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3 | THE AIR-SEA BATTLE CONCEPT ASB is a limited objective concept that describes what is necessary for the joint force to sufficiently shape A2/AD environments to enable concurrent or follow-on power projection operations. The ASB Concept seeks to ensure freedom of action in the global commons and is intended to assure allies and deter potential adversaries. ASB is a supporting concept to the Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC), and provides a detailed view of specific technological and operational aspects of the overall A2/AD challenge in the global commons. The Concept is not an operational plan or strategy for a specific region or adversary. Instead, it is an analysis of the threat and a set of classified concepts of operations (CONOPS) describing how to counter and shape A2/AD environments, both symmetrically and asymmetrically, and develop an integrated force with the necessary characteristics and capabilities to succeed in those environments. ASB is about building conceptual alignment, programmatic collaboration and institutional commitment in an integrated way, across the military Services in order to develop forces and capabilities that can jointly address A2/AD challenges. The purpose of ASB is not to simply conduct operations more jointly. It is to increase operational advantage across all domains, enhance Service capabilities and mitigate vulnerabilities.
Central Idea. The ASB Concept’s solution to the A2/AD challenge in the global commons is to develop networked, integrated forces capable of attack-in-depth to disrupt, destroy and defeat adversary forces (NIA/D3). ASB’s vision of networked, integrated, and attack-in-depth (NIA) operations requires the application of cross-domain operations across all the interdependent warfighting domains (air, maritime, land, space, and cyberspace, to disrupt, destroy, and defeat (D3) A2/AD capabilities and provide maximum operational advantage to friendly joint and coalition forces.
Cross-domain operations are conducted by integrating capabilities from multiple interdependent warfighting domains to support, shape, or achieve objectives in other domains. Cross-domain operations are those that can exploit asymmetric advantages in specific domains to create positive and potentially cascading effects in other domains. For cross-domain operations to be fully effective, commanders, whether defending or attacking, must have ready access to capabilities, no matter what domain they reside in or which commander owns them, to support or achieve operational objectives and create the effects required for advantage over an adversary. This interoperability may require multi-pathing, or the ability to use multiple, alternative paths from among all domain capabilities to achieve a desired end. While cross-domain operations are more complex than single domain or single Service options, their multi-pathing possibilities can provide distinct operational advantages over single domain or single Service solutions to operational problems.
The ability to integrate capabilities, equipment, platforms, and units across multiple domains and to communicate, interact, and operate together presents a joint force commander with more numerous and powerful options, which in turn, offer greater probability of operational success. For example, cyber or undersea operations can be used to defeat air defense systems, air forces can be used to eliminate submarine or mine maritime threats, or space assets can be used to disrupt adversary command and control. Put simply, traditional understandings of Service missions, functional responsibilities, or employment of capabilities from particular domains should not be barriers that hamper imaginative joint operations in an A2/AD environment. Each of the elements of ASB’s construct offer joint force commanders increased flexibility and capability.
Networked. In the ASB Concept, networked actions are tightly coordinated in real time by mission-organized forces to conduct integrated operations across all domains without being locked into Service-specific procedures, tactics, or weapons systems. A networked force is people and equipment linked in time and purpose with interoperable procedures; command control (C2) structures; and appropriate authorities capable of translating information into actions. These joint forces are able to attack the adversary A2/AD system-of-systems in depth and across all domains to create and exploit vulnerabilities.
Networked capabilities are both the physical means by which forces communicate and exchange information and the relationships, protocols, and procedures used by warfighters to complete their assigned missions. To be effective, networked forces need interoperable procedures, (C2) structures, and equipment. Authorities must also be provided at the appropriate C2 level in order for joint and coalition forces to gain and maintain decision advantage. In the ASB
Concept, networked does not only mean having assured communications and access to data; it also means having a force trained to conduct operations using mission-type orders and being able to operate even in the absence of continuous connectivity. The joint force can achieve that ability in part by establishing habitual relationships across Service, component, and domain lines so that forces can be effectively trained to operate together in a contested and degraded environment.
Integrated. Integration is the arrangement of military forces and their actions to create a force that operates networked across domains as a whole. An integrated joint force is better able to combine capabilities across multiple domains to conduct specific missions. The basic concept of integration has further evolved into seeking the development of pre-integrated joint forces. In order to maintain an advantage over potential adversaries, air, naval, and land forces must fully integrate their operations. Integration, traditionally viewed as strictly the combatant commander’s job, needs to begin across Service lines as part of force development.
Forces should be integrated prior to entering a theater. Effective integration requires enhanced joint and combined training against A2/AD capabilities, including training and exercise for cross-domain operations before deployment.
In some cases, pre-integration will also require Services’ collaboration in materiel programming to ensure interoperability to avoid overly redundant or incompatible systems.
