A FUTURE MARITIME CONFLICT

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1 Chapter Two A FUTURE MARITIME CONFLICT The conflict hypothesized involves a small island country facing a large hostile neighboring nation determined to annex the island. The fact that the primary attack routes are over water, along with the small island country s dependence on sea lines of communications (SLOCs) and air lines of communications (ALOCs), implies a significant naval component. Setting the conflict 10 years into the future provides time to implement emerging NCW concepts as well as some new Navy systems. THE ENEMY S PLAN The scenario begins early in 2009, as the hostile nation prepares to attack the nearby island nation. By May 2010, planning is complete and the enemy is ready to initiate operations against the island. From the enemy s perspective, the most favorable outcome would be for the island to capitulate before the United States intervenes as the United States has promised to do in the event serious hostile acts are initiated. An intense initial attack will further the enemy s goal. Attacking before the island s main supporter (the United States) can assist in its defense will maximize the effectiveness of the strike. Simultaneity A primary effect of the attack is to degrade the island s airfields and command and control facilities. The operational objective is to overrun island air defenses early. The goal is to maintain constant pressure, thus preventing the island from reconstituting air superiority. 7

2 8 Measures of Effectiveness for the Information-Age Navy Simultaneously, an attempt is made to cut the island s SLOCs. This is seen to be useful in weakening the island as the conflict continues, even if the tactic were unsuccessful in forcing capitulation. The island is particularly dependent on its SLOCs for fuel. The aggressor plans to declare an interdiction and launch an effort to destroy several merchant vessels before the United States can intervene. In the (likely) event capitulation does not occur early, the interdiction will be extended as part of a war of attrition. Capitalizing on Asymmetries Although the aggressor s air force is numerically superior to the island s air force in 2010, the aggressor cannot bring all of its aircraft to bear in any reasonable period of time. The problem is that the aircraft are widely dispersed and the command and control capability is undeveloped. The aggressor s only leverage is that, unlike the island, it can replace losses from out-of-theater. The island s qualitative advantages in aircraft and crew training offset the numeric disadvantage. The aggressor plans to employ asymmetric warfare techniques developed in the last decade of the twentieth century. Key to its strategy is its relatively large and capable submarine force, its missile force (especially ballistic missile), and a limited electronic warfare (EW) capability. The Aggressor s Asymmetric Advantages Submarine Warfare: Beginning in the 1990s, partly as a result of the high-tech Iraq war, the enemy recognized the value of modern, capable forces, including submarines, and has since devoted considerable resources to modernize its forces. The submarine force, however, has been optimized for attacks against surface ships and not for antisubmarine warfare (ASW). In 2010, the island still cannot counter the enemy submarines with other submarines, surface ships, or aircraft. As a result, the enemy nation can apply pressure to the island nation s SLOCs for long periods without significant risk to its own submarine forces.

3 A Future Maritime Conflict 9 Missiles: The enemy nation has developed a daunting missile challenge in 2010 built on conventional theater ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missiles. They offer a means to attack early those assets most directly relating to the island nation s ability to sustain defensive operations. Defense of more than a small fraction of the island nation against this threat is infeasible. Used in large numbers at the outset of a conflict, these missiles could gain the enemy country early air superiority over the island nation. Electronic Warfare: The enemy nation has developed a significant EW capability against the island nation s warning radars, without which it cannot intercept attacking aircraft efficiently. Along with the aforementioned missile advantage, this capability could help the enemy nation achieve air superiority early in a conflict. The Enemy View A key problem for the aggressor in 2010 is the dispersion of its air forces and the lack of a modern command and control structure that can effectively mass airpower in a timely manner. It must also anticipate U.S. involvement in any conflict with the island. Once in the fight, U.S. forces can threaten much of the aggressor s navy. The aggressor, therefore, plans to move its navy into a defensive bastion to protect all of its high-value ships. We assume U.S. forces are located just a few hundred miles from the enemy nation, and less than a thousand miles from the threatened island. U.S. Navy forces can be on the scene in about a day after getting under way. The fact that the United States can become involved this quickly influences the enemy s strategy. RESISTANCE TO ANNEXATION The island s strategic objective is to hold on against an anticipated massive enemy application of force early in any conflict. The aggressor hopes that its massive application of force will result in an early capitulation. This would be the worst possible outcome for the island as a nation, and therefore it must be prepared to weather such an attack. At a minimum, the island nation must plan to hold out until the United States intervenes.

