The Advantage of Moving First Versus a First-Mover Advantage

  • Lucía Martínez Ordóñez
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


In game theory, a player enjoys a first-mover advantage if he achieves a higher payoff by turning the game into a sequential one with him being the first mover, provided of course that the game can be changed in the first place. Leaving the proviso aside, once we are talking about tactics such a statement might sound obvious rather than revealing, though. Jensen (2015) argues that, if in a battle what can be seen can be hit, military actors should be primed for the offense, i.e. trying to make the first move by striking first. It holds true in particular in naval engagements and aerial dogfights, and obviously it is the lore told by countless Wild West movies: he who draws first wins.


Nash Equilibrium Dominant Strategy Sequential Game Aircraft Carrier Defense Budget 
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In game theory, a player enjoys a first-mover advantage if he achieves a higher payoff by turning the game into a sequential one with him being the first mover, provided of course that the game can be changed in the first place. Leaving the proviso aside, once we are talking about tactics such a statement might sound obvious rather than revealing, though. Jensen (2015) argues that, if in a battle what can be seen can be hit, military actors should be primed for the offense, i.e. trying to make the first move by striking first. It holds true in particular in naval engagements and aerial dogfights, and obviously it is the lore told by countless Wild West movies: he who draws first wins.

However, striking first can be considered advantageous from a broader point of view, too. Take for example so-called pre-emptive or preventive attacks. An attack is called pre-emptive, if a country assumes that an enemy is about to attack: by striking first, the enemy would—hopefully—deny the other party the ability to attack. A preventive attack, on the other hand, is used to counter less immediate threats. Both are sometimes considered to constitute self-defense actions (Mueller et al. 2006).

Although both pre-emptive and preventive attacks are based on the ability of striking first, they can be interpreted as defense strategies, and as such the act of defense per se suggests a second mover nature. In terms of offense vs. defense the question is which strategy, i.e. striking first or upholding enemy assaults, results in better outcomes. Jervis (1978) defines an offensive advantage as a situation where destroying and holding the enemy’s territory is easier than defending one’s own. On the other hand, a defensive advantage occurs if protecting and holding one’s territory is easier than moving forward. Quite often both technology and geography, i.e. terrain, are decisive factors for determining whether to find the advantage in the offense or in the defense (Jervis 1978, p. 187). Furthermore, historians have argued that it is the very nature of the kind of weapons that have been procured and the military technology that has been invested in that will determine the overall outcome. The more suited they are for offense purposes, the higher the likelihood of war will become, while if their primary use would be defense, the likelihood of war should decrease (Levy 1984, p. 219).

One cannot completely rely on technology, though, to distinguish between offensive and defensive measures, as often weapons can be used for both purposes. Moreover, it is rather the objectives than the means used that differentiate one from the other. Yet, Levy (1984) offers an interesting classification of the offensive/defensive balance of military technology over the last eight centuries. The supremacy of one over the other will depend largely on the developments in the conduct of warfare throughout history: siege tactics, the success of the longbow, the use of artillery or developments on the fortification’s construction have determined how periods with an offensive predominance alternated with those where the defense played a more important role. Levy’s analysis focuses on the attempts military historians and other authors made to identify the offense/defense balance of the 450 years preceding the end of WWII. He finds two periods adding up to a total of 55 years where there has been a consensus on a superiority of offensive strategies. On the other hand, the dominance of the defensive, also to be divided into two time periods, accounted for 130 years. The remaining 265 years remain unclassified because the diametric positions of the references taken into account prevent a consensus on its classification (Levy 1984, pp. 230–234). This study finds a historical trend in favor of the defensive. It is in line with many authors throughout the history of military thought, such as, e.g., Clausewitz who considered defense to be the form of warfare most likely to carry the victory.

