New US Strategy and Technology

18/2/20 | 1 | 0 | 516 εμφανίσεις

By George Friedman  Geopolitical Future

The world is facing a fundamental strategic and technical shift in both the geopolitics of war and its dynamic. The shift is being driven by the United States’ decision to change its global strategic posture and the maturation of new classes of weaponry that change how wars will be fought.

U.S. Posture

The U.S. has publicly announced a change in American strategy consisting of two parts. The first is abandoning the focus on jihadists that began with al-Qaida’s attack on the U.S. in 2001. The second is reshaping and redefining forces to confront China and Russia. For a while, it had been assumed that there would no longer be peer-to-peer conflicts but rather extended combat against light infantry and covert forces such as was taking place in Afghanistan. After every international confrontation, including the Cold War, the absence of immediate peer threats leads strategists to assume that none will emerge, and that the future engagements will involve managing instability rather than defeating peers. This illusion is the reward of comfort to the victorious powers. Immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, the belief was that the only issue facing the world was economic, and that military strategy was archaic. The events of 9/11 changed that, but the idea of national conflicts was still seen as farfetched.

The United States is now shifting its strategy to focus on peer-to-peer conflict. Peer-to-peer conflict is not about two equal powers fighting; it’s about two powers that field similar forces. So the war in Afghanistan was between a combined arms force and a totally different, light infantry force. As we saw in Vietnam, the latter can defeat a far more advanced force by understanding the political dimension more clearly than its opponent. Peer-to-peer conflict involves two forces conceiving of war in the same way. Germany invaded Poland and was by far the more powerful force, but Poland conceived of war the same way the Germans did. In this sense, they were peers.

The United States is a global power. Russia cannot wage war in the Atlantic or Pacific. China cannot project decisive power into Europe. The United States can do both. It is not nearly as geographically limited in its warfighting as the other two are. But were the United States to confront them within the areas where they can operate, the question then is the quality of forces, in terms of command and technology.

China’s national interest pivots on its ability to use sea lanes to sustain international trade. Its ability to project land power is limited by terrain; to its south are hills, jungles and the Himalayas, and to its north is Siberia. It could attack westward through Kazakhstan, but the logistical challenges are enormous and the benefits dubious. For China, then, the fundamental problem is naval, deriving from the threat that the U.S. could use its forces to blockade and cripple China.

Russia’s strategic interest rests in regaining the buffer zone from Latvia to Romania. The loss of these states in 1991 eroded the main defense line of an attack from the west. Russia’s primary goal, therefore, is to recover these buffers. Of secondary but still significant importance is holding the North Caucasus south of the Russian agricultural heartland. The threat to this region is insurgency in areas like Chechnya and Dagestan, or an American move from the South Caucasus.

Neither a U.S. naval blockade of China nor an attack on Russia proper from the west are likely scenarios. But national strategy must take into account implausible but catastrophic scenarios, because common sense can evaporate rapidly. Thus the Russians must maintain sustained pressure primarily to the west but also to the south. China must press eastward, in the South and East China seas, to demonstrate the costs a blockade would impose.

The focus for each is not necessarily action but creating the possibility of action and thereby shaping the political relationship. The danger is that the gesture will trigger what had been seen as an unreasonable response. The problem for the United States is that it cannot be sure of Russia’s or China’s reading of American intentions, and therefore, it must be prepared to counter both. War is rarely about hunger for conquest; it is about the fear of being conquered. For Russia, it is fear that the U.S. will try to achieve what Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve, given the loss of its buffers. For China, it is a fear of strangulation by American naval forces. For the United States, it is fear that Russia will return with force to Central Europe, or that China will surge into the Western Pacific. All such fears are preposterous until they mount to such a point that doing nothing appears imprudent.

A New Class of Weapons

World War II was first waged between German armor and Soviet infantry, and then it became a war of armor against armor. In the Pacific, the decisive war was not of battleships against battleships, but of aircraft against naval vessels and, toward the end, airpower. Much of the battles on islands like Saipan and Guadalcanal were intended by both sides to secure them for air bases. The Cold War, had it turned hot, was conceived of as an upgraded World War II, of armor and air power against armor and air power.

