Anti-Access/Area Denial Isn’t Just for Asia Anymore

Julianne Smith

Center for a New American Security

Julianne Smith is Senior Fellow and Director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program at the Center for a New American Security and a Senior Vice President at Beacon Global Strategies LLC. She is a member of AICGS' Board of Trustees.

If there’s one set of foreign military capabilities that has garnered U.S. attention in recent years, it’s those related to anti-access and area denial. Even the most acronym-constrained policymakers regularly cite A2/AD and its challenge to American power projection in the western Pacific. And with good reason: China’s investments in ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, air defenses and counter-maritime forces have focused military minds on the East Asian littoral’s increasingly contested nature, and on ways in which the United States and its allies might overcome the growing challenges.

Anti-access is, however, not merely an Asian affair. While Washington continues its rebalance to the Pacific, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has dragged the U.S. back to Europe and to a renewed focus on the continent’s attendant security threats. As NATO and Pentagon planners begin to envision the previously unimaginable – conflict with Russia in Europe’s east – they must focus on Moscow’s growing A2/AD capabilities and strategies and move quickly to apply the lessons from Asia. Russia’s ability to contest the landmass in Europe’s east may actually exceed China’s capacity to keep American forces away from thousands of miles of coastline.

The original text of this article was published by Defense One on April 2, 2015. Read more here.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.