THE END OF THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR & THE PATH FOR THE UNITED STATES TO RECLAIM INFLUENCE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC
Hoffmann, Justin James
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In the past two decades the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed and implemented a strategy to nullify the United States’ military influence in the Indo-Pacific region. By establishing a network of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) systems in the South China Sea, China has effectively neutralized the United States’ most powerful and technologically-laden platforms. In doing so, they have degraded America’s ability to project power in the air and at sea. As a result, the credibility of American conventional deterrence is in question in the region. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have designed a means of countering China’s active defense in the South China Sea—Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). However, the efficacy of EABO as a deterrent is closely linked to security cooperation relationships with partner nations throughout the Indo-Pacific. This study begins by examining the nature of the threat in the South China Sea, its effect on current U.S. strategy, and outlines the requirements to facilitate EABO. It then proceeds to evaluate the state of U.S. security cooperation relationships of eight critical countries in the region, which are necessary to effectively utilize EABO as means of deterrence against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The results of the study suggest that while the United States has varying degrees of security cooperation relationships, the vast majority fall short of what is necessary to implement EABO as a deterrent. The study concludes with policy suggestions and strategic considerations for the future.