However, being the first mover in a game-theoretic context is not equivalent to the military concept of moving first. Aside from offense/defense considerations, moving first in a military context is almost exclusively referred to as striking first, while in game theory we find other ways that can lead to a first mover position: either one actually anticipates the move of the other player or one manages to signal that there is no possibility to deviate from the commitment of the strategy announced.

The biggest difference, though, is that commonly in the military literature any advantage given by moving first is assumed to be an advantage that comes from creating a disadvantage for one’s enemy. However, as we have seen in Chap.  4, in quasi zero-sum games, i.e. the one kind of game where making oneself better off automatically implies that one’s opponent will be worse off, there can never exist a first-mover advantage. Thus, a game-theoretic first-mover advantage is only about making the game proceed along a path different from the one preferred by one’s opponent in order to make oneself better off, irrespective of whether this creates an advantage or a disadvantage for the enemy.

5.1 Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD)

A classical case where one has indeed to be quick to become a first mover, thereby enjoying a first-mover advantage, can be found in the field of Anti-Access/Area Denial, or A2/AD, the standard military acronym. Whenever a country tries to prevent its opponent to project power—in particular if that opponent has to be considered to be significantly superior in terms of both force and military capability—the best way would be to first try to prevent the enemy from getting access to the battle space (“Anti-Access”), and/or—if that has failed—to deny largely unrestricted movement within that battle space (“Area Denial”). This holds irrespective of whether the country employing an A2/AD strategy is the initiator of the conflict by, e.g., attacking its neighbors and trying to prevent that any country’s strong ally would rush to its help, or whether it finds itself on the receiving end of an opponent’s aggression.

Technology has enabled countries to develop measures which, in the event of a conflict, would hinder the deployment and movement of action of the enemy. While the purpose behind any A2/AD strategy is far from being new—it is obvious that every force in a conflict will do anything to deter the access and the ability to maneuver of any adversary—technology has, over the years, developed in such a way, that even states with modest defense budgets can obtain weapons that are precise enough to be used from large distances, deterring the access of any enemy and making A2/AD strategies a real challenge. The way wars are fought is directly linked to the technology available, and although technological advantage contributes to win wars, one can expect that sooner or later every technological advantage would be countered. The invention of gunpowder, for example, meant one of the most significant changes in warfare, but the capacity cannons had for destroying fortifications was quickly followed by a change in the fortifications’ architecture, which diminished their effectiveness (Keegan 1993, p. 321).

The sea has traditionally been regarded as the primary logistic means for military forces, making the command of the sea the cornerstone of naval strategy. Therefore any strategy aiming to deter A2/AD would have its roots in the art of naval strategy. Command of the sea, or in technical terms sea control, is exercised in three ways: by having the ability of attacking the enemy’s shipping and commerce, of striking targets ashore and by launching amphibious operations to land ground forces in the enemy’s territory.1 Although the theoretical concept of command of the sea was developed when the sea was the only global common,2 today, air, space and cyberspace have also become contested areas where naval strategies to sea control are put in use.

The first part of A2/AD, i.e. anti-access, illustrated by the ongoing situations in the China Seas, is to be discussed in more detail in Sect. 5.3. An example for the second case is the prelude to “Operation Sealion”, Germany’s attempt to launch an invasion of Britain in the second half of 1940, during the so-called “Battle of Britain”: by successfully denying the German Luftwaffe to freely access the air space over Britain, the Royal Air Force negated the one prerogative without which any attempt to invade would most likely have turned out disastrous for the aggressor, resulting in “Operation Sealion” being cancelled for good (see, e.g., Tangredi 2013 and McKinstry 2014). Most likely, though, it will be a maritime surrounding where an A2/AD situation should be expected to evolve in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, even though many technologies likely to be used will be very modern, one of the oldest to be found in naval warfare can still be expected to form part of it: we talk about mining.

