Not Enough for the Navy

Retired Naval War College professor Marshall Hoyler reviews Aaron Friedberg‘s A Contest for Supremacy; China America, and the Struggle for Supremacy in Asia, seeing the work as an extended case to support long-range procurement of expensive Navy and Air Force weapons programs. Hoyler, a navalist, acknowledges that Friedberg makes some good points. However, he suggests that if this is all the technical services have to offer for an argument to defund the ground-pounders in favor of jets and ships, then both services are in trouble.

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Hardball on the Water

“How the U.S. Should Respond to the Chinese Naval Challenge,” Dean Cheng’s policy brief for the Heritage Foundation, offers few original policy recommendations, (“fully fund the Navy’s shipbuilding program, invest in strong R&D, strengthen ties with allies, and uninvite China to RIMPAC“) and does not even begin to address the fiscal or diplomatic impacts of the ideas it offers. It does, however, present a clear case for playing a game in the region that the Chinese will understand – and respect. The soft approach won’t work with China, Cheng asserts. Time to play hardball. Tell that to the crew of the USS Cowpens – they’ll say that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Defending China from the Air

English: Navy Army Air Force fight the enemy p...

English: Navy Army Air Force fight the enemy poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“China’s Aerospace Power Trajectory in the Near Seas”
Daniel J. Kostecka
Naval War College Review
Summer 2012

Over the past four years, a growing meme within the U.S. Naval and Air Force communities has been China’s growing air and space capabilities, especially in the coastal seas of the Western Pacific. That meme has turned into a formative doctrine called “Air-Sea Battle” that the Navy and Air Force are promulgating as a means of demonstrating their continued relevance to U.S. defense.

No surprise, then, that writing on China’s air and sea capabilities has been increasing, and that the tone of the professional writing is starting to get shrill. Naval analyst Dan Kostecka offers a more measured analysis, concluding that while China has made impressive strides in capabilities, the less glamorous but essential doctrine, training, and hardware that would make for a truly invincible shield is not there.

Kostecka identifies several vulnerabilities that weaken China’s efforts in the region. While he does not come out and say it, the Air Force and the Navy would do well in their early Air Sea Battle concepts to focus on exploiting those weaknesses rather than countering the strengths. It’s a thoughtful, smart piece and one that offers a long-overdue counter to the Write Bigger Checks approach to national defense.