July 21, 2016

The US "Third Offset Strategy" overlaps with the SeaWeb Concept

The SeaWeb Network overlaps with other names such as Fixed Surveillance System (large PDF file - see pages 128-129). Older terms are IUSS and the most familiar (SOSUS). SeaWeb not only includes sonar, but LIDAR, LED, optical CCTV, motion-wake, infrared, chemical sniffing, radiation sensors and SIGINT amongst others. The revolution in sensor technology and big data management and storage has made SeaWeb a major unsung Western asset. (Diagram courtesy USN 2006). 

SeaWeb Concept
Different sounding military concepts are often very similar because of inter-service rivalries, different technical disciplines, different approaches, politics and new product packaging. It is notable that "Third Offset Strategy" is similar to the more naval aligned "SeaWeb" (frequently described by Submarine Matter's) ie. advanced sea orientated sensor platforms, big data and targeting. 

Japan, with its financial and high-tech resources, is a foundation participant with the US in the northwest Pacific SeaWeb branch. South Korea works with the US in a smaller branch network, which can be conceptualised as part of South Korea's Kill Chain strategy and infrastructure.

Major targets for the US, Japan and South Korea are Russian, Chinese and North Korean submarines. SeaWeb is being fine-tuned with more sensitive sensors to track enemy UUVs (smaller, quieter than subs and having the advantage of being expendable). 

Third Offset Concept 
Here's a great article by Steven Stashwick, appearing in The Diplomat, on July 21, 2016

...China is well on its way to “offsetting” the U.S. “second offset” technologies and concepts that spooked it in the 1990s. In response, the U.S. is already working on a third offset to counter China’s anti-access/area denial capabilities... 

Also see this fine Australian discussion of "The third offset".

The invaluable Wiki advises:

"An offset is some means of asymmetrically compensating for a disadvantage, particularly in a military competition. Rather than match an opponent in an unfavorable competition, changing the competition to more favorable footing enables the application of strengths to a problem that is otherwise either unwinnable or winnable only at unacceptable cost....The U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Initiative was announced in November 2014.[5] A core component of the initiative...will purportedly target several promising technology areas, including robotics and system autonomy, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing, while also seeking to improve the U.S. military's collaboration with innovative private sector enterprises.[6]

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments released a report outlining the potential components of a Third Offset Strategy in October 2014, shortly before Secretary Hagel's announcement. The report emphasizes the development of next-generation power projection platforms like unmanned autonomous strike aircraft, the acceleration of the [B-21] LRS-B, additional investments in undersea warfare systems like Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, and steps to reduce U.S. and partner vulnerability to the loss of space-based communications.[7]"

Not to be outdone China and Russia have had their own SeaWeb networks for decades. Both nations are jointly developing increasingly sensitive and extensive networks, particularly in the Sea of Japan. If the pink submarine (in the diagram above) is a daring Western submarine moving within X kms of the Chinese coast - things may not end well. Chinese undersea SeaWeb sensors may alert (lightweight torpedo carrying) YU-8 anti submarine rocket batteries or CY-2 cruise missile batteries that the sub is encroaching where it shouldn't and is in range. Also Chinese smart and mobile seafloor mines, sown among the sensors, are another threat. The diagram above is on page 16 of American ex-submariner, Bryan Clark’s important paper The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare, January 22, 2015.

So, depending on your interests, Third Offset Strategy or SeaWeb has the most resonance.


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