5.2 Mining

The history of explosive mines goes back to the early fifteenth century, when Florentine agents placed an explosive charge in a passage in the walls surrounding the city of Pisa (Department of Doctrine and Training Development 1976, p. 133). The origin of naval mines can even be found almost a century earlier in China, where they were known as the “submarine dragon king” (Needham et al. 1986, pp. 203–207 and Turnbull 2002, p. 35). They have been routinely used since at least the American Civil War.

Assume now Red to be the country considering mining in order to prevent Blue to enter some maritime space. Further, it is assumed that Blue does not have a successful anti-mining strategy, i.e. there is no way to gain access, once mines have been laid, without unacceptable damage to its naval forces. Note, though, that mines, as they cannot differentiate between friend and foe, would, once laid, present a latent danger to friendly shipping, too.

Each country has two possible strategies: Red would have to decide whether to lay mines while Blue must decide, given the tensions between both countries, whether to try to secure access or refrain from doing so, leaving its ally to its fate. The terms ACCESS/REFRAIN and MINING/NO MINING will describe the respective strategies of Blue and Red. Then the payoff matrix will look as follows (Fig. 5.1).
Fig. 5.1

Payoff matrix for the mining model

Red would find that NO MINING would dominate over MINING. If Blue plays ACCESS, it implies that the mining strategy has not succeeded in deterring Blue forces but would instead just led to higher costs for both countries. On the other hand, if Blue plays REFRAIN, laying mines would not have been necessary but would have caused increased costs for Red, since it would have to remove the mines in order not to hinder its own shipping.

Red’s payoffs can thus be ranked as
$$\displaystyle{ R_{4}> R_{3}> R_{2}> R_{1}. }$$
Blue would naturally prefer to have a mine free access. The highest possible outcome would thus be found by playing ACCESS without facing any mines that would restrict their movement of action. In case Red has placed mines, Blue would be better off by playing REFRAIN. Summarizing, its payoffs are as follows:
$$\displaystyle{ B_{2}> B_{4}> B_{3}> B_{1}. }$$
The payoff distributions reveal that we are no longer dealing with a zero sum game, then as B4 > B3 and R4 > R3, a gain achieved by one player would not necessary result in a loss for the other one. A cell-by-cell inspection reveals that there exists a single Nash equilibrium in (ACCESS/NO MINING).

However, if we consider the nature of the two “aggressive” strategies available to each player, MINING and ACCESS respectively, it is obvious that they are extremely unlikely to happen at the same point in time, if merely for the fact that mining simply takes time. Red has to decide in advance whether to place mines or not, as otherwise, once Blue has managed to put its forces into position, mining would no longer work as deterrent. However, if Blue decides to play REFRAIN, there would not be a threat and Red would prefer to enjoy unlimited movements for its own naval forces and civilian shipping alike. Therefore MINING has to be played first, or not at all, as would ACCESS.

We therefore compare the two respective sequential games. If Red moves first (see Fig. 5.2) we find mining would work, inducing Blue to refrain and making the resulting outcome from playing MINING higher than the one when playing the dominant strategy.
Fig. 5.2

Game tree for the mining model

On the other hand, if Blue moves first, the outcome would be the same as in the simultaneous game, implying that Red, if compared to the outcome when moving first, would be worse off resulting in both a first-mover as well as a first-striker advantage because Red simply has to hurry in order to have its mines in place before Blue can contemplate whether or not to try to gain access.

A final point: It goes without saying that in war all payoffs would usually have to include random variables. Therefore, the ranking of both the B i as well as the R i refer to expected values and would not guarantee that some payoff has always to be larger than some other payoff. Interestingly, though, while the US employed mining to prevent German submarines from entering areas like the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast and the Florida keys, the policy immediately drew criticism once it took its toll on US merchantmen—and even one US destroyer—even though in all cases this was due to simple navigational errors. It led, however, to the abandonment to a minefield off Cape Hatteras on the North Carolina Outer Banks only for the area to become known as Torpedo Alley with more than 400 ships having been lost to German U-boat attacks due to the lack of any effective barrier against such attacks (Office of Naval History 1946, p. 116f).

