ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

adfjournal.adc.edu.au

ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

The forces of a major Asia-Pacific powerIn the case of a major power projecting force into the ADF’s primary operating environment,Force 2030 would face significant challenges, although the hypothetical nature of such aneventuality makes it difficult to assess the limitations. As has been seen in the consideration ofForce 2030’s ability to achieve sea control against a regional state adversary, the proximity ofairpower assets in this scenario would affect the exercise of air control, as well as the airbornerelatedASW capability. That said, an opponent’s likely significantly large number of ≥5thgeneration fighters, with enabling assets, may be sufficient to overwhelm Force 2030 even ifnot constrained by range. 37 In addition, it could be expected that a major Asia-Pacific powerwould have large fleets of highly-capable submarines and surface ships, further complicatingthe ability to achieve sea control.The slight consolation is that a major power would likely be sacrificing a considerable advantagein projecting power over a considerable distance, as highlighted by maritime strategists suchas Kearsley. 38 Even so, the reality is that in the face of the capability currently envisagedfor the key major powers in the Asia-Pacific region, Force 2030 alone would face an almostinsurmountable challenge. 39Moreover, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario where an amphibious operation might beconsidered against such a force, with the exception of an amphibious raid or the repositioningof forces in an operational setting. As could be expected, strategic guidance indicates that—faced with a major power projecting force into our immediate region—Force 2030’s prioritywould be sea control in order to deny the use of the sea for operations against Australia. 40ConclusionThis article has examined the limitations that the requirement for sea control place on theability of Force 2030 to conduct self-reliant amphibious operations. It has argued that thenotion (or perhaps the perception) that amphibious operations require sea control is somewhatflawed, as some operations will have no opponent, while others may be able to be conductedsuccessfully without it. What has been conceded, however, is that sea control reduces the riskin the conduct of the amphibious operations.That said, it is also acknowledged that sea control is desirable. And within Australia’s primaryoperating environment, it has been argued that Force 2030’s ability to exercise sea control insupport of amphibious operations is likely to be relatively strong with two exceptions. Thefirst would be where Force 2030, in operations against the conventional forces of a regionalstate, may be forced to operate in areas where it is unable to project air power. In suchcircumstances, Force 2030 would lack the ability to establish sea control against an air threatand would also likely struggle to counter the threat from submarines.The second is where a major Asia-Pacific power projected force into the ADF’s primaryoperating environment. In that hypothetical scenario, Force 2030’s ability to achieve seacontrol would likely be severely limited. However, it is also highly unlikely that Force 2030would be seeking to conduct amphibious operations; rather, the ADF’s sea denial strategywould understandably be focused on the defence of Australia.80

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