Unbeknownst to most Americans, the U.S. military is in the midst of another of its many revolutions in thinking. As we depart Iraq and begin positioning ourselves to exit Afghanistan, the military appears in a rush to put the whole idea of Counterinsurgency Warfare behind it. All over D.C. one can hear the sounds of the nation’s deepest military thinkers closing the door on one era as they scramble about in search of the next big thing. Counterinsurgency had a good run — almost ten years. Few military fads, in recent decades, have had such a spectacular run. Entire forests have been decimated for the discussion of ideas such as Shock and Awe, Network Centric Warfare, A Revolution in Military Affairs, and Effects-Based Operations, none of which lasted half as long. You may have not have heard about any of these, but trust me, each, in turn, has absorbed the full mental capacity of nearly every defense intellectual in the country. And now these thinkers need something new.
This is where the latest idea exciting the defense-intellectual community — Air-Sea Battle — comes in. Although the pedigree of Air-Sea Battle is a bit obscure, it got its most recent impetus from former secretary of defense Robert Gates, who in 2010 asked for a comprehensive plan to ensure that the United States could maintain its access to strategic waterways around the globe, even as the defense budget shrinks.
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