Interestingly, the A2/AD scenario is equivalent to a strategy well known in industrial organization, namely “Raising Rivals’ Costs”, or RRC in short. It refers to strategies whose main purpose is to obtain a benefit from causing disadvantages to rivals in—both potentially as well as actual—competitive markets.

The idea goes back to Director and Levi (1956), who suggested that firms with monopoly power could impose coercive restrictions on suppliers and customers. Later, Williamson (1968) provided an example with the case of a coal company accused of conspiring with its workers’ union to raise the wage rate, showing how an industry-wide wage contract could affect labor-intensive firms more severely and force their exit while benefiting the capital-intensive competitor.3

In its most extreme form, RRC, though—and this the most illuminating example used in respective textbooks in economics—, would increase both the incumbent’s and any potential competitor’s cost in such a way that the competitor’s payoff from competing in the market would become negative and would thus prevent the competitor from entering the market in the first place, thus leaving the incumbent as the sole supplier. However, it comes at a cost, as the incumbent’s profit, while still being higher than a duopoly profit, would be reduced.4

The strategy would thus be dominated in the simultaneous game just the way NO MINING was dominated. In order for RRC to be successful, i.e. generate a first-mover advantage, it has to be played before any competitor has himself committed to market entry, because otherwise it would fail to maintain one’s monopoly status and would only make everyone worse off.

5.3 A2/AD and the China Seas: A Wider Perspective

Today, the most striking A2/AD example is given by China.5 On the one hand, China’s naval modernization signals its desire to develop a military force capable of deterring US naval and air forces in case a conflict about Taiwan’s sovereignty breaks out, and, on the other, the willingness to displace the US presence in the Pacific.6 China has increased its military budget for the fifth consecutive year.7 Even though, this should not be interpreted as exclusively related to the increasing tension about Taiwan, but also as a consequence of China’s economic development and the growing need of building a military force/presence responding to the expectations of any world power,8 China’s increasing military tension with the US over the last years can nevertheless not be ignored. Swaine (2015b) argues that this is a question of power dominance over the Western Pacific. After World War II, the US policy was based on both its leadership role as well as its dominant power, which in turn persuaded many (not just Pacific) nations to enter a military alliance with the US, which in turn formed the basis for a long-lasting period of peace and subsequent economic growth in many regions of the world. From the 1950s to the 1970s China was happy with the American dominance because it helped to offset the power of the Soviet Union and at the same time facilitated economic growth in its Asian neighbors, avoiding arms races and, at least for the time being, historical rivalries. However, China’s economic success, the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s fear that its regime could be the next to fall, ended the Chinese toleration of the US dominance of the Western Pacific (Swaine 2015a). The Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea recently peaked with China’s island-building project: while China claims that the islands are situated within its territory, its claims are based not only on archaeological finds but on the fact that no one had contested a document released by China in 1947 showing the infamous Nine-Dashed Line. This document has since not only been contested by a number of countries from the Philippines to Vietnam,9 but also contradicts the Convention of the High Seas as agreed on the 1958 United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS I, which was ratified by, at the time of writing, 63 countries including China.

China’s A2/AD strategies would consist of the procurement of the technology necessary to deter the access and freedom of movement in the China Seas. They include a number of measures, ranging from air bases and naval facilities to counter-maritime and counter-air systems, severely limiting US military freedom of action within the Pacific area. In order to be able to cope with these challenges, in July 2009 US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates introduced the operational concept of the so-called “Air Sea Battle”, or ASB. It aimed to employ means across all of the five domains—air, land, sea, space and cyberspace—to overcome the access and deployment obstacles imposed by A2/AD strategies. It was controversial, though, right from the start, as critics claimed it to be nothing more than a component of the DoD strategic mission to A2/AD threats,10 and in May 2013 even the ASB Office effectively acknowledged this critique by releasing an unclassified document defining ASB as “A limited objective concept that describes what is necessary for the joint force to sufficiently shape A2/AD environments to enable concurrent or follow-on power projection operations“ (Air-Sea Battle Office 2013). The original concept of ASB did not last long anyway, as the development of ASB in the past few years highlighted, among other things, the deficiencies of effectively relying on the Air Force and the Navy to counteract A2/AD. On January 2015 the Pentagon abandoned the name Air Sea Battle to introduce a new concept called “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons”, or JAM-GC, which includes not only the Air Force and the Navy, but also land forces.11 This new concept was presented as the development of the ASB and includes all new operational requirements that have emerged in the past 6 years. It can then be considered the command of the sea in the modern world (Armstrong 2015, p. 16).

