, By  T.X. Hammes, July 27, 2012

Don’t Sweat AirSea Battle, Elbridge Colby, July 31, 2013

Sorry, AirSea Battle Is No Strategy, T. X. Hammes,August 7, 2013

The War over War with China, Elbridge Colby, August 15, 2013

Offshore Control vs. AirSea Battle: Who Wins?, T. X. Hammes, August 21, 2013

————– has also noted the exchange. There has been an ongoing discussion there as well.

To some extent this is an apples and oranges debate, in that while “Offshore Control” (OC) is fairly well developed strategy, “Air Sea Battle” (ASB) is only intended as an Operational Concept, and there is no fully developed unclassified explanation of all it involves. But Offshore Control would specifically exclude attacks on Chinese territory, so it effectively negates use of Air Sea Battle concepts against China, and as always, decisions like this drive procurement, so there is much at stake here, including possibly development of a new bomber for the Air Force and long range air and missile assets for the Navy.

In any case, if there is a war with China, it is likely there will be an attempt to blockade its shipping, most probably just outside the straits between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. There is a good possibility that the Coast Guard would be ask to fill in, in this area, because the Navy will inevitably be overstretched.

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