By Michal Thim
Asymmetry is the new black, at least among defense analysts dealing with the Asia-Pacific. Asymmetrical warfare is an age-old concept. Recently, however, it has been mostly associated with insurgent groups or guerrillas capitalizing on their familiarity with irregular terrain in hit-and-run operations against regular government forces. As employed by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Irish Republican Army, asymmetrical strategies and tactics were ideally suited to small groups standing against well-equipped government forces in their efforts to pursue a particular political agenda.
In the Asia-Pacific region, asymmetry is more commonly associated with the military disparities between nations. It is often expressed as the concept of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD), which is primarily referenced in relation to preparations by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to prevent access—and consequently deny unhindered operation—to the US Navy and America’s other forward-deployed forces stationed in Japan. Decades of Chinese military modernization has given the PRC the capability to project force a much greater distance from its shores, with an eye toward eventually deploying a blue-water navy. Despite this, A2/AD remains at the forefront of China’s efforts to establish itself as a potent military power.