Shaping a Pacific Strategy V

Russia's Pacific and Arctic interests will become increasingly significant. (Credit: Bigstock)

10/17/2011 – A new approach to Pacific strategy would be built around presence assets, linked together to provide for scalable force.  Building presence is not just about what the US does and can do.  It is as well about working with allies and partners. But do so requires presence, linkages and connectivity. By shaping a connectivity enterprise, a honeycombed force can be built around scalable forces.

This approach is not built simply to deal with high-end threats but to operate across the spectrum of tasks necessary to provide for security and defense in the Pacific. In effect, one would look at a recent set of developments between the 12th USAF and the Dominican Republic and apply lessons learned to the Pacific.

Shaping a Grid to Shape a Hi-Low Mix (Credit Image: Bigstock)
Shaping a Grid to Shape a Hi-Low Mix (Credit Image: Bigstock)

A tremendous and unnoticed US Air Force victory is being won right off the shores of America.  And this victory highlights the impact of a Hi-Lo mix of technology.

“Brazilian planes silence Dominican critics”

The mere presence of the Brazilian-made intercept planes and alerts by U.S. air surveillance on radar blips over the airspace have virtually halted all drug airdrops in Dominican Republic.

Traditionally, the concept of a “Hi-Lo” mix is in reference to Aircraft—but the 12th Air Force is rewriting that idea and showing the world new and successful con-ops.

The 12th Air Force is known as the “Doolittle Raiders” and just like the great “30 Seconds over Tokyo” raid by Col Doolittle’s legacy, it is in capable hands.

However, this time they are supporting U.S. national security objectives much closer to home. The “Doolittle Raiders” are part of the mission espoused in the vision statement made by the US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

We are a joint and interagency organization supporting U.S. national security interests, and with our partners, fostering security, stability and prosperity in the Americas.

The 12th is supporting nations just off our shore and recently held a U.S. Air Power demonstration in celebration of 100 years of aviation in the Dominican Republic.

Unheralded success has just been achieved by this partnership between SOUTHCOM and the Dominican Republic Air Force flying the Embraer Air Super Tucano. This remarkable and replicable success is made possible by U.S. “Hi” ISR technology in partnership with the Dominican Republic “Lo” technology the Super Tucano.

It has not been widely reported that this war against drug barons is being won in the sky.

Although drug money is unrelenting in finding ways to supply their corrosive product for now in the war against narco-criminials and terrorist this is a huge accomplishment, and the opening headline from Dominican Today quoted above says it all.

Along with the success in Dom Rep, the Colombian AF is wining the fight against the FARC with sensors and shooters—again the Super Tucano.

Consequently, this “Hi-Lo” mix is beginning to look like a winning formula for world wide partnerships between the U.S. and other nations by using American C4ISR that can give hot vectors in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground mission to a Light Armed Attack Aircraft (LAAR) like the Super Tucano. (See also

Worldwide possibilities are abundant: Indonesia, Afghanistan and hopefully some day back to the Philippines. There is no need for “Hi” U.S. tactical aircraft — just “Hi” American platform censors — and the “Lo” capabilities of the Super Tucano which is battle tested and perfect for the mission.

When thinking about the way ahead in the Pacific, we should consider that shaping a hi-low mix for the spectrum of operations can be facilitated by shaping a much more collaborative ISR enterprise in the Pacific.  As the US re-shapes its military space capabilities, by leveraging in part the revolution in use of commercial hoisted payloads, we can take forward the capability of sharing information.

In other words, re-shaping the global ISR enterprise towards collaboration and coalition capability can facilitate COIN and security operations in the Pacific. And as the US deploys new aircraft aboard the amphibious ready group (ARG), another new capability displayed by the F-35B, namely 360 degree ISR over hundreds of miles, makes the F-35B its own high-low mix available to support allies across the spectrum of operations.

Indeed, in thinking about an ISR enterprise across the Pacific, land-based and sea-based air is a key facilitator.  And dependent upon the situation, space-based and other air breathing assets can be key contributors as well.  The challenge will be to ensure that data can flow but not be excessively constrained by intelligence limitations inappropriate to getting joint action.

This article is a contribution to the Strategic Whiteboard