Monday, June 29, 2015

Better Defenses Change Nature of Precision Strike Warfare

Better Defenses Change Nature of Precision Strike Warfare: Over the past quarter century, precision guided munitions (PGMs) such as laser-guided bombs and cruise missiles have become the weapons of choice for the US military, providing a high degree of accuracy while avoiding widespread collateral damage.

And while the US and its allies have often benefited from operating in combat areas where opponents lack heavy and effective defenses, those days are coming to an end, experts are warning. The US needs to develop new operational concepts to maintain its precision strike advantage in the face of increasingly effective countermeasures.

"Big state powers like Russia and China are catching up," warned Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work. "This is going to require a fundamental rethinking of how the joint force operates."

Work is overseeing an effort to develop new "offset" strategies — tactics and weapons that can offset an opponent's abilities.

"The first thing on any offset policy is to have a demonstrated capability to win the emerging guided munitions salvo competition," Work said June 22, speaking to a Rand Corp. audience in Washington. "That is job number one. This demonstrated ability to win this competition will underwrite our conventional deterrence in the 21st century, and if we don't have it, we are going to be faced with a lot of problems that we do not want to face."

He pointed out that current PGM countermeasures are simply too costly, which is why the Pentagon is investing in the research and development of cheaper alternatives, such as directed energy or electromagnetic railguns.