Attack-in-depth to Disrupt, Destroy and Defeat. The attack-in-depth methodology is based on adversary effects chains, or an adversary’s process of finding, fixing, tracking, targeting, engaging and assessing an attack on U.S. forces. Attack-in-depth is offensive and defensive fires, maneuver, and command and control with the objective of disrupting, destroying, or defeating an adversary’s A2/AD capabilities, conducted across domains in time, space, purpose, and resources. Attack-in-depth seeks to apply both kinetic and non-kinetic means to address adversary critical vulnerabilities without requiring systematic destruction of the enemy’s defenses (e.g., a rollback of an adversary’s integrated air defense system).
D3 represents the 3 lines of effort of the ASB Concept:
• Disrupt Adversary Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR or C4I);
• Destroy adversary A2/AD platforms and weapons systems; and, • Defeat adversary employed weapons and formations.
Disrupting these effects chains includes impacting an adversary’s C4ISR or C4I capabilities, ideally precluding attack on friendly forces. Destroying or neutralizing adversary weapons platforms enhances friendly survivability and provides freedom of action. Defeating employed weapons post-launch defends friendly forces from an adversary’s attacks and allows sustained operations.
Due to the nature of A2/AD threats and potentially short indications and warning timelines posed by adversaries, joint forces must be capable of effective offensive operations as soon as conflict begins, while simultaneously defending or re-positioning deployed forces, protecting land and sea bases, and bringing forces forward from garrison with acceptable levels of risk. The ability to attack and defend through the entire depth of the desired battlespace, in all the interdependent warfighting domains, is critical to establishing joint freedom of action.
4 | ROLE IN JOINT FORCE DEVELOPMENTThe ASB Concept is focused on joint force development. As a service concept, it falls under the Services’ Title 10 responsibilities to man, train, and equip forces for employment by the combatant commands. Accordingly, the objective of the ASB Concept is to inform force development to ultimately provide combatant commanders’ joint forces with the aforementioned NIA-D3 capabilities that will help ensure freedom of access in the global commons.
The ASB Concept is intended to foster future capabilities that directly support several of the U.S. Armed Forces primary missions described in the DoD’s Strategic Guidance (DSG): Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. These include missions to Deter and Defeat Aggression, Project Power Despite Anti-Access/ Area Denial Challenges, and to Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space.
The ASB Concept is also a supporting concept to and thus complements the overarching Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s force development vision detailed in the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020 (CCJO), JOAC, and the emerging Joint Concept for Entry Operations (JCEO). As a capstone document, the CCJO describes the future operating environment and the high-order vision for how the future force will need to conduct Globally Integrated Operations across the Range of Military Operations (ROMO). ASB is aligned with this operating environment and several of the key elements required to achieve the Chairman’s vision – specifically concerning the need for developing cross-domain synergy in the future force.
JOAC is a component under the CCJO that broadly describes how U.S. joint forces will overcome opposed access challenges. It establishes guiding precepts and capabilities necessary to assure access and for the joint forces to overcome A2/AD threats. At the next level, ASB supports JOAC by identifying more specific means and requirements by which the joint force may defeat those adversary threats in order to maintain freedom of action in the global commons.
JCEO, at the same level as ASB, will focus on guiding force development to enable joint force entry operations in an A2/AD environment. ASB can be seen to support JCEO by covering that freedom of action and access requirements in the global commons that ultimately support the joint force’s ability to conduct concurrent or follow-on entry operations.
Like other joint concepts, ASB does not seek to create a new force, as in one with wholly new equipment or capabilities, but instead endeavors to unify Service Title 10 efforts to develop forces that fight together more effectively. The Concept is a natural evolution of joint coalition warfighting toward more networked and integrated operational employment. It is an example of how the separate Services can formally collaborate, yet still protect, develop, and maintain unique Service capabilities, equities, and culture.
The ASB Concept views the joint force in a holistic way to include doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) within the Services’ purview to organize, train, and equip. The ASB Concept specifically addresses a range of threats, such as ballistic and cruise missiles, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, anti-ship capabilities from high-tech missiles and submarines to low-tech swarming boats, electronic warfare, and counter-C4ISR capabilities. Yet, the ASB Concept differs from other concepts because, while it contains the operational details needed in a limited objective concept, it is about fostering institutional change, conceptual alignment, and materiel change in and among the Services.
• Institutional Service and joint cooperation is enhanced through enduring organizational collaboration relevant to A2/AD environments as they evolve over time. Over the long term, the Concept envisions closer collaboration and integration of the Services’ organize, train, and equip activities across the DOTMLPF spectrum. This will be done by expanding integration efforts through collaborative planning and increased liaison to emphasize more joint training at the operational and tactical levels.
• Conceptual alignment, perpetuated through the ASB conceptual design, which describes how capabilities and forces are integrated to accomplish combatant commander-directed operational objectives in A2/ AD environments. Conceptual alignment actions fall into three broad categories: concept development, wargaming, and experimentation.
• Materiel solutions and innovations are collaboratively developed and vetted to ensure they are complementary where appropriate, redundant when mandated by capacity requirements, fully interoperable, and fielded with integrated acquisition strategies. ASB advocates for a process with expected products with a specific timeline to better facilitate Services’ programmatic collaboration. The process is not intended to supplant existing Service activities, but to benefit from those activities and act as a focal point for improving inter-Service collaboration.