4 10 Measures of Effectiveness for the Information-Age Navy Although the island cannot hope to defeat its enemy militarily, it can strive to fight to a draw, with the aggressor tiring of the conflict and seeking peace. At best, the aggressor will decide that the cost of continuing the conflict (a war of attrition) would outweigh any possible gain, thus ending the conflict under favorable terms for the island nation. Operational Objectives The island nation s primary objective is to maintain air superiority over its contiguous waters at least up to the limits of the enemy s surface-to-air missile (SAM) envelope. This is paramount. It is vital to protecting SLOCs and ALOCs and deterring or defeating enemy assaults by sea or air. An important weapon for maintaining air superiority in the island nation s arsenal is the F-16 fighter aircraft. Their pilots have been trained in the United States, and they get considerably more flight hours than their enemy counterparts. Consequently, the island has superior air force operational proficiency. This strength is enhanced by command and control capabilities considerably superior to the enemy s uncoordinated air force. Geographically, the island s air superiority will cover all of the island and much of the waters between itself and the enemy, but it will not extend to the enemy coast. Aircraft attacking the island must emerge from overlapping SAM coverage areas before they can be engaged. However, the ALOCs on the island and lesser combatants can be protected against enemy surface attacks on shipping near the island. Figure 2.1 illustrates the situation facing the island as it prepares to defend against an anticipated attack. THE U.S. ROLE U.S. naval forces are positioned to help the island improve its defensive posture against enemy missile attacks by intercepting missiles in flight. There is no desire for the United States to attack the enemy s territory. U.S. aircraft will position themselves to fill the gaps in the island s defense and thereby help ensure that the island

5 A Future Maritime Conflict 11 RANDMR Aggressor Nation SAM coverage Island Nation ALOCs SLOCs Figure 2.1 Theater of Operations nation achieves its primary objective of maintaining air superiority over the island and much of the waters between itself and the enemy. A consequence of the U.S. involvement will likely be to force the aggressor into a defensive posture, thus limiting its offensive options. U.S. Air and Sea Operations Initially the carrier battle group (CVBG) operating nearby will be positioned east of the island with MODLOC position placing it out of enemy reach. 1 It is joined by a second CVBG before the outbreak of hostilities. Aegis cruisers will be assigned to ballistic missile defense duty off the island s two major ports, and SSNs will be assigned to attack enemy interdiction submarines. Figure 2.2 illustrates the disposition of a portion of U.S. naval forces in the theater at D-day. 1 MODLOC stands for Miscellaneous Operational Details, Local Operations: fixed, geographically defined operating areas.

6 12 Measures of Effectiveness for the Information-Age Navy Air Superiority: U.S. forces will help defeat raids across the waters between the island and the aggressor and kill leakers over the island either directly using its fighter aircraft or indirectly by providing command and control support. Missile Defense: Early on, the Aegis cruisers will provide Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) over critical ports and airfields. Later in the conflict, U.S. forces will attack surface combatants who are equipped with Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs). The aggressor s intent to use its missiles early lends urgency to the latter mission. Breaking the Blockade: Enemy surface ships operating outside ports and bastions can be eliminated quickly. Nevertheless, these ships collectively threaten U.S. Navy forces in the area. A large, saturation ASCM attack would be particularly attractive to the aggressor. It would be difficult to coordinate such an attack, but it could succeed through force of numbers. The aggressor s interdiction effort will give its submarines freedom of operation. RANDMR Aggressor Nation SSN CG CG SSN Island Nation CG CG CV CVN Figure 2.2 Disposition of U.S. Naval Force

7 A Future Maritime Conflict 13 Conditions around the island are expected to be poor for ASW, so relatively advanced threats like the improved Kilo will be hard to find. Placing the Enemy on the Defensive: U.S. presence in the conflict will force the enemy navy into a defensive posture. In 2010, the aggressor will have no counter for U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), for example. At sea, the best destroyers available to the aggressor will be easy targets for a Los Angeles-class SSN. Consequently we would expect that enemy surface combatants would retreat to ports or bastions, thus preventing their certain destruction in open waters. The aggressor s surface, subsurface, and air platforms will be largely ineffective against modern U.S. SSNs. Consequently, defense in depth is the enemy s only option. It could interpose minefields, ships with active sonar, and submarines to try to stop a U.S. SSN. With surface combatants forced to retreat for self-protection and with forces committed to the defense of high-value units and systems, fewer capable combatants will be available to the aggressor for use against the island. THE BASIS FOR ANALYSIS Central to the analysis of vignettes derived from this and other scenarios is the effect of changed command and control systems and procedures on the outcome of the battle. Network-centric operations purport to improve combat operations. However, this is merely an assertion and therefore must be regarded as a hypothesis. However plausible it may sound, it requires rigorous assessment, and, to do that, a credible link between command and control systems and procedures and combat outcomes needs to be established. In the next two chapters we attempt to do just that. We focus on the development of mathematical relationships that link network-centric operations, command and control, combat operations, and combat outcomes in the context of the scenario just described. In assessing network-centric operations and command and control procedures, we develop measures of performance. Assessing combat operations and combat outcomes is generally accomplished through the development of measures of combat effectiveness. In this work we have

8 14 Measures of Effectiveness for the Information-Age Navy linked the two so that the effects on combat outcomes of variations in C4ISR procedures and processes can be assessed. In developing the combined metrics, we rely on graph theory to assess the value of connectivity, information theory to assess the value of collaboration and the effects of knowledge, and traditional measures of combat to assess the value of combat power. It is important, however, that we emphasize that no claims are made concerning the correctness of these formulations. They must be treated as hypotheses subject to testing, validation, and calibration.

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