Access and Denial in the Arabian Gulf

As the US military recalibrates to address the priorities contained in the 2012 defense strategic guidance, the conversation surrounding anti-access and area-denial threats has often been fixated on the Asia-Pacific region. However, US Central Command officials are keen to note that many of the same challenges are present in their area of responsibility, particularly in the Arabian Gulf concerning Iranian air and maritime threats. “Quite frankly, when you get a look at problems like countermine activities in the [Strait of Hormuz], many of those problems are here,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, CENTCOM’s deputy director of operations. “We’ve focused on these issues, particularly in the Gulf, ensuring we are leveraging ISR and building good surveillance practices and linking to fires,” he told the Daily Report in an Aug. 6 telephone interview. The Air Force and Navy are leveraging their strengths in different capabilities, and, more importantly, are practicing them with allies to figure out where the potential strengths and synergies lie. “It reads good on paper, but you’ve got to practice it,” said Harrigian. This is especially the case in places like the Gulf where distances between borders and territorial waters are significantly smaller than in the Western Pacific. In a crisis or any contingency in that space, he added, “reaction time is very significant—you have to move and think quickly.”