Overblog
Suivre ce blog
Editer l'article Administration Créer mon blog
26 septembre 2013 4 26 /09 /septembre /2013 11:35
Will Asian Drones Make Conflict More or Less Likely?

September 26, 2013 By  James R. Holmes - The Naval Diplomat

 

Those intellectual swashbucklers from the Center for a New American Security are at it again, this time with an essay over at Foreign Policy detailing the dangers likely to accompany drone operations in Asia. Precipitating their commentary was China's first deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Senkaku Islands. The overflight took place earlier this month, timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Tokyo's nationalization of the archipelago. (So much for Chinese subtlety.) This, they conclude, launches Asia into a brave new world where unmanned aircraft could escalate minor encounters into major conflagrations. Read the whole thing.

 

I have few quibbles about the CNAS crew's appraisal of the problem. Asia and the international community are indeed entering into undiscovered territory as UAVs of various sizes, shapes, and purposes proliferate in Asian skies. But if I had to comment — and you know I do — here are some rambling thoughts I might add.

 

First, the Clausewitzian formula with which I endlessly torment Naval Diplomat readers — that the value a competitor places on its political goals determines how much effort it puts into obtaining those goals — has ominous overtones in Asia. Effort is a multiple of two factors. One, there's "magnitude," meaning the rate at which a competitor expends resources on behalf of its political objectives. Then, there’s "duration," or how long that rate of expenditure must be sustained to attain the objectives. Multiply the rate at which you expend lives, treasure, and hardware by the total amount of time you expend these resources, and bingo — the result is the total effort spent.

 

How do UAVs figure in? Drones are cheap. And since they carry no pilots, they're expendable by contrast with manned tactical aircraft. The magnitude of any effort harnessing UAVs appears small as a consequence. The Clausewitzian calculus suggests that such a low-cost, low-risk endeavor can go on more or less forever, even if it commands only middling importance for policymakers. For an adversary, similarly, the psychological barrier against bringing down an intruding UAV may be lower than that against bringing down a conventional aircraft. No enemy airmen will have perished. How this dynamic would play out between two militaries that dispatch combat-capable UAVs into contested airspace remains to be seen. Would this be an automated war-by-proxy? What happens when two Skynets meet?

 

Second, there's an asymmetry to how competitors may view drone operations. What looks like routine military reconnaissance to the side operating UAVs may look like aggression to an antagonist if a flight passes over the wrong place on the map. If so, innocuous-seeming activities could appear to menace one's sovereignty or homeland — top priorities for any government. The value of the object of self-protection would spike — warranting the utmost defensive measures and, perhaps, escalating a minor encounter out of all proportion to the stakes.

 

Third, many of the pixels spent on the strategic setting in Asia, mine included, describe the plight of surface forces on the high seas or in port. The ocean's surface is a menacing place, whether you're sitting pretty in an Aegis destroyer or lumbering along in a logistics ship or amphibious transport. You're visible to enemy sensors and thus vulnerable to enemy weaponry. But radically different threat environments are coming into being along the z-axis, below and above the surface. Submarines lurk beneath the waves in increasing numbers, fielded by more and more navies. Detecting, targeting, and sinking this elusive foe is an undertaking of immense scope and complexity.

 

Drones pose the opposite problem from submarine proliferation. Rather than striking unseen, they're relatively straightforward to detect. Hence the Sino-Japanese incident over the Senkakus. But what do you do once you've detected an unmanned aircraft in airspace you claim? Send out combat planes to escort it away? Its operators may say no. In effect they dare you to escalate. You can either lodge a diplomatic protest, which could prove ineffectual, or act forcefully to remove the threat. If the side dispatching the UAV is stronger militarily, you will have been maneuvered into a conflict in which you're outmatched. Your prospects appear grim.

 

For Beijing, the logic of UAV operations resembles the logic of "small-stick diplomacy." The unmanned aircraft is like a fishing vessel exercising its right to ply its trade in sovereign waters, or an unarmed maritime enforcement ship patrolling those waters. It appears inoffensive, yet it's there. Refrain from acting, and you've let an opponent establish a presence — a stepping stone to control — on disputed ground. Act, and you justify countermeasures from a stronger adversary that can portray itself as the aggrieved party.

