Can America crush Russia’s A2/AD ‘bubbles’?

(From The National Interest)

By Dave Majumdar

The United States has the right tools to take on Russian anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) zones in the European theatre, but it does not have enough capacity to take on Moscow’s new bastions head-on. Moreover, the U.S. military is overly reliant on air power to defeat those emerging threats.

“We have the tools, but we do not have nearly enough of them—and the speed that we would need to eliminate these A2/AD bubbles—to be able to deploy our forces is going to be controlled by the depth of the bench of how we can attack those A2/AD forces,” retired U.S Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, former commander of U.S. European Command told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on June 29. “Right now, we’re almost completely dependent on air forces and aviation assets in order to attack the A2/AD problem.”

Russian Iskander short-range ballistic missile

Russian Iskander short-range ballistic missile

But air power might not be enough. Breedlove suggests that U.S. ground forces should play a role in taking on the Russian A2/AD threat. “We need more long-range, survivable, precision strike capability from the ground,” Breedlove said. “We need dense capability—like the dense A2/AD networks that we face.”

However, Breedlove did not address if the ground-based capability he seeks would be compatible with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which prohibits ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. It is possible that Breedlove was suggesting a weapon that falls within the confines of the INF treaty—similar to the Russian Iskander-M.

Breedlove also suggested that NATO should examine the possibility of setting up its own offensive A2/AD capabilities. Breedlove said he regards Russian A2/AD zones to be inherently offensive in nature and suggests the U.S. should respond in kind. “Do we create our own anti-access/area-denial capability?” Breedlove asked. “That is a big decision.” Read more


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