Demystifying the A2/AD Buzz

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February 27, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: February 27 on

Anti-access and area denial — best known by its shorthand A2/AD — has crossed the buzzword threshold. It’s a quite impressive feat for such a distinctively non-user friendly and technical concept, which alludes to that family of military capabilities used to prevent or constrain the deployment of opposing forces into a given theater of operations and reduce their freedom of maneuver once in a theater. A2/AD has found its way into strategic debates on the Middle East and Europe. Its ride in Europe has been particularly impressive, having become part of NATO jargon in a relatively short time span. This is hardly surprising. After all, Russian advances in A2/AD seem to challenge NATO’s erstwhile assumption that Moscow could be deterred by a readiness-only approach that ensured allied troops would be in a position to move swiftly from North America and western Europe into the eastern European front. But what goes around comes around, or so the saying goes. Fame and criticism often go hand in hand and, like most buzzwords, A2/AD has come under intense fire. U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson recently argued that the U.S. Navy should stop using the term A2/AD.