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Activity title

Analysis of Anti-Access Area Denial (A2/AD)

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System Analysis and Studies

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A2AD, AntiAccess, Area Denial, Contested Environments


As of 2014, we have returned to a situation where a major war in or around Europe cannot be ruled out. The postures of NATO itself, the Allies and their European partners still largely reflect the earlier, peaceful, situation. The dearth of forward-deployed forces means that the Alliance would be very dependent on early reinforcement of threatened Allies in a crisis or in a war, and on power-projection by long-range forces stationed elsewhere. These operations may be threatened by adversary Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Anti-access capabilities are usually long-range capabilities designed to prevent or degrade an advancing enemy’s ability to enter an operational area. Area denial capabilities are designed to limit his freedom of action within the operational area. Currently, potential adversaries are fielding a seemingly impressive array of long-range A2/AD systems that could interfere with the Alliance’s ability to reinforce, resupply and defend exposed Allies and to conduct operations.


The overall purpose is to assess challenges posed by modern A2/AD capabilities and identify potential solutions, in order to inform Allies and partners about changes that might be necessary to operate in A2/AD contested environments. In order to meet this purpose the RTG will: - Make a survey of current A2/AD capabilities and those under development relevant to regions of importance to the Alliance. These A2/AD capabilities will be studied according to their technical and tactical/operational characteristics, highlighting their strong and weak points, and delineating how an A2/AD effect chains might look like; - Make estimates of the potential consequences of such capacities for allied (and partners) freedom of movement, operations and logistics; - Explore the possibilities for reducing or eliminating the threat to Alliance freedom of movement, operations and logistics posed by such systems, today and in the future, by application of existing technical, tactical, operational and strategic means; - Explore the potential for achieving similar effects by the application of new technical, tactical, operational and strategic means, highlighting those that seem especially promising.


- Modern A2/AD systems, their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, deployment domains, technical characteristics, employment, the nature of and the links in the effect chains. - The potential for mitigating the A2/AD-problem by application or adaptation of existing – but perhaps forgotten or disused - technical, tactical, operational and strategic means, such as flying at lower levels, the use of ECM, SEAD-procedures, decoys, forward basing, camouflage, artillery and special forces, or by adapting operational concepts or plans, or posture; - The potential for achieving additional effects on A2/AD-capabilities by new means and on possible ways of interfering with enemy effect chains, such as blinding sensors, swarms of cheap drones, interfering with data links, etc. - The potential for improved Allied and partner resolve and cohesion, enhanced deterrence, and strategic communications as a means to address the challenges posed by adversary A2/AD capabilities.

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