A Deeper Partnership
AirSea Battle could improve future cooperation
between Navy and Air Force, but some have doubts
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
Corps entered the discussions in
January and will conduct one of the
first tests of the concept early next
year, during Bold Alligator 2012, a
large-scale, multinational naval amphibious exercise conducted by
U.S. Fleet Forces and Marine
The Navy has not been eager to
discuss specifics of the plan before its
completion. In an e-mail response to
questions on the concept from
Seapower, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr.
Justin Cole would only provide basic
information on the service’s efforts.
“The Navy has a number of offices
that exist within the [Office of the Chief of Naval
Operations] staff who deal with bilateral relationships and
issues of mutual interests with a number of countries,”
Cole said. “The Navy has been working closely with our
counterparts in the other services and combatant com-
manders to better integrate existing 21st century capabili-
ties across the air, land, maritime, space and cyberspace
domains to meet [Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’]
requirements. This is a work in progress and, unfortunate-
ly, I have nothing further to share at this time.”
Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), an inde-
pendent, nonprofit public policy research institute in
Washington, told Seapower it is a “very good sign” that
the Navy and Air Force are seeking to draft such a
framework, and the services appear serious about push-
ing forward with the effort.
“I don’t think this is going to be wishy-washy,
because they’re actually beginning to apply it to exercises,” Gunzinger said.
He said the services decided to get together and pursue a concept well before Gates directed them to do it.
Gates retired in mid-June and has been succeeded by
former CIA chief Leon Panetta.
The U.S. Air Force and Navy are drafting the AirSea Battle
Concept, which will establish a framework for how the two services
will address the anti-access/area-denial environment.
■ The Marine Corps entered the discussions in January and will
conduct one of the first tests of the concept early next year.
■ One analyst called it a “very good sign” that the Navy and Air
Force are seeking to draft such a framework.
■ Another analyst, however, said there are “very few areas”
where AirSea Battle could provide some benefit to the Navy.
For decades, the U.S. Air Force and Navy have played complementary roles, leveraging each other’s common assets and capabilities. Now,
the services are working feverishly to define how they
will approach future wars together, and they will test
that concept in upcoming war games and exercises.
The services have been working this year to complete
a draft of the concept, known as AirSea Battle, that will
provide a framework for how the Navy and Air Force
will tackle 200 initiatives the services have defined.
Since the AirSea Battle Concept is still under review
at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, details of the
Air Force’s involvement are not available. However,
Maj. Allison Black, secretary of the Air Force public
affairs operations communications team chief, noted
that the concept describes a unified approach between
the departments of the Air Force and Navy to address
the evolving anti-access/area-denial environment.
“The AirSea Battle operational construct is both a
natural and deliberate evolution of U.S. power projection and a key supporting component of U.S. national
security strategy for the 21st century,” she said.
The effort has not been around long, and some major
players have only recently gotten onboard. The Marine