After having spent its first year in office trying to enlist China into a “comprehensive partnership” of shared leadership to solve global challenges, in 2010 the administration of President Barack Obama received a series of jolts from Beijing, which, along with a growing chorus of concern from Washington’s friends in Asia, promoted what in late 2011 the administration started calling a “pivot” or “rebalancing” of US strategy toward Asia. A parallel US Department of Defense (DoD) strategy shift began before the Obama administration with the 2003–2005 gathering consensus that China was largely pursuing an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy designed to prevent US forces from thwarting Chinese ambitions such as forcing “reunification” with Taiwan and imposing control over the South China Sea. At an institutional level, DoD’s response was signified by the November 2011 establishment of the Air-Sea Battle Office, which ostensibly would seek to craft joint-service solutions to anti-access threats, with care taken to announce it was not directed specifically at China, though meeting a Chinese level of challenge was the measure for success.
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