 

A tough problem, aloft as at sea. Understanding is the first step toward wisdom — and effective countermeasures.

Partager cet article

commentaires

Présentation

  • : RP Defense
  • RP Defense
  • : Web review defence industry - Revue du web industrie de défense - company information - news in France, Europe and elsewhere ...
  • Contact

Recherche

Articles Récents

  • Externalisation de la Défense et de la Sécurité en France ? - 15 Décembre
    Le Comité directeur de l'ANAJ-IHEDN a le plaisir de vous inviter à la conférence : Vers une externalisation de la Défense et de la Sécurité en France ? Guillaume FARDE Maître de conférences à Sciences Po Paris, auteur de Externaliser la sécurité et la...
  • Chronique culturelle - 24 Nov.
    24 novembre 1977 : premier vol du Super Etendard de série 24.11.2016 source JFP 24 novembre 885 : début du siège de Paris par les Vikings. Très actifs durant le IXè siècle, les Vikings ont pris l’habitude de remonter les fleuves du Nord de la France pour...
  • Sortie en librairie le 21 novembre du livre LÉGIONNAIRE
    source MAREUIL EDITIONS Pour la première fois, un ancien officier de la Légion et un Légionnaire donnent la parole à 64 de leurs camarades. Pendant 2 ans, Victor Ferreira a rencontré près d’une centaine de Légionnaires à travers le monde en leur posant...
  • Brazilian Navy H225M Naval Combat Configuration
    17 nov. 2016 Airbus Helicopters Helibras and Airbus Helicopters have opened a new chapter in the history of the H225M multirole utility helicopter with the official presentation of the first aircraft in naval combat configuration. More info Helibras and...
  • Chronique culturelle - 17 Nov.
    La Bataille du Pont d'Arcole - Horace Vernet 17.11.2016 source JFP 17 novembre 1794 : début de la bataille de la Sierra Negra (Espagne) « opposant les troupes des généraux de Pérignon et Dugommier à celles du général espagnol de Carvajal. Cette victoire...
  • Le CEAM présente le CEILDT - Centre d’Expertise et d’Instruction des Liaisons de Données Tactiques
    15 nov. 2016 CEAM Petit clip de présentation sur le Centre d’Expertise et d’Instruction des Liaisons de Données Tactiques (CEILDT). Petit clip de présentation sur le Centre d'Expertise et d'Instruction des Liaisons de Données Tactiques (CEILDT).
  • Audition de M. Marwan Lahoud, président du groupement des industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales
    photo Aseemblée Nationale 9 novembre 2016 Commission de la défense nationale et des forces armées - Compte rendu n° 15 Présidence de Mme Patricia Adam, présidente — Audition, ouverte à la presse, de M. Marwan Lahoud, président du groupement des industries...
  • Chronique culturelle - 15 Nov.
    Jean Gabin, chef de char du Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins 15.11.2016 source JFP 15 novembre 1315 : bataille de Morgarten (Suisse actuelle). Convoités à la fois par la Bavière et l'Autriche, les Cantons suisses (Uri, Schwytz et Unterwald) donnent...
  • Chammal : les artilleurs appuient les forces irakiennes
    10 nov. 2016 Ministère de la Défense Opération Chammal : les artilleurs de la Task Force Wagram appuient les forces irakiennes et participent à la sécurisation des zones conquises aux alentours de Mossoul. Opération Chammal : les artilleurs de la Task...
  • Chronique culturelle - 10 Nov.
    La bataille de Tolbiac, toile marouflée, Panthéon de Paris, France - Joseph Blanc (1846-1904) 10.11.2016 source JFP 10 novembre 496 : bataille de Tolbiac (Zulpich - Allemagne actuelle). Le roi Clovis écrase les Alamans près de l'actuelle ville de Cologne...

Categories