This briefing will focus on the shift from a primary focus on the land wars to dealing
with peer competitors and those in particular shaping what analysts are calling anti-
access and area denial strategies. The US and the allies are not just sitting on their
hands. They are building out relevant high tempo and high intensity warfare
We are focusing on the shift from slo mo to high intensity operations on the current
Second Line of Defense Forum.
How will the US and the allies make these shifts, and to take the force we have and
make it more high intensity combat ready and ensure that modernization going
ahead enhances the capability to engage in and win high intensity conflict?
As China and Russia build out anti-access and area denial capabilities, there is the rise
of what can be called second nuclear age powers. The return of the nuclear
challenge is part of the evolving threat calculus and one which requires rethinking
how best to build high intensity operational capabilities.
Paul Bracken’s characterization of the new phase as the Second Nuclear Age
highlights the return of the nuclear question.
The North Korean crisis certainly highlights the new realities.
But at the heart of the debate as well is the nature of why a country like North Korea
has nuclear weapons. It is clearly not a classic deterrent dynamic.
As Danny Lam has put it with regard to North Korean nuclear intentions:
Kim Jong Un’s speech on September 22, 2017 that the US have declared war on DPRK
and “will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S.
pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.” in this context
leaves no doubt that North Korea will use their nuclear capabilities offensively
against the US.
DPRK Foreign Minister Ri’s speech publically stated in front of the UN General
Assembly that North Korea intend to handsomely profit from their ability to enforce
settlement of their alleged grievances against the world with thermonuclear
That much, is perfectly clear: North Korea will be the world’s first nuclear armed
From an interview we conducted with Admiral Gortney in 2016 when he was
NORTHCOM/NORAD Commander: We can look at the evolving threat as a ten o’clock
and a two o’clock fight, because they originate from the ten and two. And the ten
o’clock fight is primarily right now an aviation fight. They’re moving capability there,
but it’s nothing like what they have at the two o’clock fight. The two o’clock fight is
more of a maritime fight…..
Both the Chinese and Russians have said in their open military literature, that if
conflict comes, they want to escalate conflict in order to de-escalate it.
Now think about that from our side. And so now as crisis escalates, how will Russia or
China want to escalate to deescalate? They’ll definitely come at us through cyber.
And they’ll deliver conventional and potentially put nukes on the table. We have to
treat the threat in a global manner and we have to be prepared to be able to deal
with these through multiple domains, which include cyber, but that’s not in NORAD
or NORTHCOM mission sets.
The work of The Williams Foundation in Australia has done a great job in highlighting
the path to US and allied innovations and highlighted the challenges and
See, for example:
The new UK carriers is at the heart of integrating UK forces to deliver UK capabilities
within the integrated battlespace, both in terms of an integrated carrier strike force
as we fighting systems which will come together onboard the ship.
It is however at the heart of shaping 21st century interoperability.
There is the interoperability being worked with the US Navy, as evidenced in the
recent Saxon Warrior exercise off of Scotland.
There is the interoperability being worked as the USMC will operate its F-35Bs off of
the ship. This will require an ability for the ship to operate US weapons onboard as
well as to accommodate USMC maintainers as well with their specific national
The ship is an F-35 carrier and will work its interoperability with other F-35s as well in
the region, notably with the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Italians, the
Israelis, the US and perhaps others Europeans as well.
In other words, the carrier is at the vortex of a turn in British history, and a key
element of shaping 21st century force integration and interoperability.
This slide came from a presentation by Captain Nick Walker, Royal Navy, to a
Williams Foundation seminar in Canberra Australia.
What it is getting at is that the core transformation of US and allied military power is
to reshape how the shooter-sensor relationship works in an integrated force. The
core point is rather straightforward: rather than simply looking at what a platform
carries organically, it is about how a package of force can cross operate to deliver a
In my own work, I pioneered the concept of the long reach of aegis, in which the F-35
strike force actually operates as a forward sensor capability for the Aegis defensive
system and integrated together creates and offensive-defensive capability.
C2 is become an essential element for force structure transformation, rather than
focusing excessively on the ISR, or collection of information to inform decisions.
The shift from the kinds of land wars fought in the past decade and a half to
operating across the range of military operations to insert force and to prevail in a
more rapid tempo conflict than that which characterized counter-insurgency
operations carries with it a need to have a very different C2 structure and
technologies to support those structures.
The shift to higher tempo operations is being accompanied by platforms which are
capable of operating in an extended battlespace and at the edge of the battlespace
where hierarchical, detailed control simply does not correlate with the realities of
either combat requirements or of technology which is part of a shift to distributed
Distributed operations over an extended battlespace to deal with a range of military
operations require distributed C2; not hierarchical detailed micro management.
In effect, the focus is upon shaping the commander’s intent and allowing the combat
forces to execute that intent, and to shape evolving missions in the operations, with
the higher level commanders working to gain an overview on the operations, rather
than micro-management of the operations.
In our book on Rebuilding American Military Power in the Pacific, we laid out an
approach which provided for the kind of force transformation necessary to deal with
the new strategic environment.
“This book is a contribution to shaping broader understanding of what is necessary
and what needs to be done, if vision and will are added to technological change.
It is designed to define the challenges and suggest paths to shaping solutions
appropriate to the challenges.”
“It makes no sense to take 20th century thinking forward to deal with 21st century
challenges and to operate within the mental furniture of the past.
“The PRC push out into the Pacific and North Korean developments intersect with
U.S. technologies to shape a strategic trajectory as important as the carrier was to
the 20th century in the Pacific, namely shaping a distributed operations force for the
U.S. and its allies. The book lays out some of the key ways to shape such a force.”