Watching the Competition

The Air Force works hard to keep tabs on the capabilities of competitors such as China, said Air Combat Command boss Gen. Michael Hostage. Speaking during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force event in Arlington, Va., Hostage said USAF is more “circumspect” about publishing and disseminating these assessments due to advances in technology, which make compartmentalizing difficult. However, Hostage said USAF has a robust “red team” that tracks Chinese assessments of US capability, as well as what others think are US strengths and weaknesses. These include tracking China’s People’s Liberation Army activities in the western Pacific, around the air defense identification zone declared in November 2013, and other areas, and then determining what “they think we’re capable of,” Hostage said. Asked about criticism of the AirSea Battle concept and its focus on air and sea operations, Hostage said it matters little what the concept is called. The problem set of anti-access and area-denial scenarios is one that affects the whole US military, and not just forces in the Pacific. Hostage noted after he left Air Forces Central Command in 2011, he and the naval component commander briefed their cooperative activities in the Arabian Gulf to USAF’s “warfighter talks,” to help inform future A2/AD concepts.