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The Real Challenge in the Pacific

A Response to “How to 
Deter China”

A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago, January 2013. Reuters / Quang Le

In past years, Andrew Krepinevich, Jr., has argued for a U.S. military operational concept in the Pacific theater called “Air-Sea Battle.” This concept relies heavily on preemptive deep strikes in the early stages of a conflict and would have been highly escalatory. Perhaps implicitly recognizing the costs and risks of such an approach, Krepinevich now offers up a replacement he calls “Archipelagic Defense” (“How to Deter China,” March/April 2015). This approach would “deny China the ability to control the air and the sea around the first island chain,” largely through the deployment of U.S. and allied ground forces and supporting military assets, including antiaircraft, antimissile, and antisubmarine capabilities. Arrayed in areas from Japan to the Philippines, these measures are necessary, he argues, because Beijing is committed to a strategy of coercion and intimidation designed to exclude the United States from the western Pacific and eventually lead to China’

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