Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 2--ISR

Part 2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in the Pacific Rim.

At the end of the Cold War the U.S. Department of Defense downsized its ISR capability. So much so that at one point, they had to bring back the SR-71 from retirement. Large portions of SOSUS have been retired. P-3 Orion capability has been downsized. The S-3--which was the only long-range asset on the aircraft carrier--has also been retired. DOD leadership still thinks we are in a post Cold War world when, in fact, another one is coming along.

Communism has to be contained. This was the lesson from the Cold War. For this discussion we are talking about China. Yes, North Korea also, but their aggression is enabled by China.

With all that, some sycophant/PowerPoint warrior will tell you everything is under control. This is untrue. We do not have enough ISR to secure the Pacific Rim. Along with our overall poor strategic vision, the over-focus on the suite of Operation: USELESS DIRT wars has helped to denude the Pacific Rim of much needed resources.

The U.S. needs to build up the P-8 platform in a large way. It also needs ISR variants of the base platform to take over duties of Rivet Joint, JSTARS, and from what we can see of China's expansion of military capability, all of the other funny-named xC-135 special mission aircraft.

The U.S. needs to invest in a AWACs replacement. Not perfect but the Wedgetail, will help.

If we are to believe in aircraft carriers in Pacific operations, we need to bring the S-3 out of retirement. There are a variety of senors that can be put on it, and it is even handy for anti-piracy ISR if that is your thing.

Air-breathing/manned ISR in no way can be replaced by UAVs. We don't have the money to crash that many airframes (look at the UAV mishap rate). But yes, UAVs are important. The Global Hawk platform is a important part of our ISR needs.

Finally, on the topic of manned ISR, even the submarine force contributes to all of this. While on the mentioning of submarines, yes, more of them have been home-based in the Pacific, but given all of the other signs of U.S. strategic glaucoma this is not enough.

We need to install a modern-day SOSUS in the Pacific.

All of this has to be supported by a secure and robust orbital space infrastructure that I don't even know if we have to a proper level today.

Add all this up and--along with some other things such as the rest of our SIGINT/COMINT resources--and you have overlapping and supporting layers of ISR.

There are ways to pay for all of this, even in our bleak funding outlook. Yet, if we had all the money to do these things, it would take visionary leadership. This is also in short supply.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 1--Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats


Cocidius said...

The recent pursuit of a US U2 flying on the Taiwanese side of the Straight of Taiwan meridian line by Chinese J-11's is a perfect example of why a manned high speed/high altitude ISR platform like the SR-71 is still needed.

When we look at the intense and sometimes dangerous actions of China's military in what had now become routine encounters in the air and at sea one has to openly question what the hell they're so worried about us seeing?

Distiller said...

The question of the use of UxVs is inseperably connected to the question of that orbital infrastructure you mention.

But without that orbital infrastructure the only other option is, let's say, three dozen light carriers tasked primarily with ISR and ASW.

Cause the few land bases the U.S. has available in the Pacific are terribly vulnerable and in no way adequate to support major combat operations against China.