China’s military build-up, particularly the expansion of its long-range nuclear forces and its development of ‘anti-access/area-denial’ (A2/AD) capabilities, poses a serious threat to both the American position in East Asia, and the security of other regional powers. The growth of these forces challenges Washington’s ability, and perhaps its willingness, to project power into the region. This could call American security guarantees into question, eventually undermining the United States’ place as the dominant Asia-Pacific power. Left unchecked, perceived shifts in the regional military balance away from the US and its allies towards China could also raise the risks of miscalculation and deterrence failure. After a decade spent emphasising counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, finding a credible response to China’s A2/AD capabilities is now the central task confronting US military planners. This Adelphi analyses the debate over the future of US military strategy in Asia. It identifies and assesses three approaches to the problem; highlights their likely implications for weapons procurement, force posture and alliance cohesion; and outlines a potential synthesis combining elements of each.
Friedberg’s fair, balanced dissection of the arguments both for and against Air–Sea Battle, as well as the alternative approaches offered by critics, should be the starting point for any future debate about US strategy in the western Pacific. No one has done a better job of outlining the debate over the concepts underpinning the Air–Sea Battle approach. Eric Edelman, former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, 2005–09
Aaron Friedberg’s Adelphi successfully frames one of the most important national-security questions the United States is now facing: how can we sustain a balance of military power that deters coercion and reassures our allies in the face of a stronger and more confident China? Friedberg correctly warns that this challenge will be no small task, requiring careful military investments, alliance coordination, and a new commitment to assessing Chinese decision-making. Congressman J. Randy Forbes, US House of Representatives
An American strategy for China requires analysis that is informed by a deep understanding of history and a sober but courageous review of the choices facing the United States. Friedberg provides both in this timely monograph. Stephen P. Rosen, Kaneb Professor of National Security and Military Affairs, Harvard University, and Senior Counsellor to the Long Term Strategy Group