From World War II until the end of the Cold War, peer-to-peer conflict focused on three classes of weapons: armored vehicles, aircraft carriers and manned bombers. After 1967 and the introduction of precision-guided weapons, the survivability of these weapons declined, and massive resources had to be allocated to allow them to survive. Armor had to be constantly upgraded to defeat far cheaper projectiles that were unlikely to miss. Aircraft carriers had to be surrounded by carrier battle groups consisting of anti-air cruisers, anti-submarine destroyers and attack submarines, all integrated into complex computer systems that could counter attacks by precision-guided weapons. Manned bombers flying into enemy airspace could be confronted by sophisticated surface-to-air missiles. The solution was to try to build bombers invisible to enemy radar. The cost of defending these systems that emerged in World War II surged as the cost of destroying them began to decline.

Counters to precision-guided weapons inevitably emerged, and we have reached the threshold of a new class of weapons: hypersonic missiles. These munitions, which can travel at five to 10 times the speed of sound, maneuver in flight and carry sufficient explosives, including sub munitions (smaller projectiles designed to hit multiple targets), make the survival of tanks, surface vessels and manned bombers increasingly problematic. Their speed, maneuverability and defenses against detection decrease the probability that all incoming hypersonic missiles can be destroyed, while they retain the precision of previous generations of weapons.

Russia, China and the U.S. are all working on these weapons. Sometimes they exaggerate their limited capabilities; sometimes they minimize their substantial capabilities. But all have them and are developing better ones if they can. And this changes war from the way it was conceived in World War II and the Cold War. A new system of weapons is beginning to emerge.

The key to the development of hypersonics is range. The shorter their range, the closer the attacker must come. The longer the range, the more uncertainty there is over its location and the more likely it is to survive and be fired, maneuvering in excess of the ability of defending system. So in the South China Sea, it will not be carriers facing carriers. They will be neutralized by hypersonic missiles. Nor will it be armored brigades engaging. The tanks will be neutralized long before they engage. The goal will be to locate and destroy an enemy’s missiles before they are launched and before they can approach their target.

The key will be the ability to locate and track hypersonic missiles and then destroy them. The solution to this is systems in space. The Chinese will not engage the U.S. Navy with its carriers. It will try to destroy them with well camouflaged missiles from land bases. To do this, they must locate the target, which is mobile. Its own platforms being vulnerable, they will rely on space-based reconnaissance. The United States’ primary mission therefore will be to destroy Chinese satellites, find the location of Chinese launchers and launch saturated attacks on them, likely from space.

Modern war, like all war, depends on intelligence and targeting information. Precision-guided munitions move older platforms toward obsolescence, and hypersonics closes the door. The battle must be at a longer range than most missiles have now, and will be dependent on a space-based system for targeting. This means that victory in war will depend on command of space.

Note that the U.S. has now established the U.S. Space Force, which integrated the space fighting capabilities of other services into one. This represents the realization that dealing with peer powers now depends on the command of space. Therefore, the United States’ strategic turn away from jihadists toward Russia and China also constitutes a shift away from the primacy of older platforms. A new strategy and the recognition of the importance of space mean that the decisive battle will not be fought on Earth’s surface.

Category: International

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    Mily Leo says:

    Μα είναι δυνατόν να αναπαράγετε συνεχώς ένα τυχοδιώκτη- απατεώνα και να μην κάνετε μια έρευνα ώστε να εντοπίσετε πως μαζί με τη γυναίκα του έγραψε βιβλίο μετά το τέλος του Ψυχρού Πολέμου προβλέποντας πόλεμο μεταξύ ΗΠΑ και Ιαπωνίας; Ψάξτε τον και μην εντυπωσιάστε
    Είναι και τουρκοπληκτος και προβλέπει την Τουρκια να ανταγωνίζεται τις ΗΠΑ στο διάστημα, αλλά αυτό είναι το λιγότερο !

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