Not surprisingly, Beijing has since expressed concerns over these countermeasures several times and described both ASB and JAM-GC as a provocation against the Chinese government (see, e.g., McCarthy 2010). One should note, however, that while the US constitutes the only adversary China has in mind when designing its A2/AD strategies, the US forces have to deal simultaneously with several adversaries around the world such as, e.g., Iran building A2/AD capabilities for future conflicts over control of the Strait of Hormuz.

Thus, as long as A2/AD strategies do not constitute an immediate threat, the implementation of countermeasures may depend on the distribution of priorities the force has among armed conflicts facing at a time. Following the Red and Blue nomenclature used before, and assuming that each force has two strategies available, which are to either build A2/AD and, respectively, counter A2/AD capabilities, or JAM-GC, or to maintain the status quo and remain passive, the resulting payoff matrix would be given in Fig. 5.3.
Fig. 5.3

Payoff matrix for A2/AD

We assume the ranking of the possible outcomes in such a scenario to be as follows: provided JAM-GC is affordable, Blue would prefer any situation where he can spare the threat of dealing with an A2/AD strategy, whether or not a military confrontation—and thus the need for access and maneuver capabilities—looms. In absence of an A2/AD challenge Blue would also be better off by the saving on JAM-GC expenditures. However, if A2/AD arises, Blue would prefer to count on having JAM-GC components in order to maintain its ability to project power. In short:
$$\displaystyle{ B_{4}> B_{2}> B_{1}> B_{3}. }$$
The best possible outcome for Red would be to enjoy the advantage of having A2/AD capabilities and no effective counter strategy having been put in place, followed by the status quo. In case Blue has adopted JAM-GC, the least Red would want is to allow riskless operational freedom for Blue. The resulting payoffs would thus be ranked
$$\displaystyle{ R_{3}> R_{4}> R_{1}> R_{2}. }$$

Again, i.e. just like mining—it would certainly form a part of A2/AD anyway—the game is a non-zero sum game, due to both B4 > B2 and R4 > R2 as a gain achieved by one player would no longer result in a loss for the other one.

Cell-by-cell inspection reveals that only Red has a dominant strategy—which is to build A2/AD12—and the existence of a Nash equilibrium with Red employing A2/AD and Blue going for JAM-GC to counter the A2/AD threats. Even if we assume Red and Blue being conservative in the sense of minimizing ones respective possible losses by using max-min strategies, we find “matched strategies” giving rise to the same solution as in the Nash equilibrium.

On the other hand, if we consider that any JAM-GC has to be interpreted as a reaction to an A2/AD threat, the game would have to be played sequentially with Red moving first. The corresponding rollback equilibrium is given in Fig. 5.4 resulting in an improvement for both players: Both players would maintain the status quo yielding payoffs of B4 and R4 rather than B1 and R1. In terms of game strategy, while the dominant strategy would not be played by the first mover—as was the case with the mining example—A2/AD would not be employed by Red, unlike mere mining.
Fig. 5.4

Game tree for A2/AD

Earlier, we have mentioned how improvements in technology enabled even nations with comparatively small defense budgets to acquire A2/AD capabilities. However, there are other factors contributing to the recent rise of such strategies. In particular, Chinese A2/AD strategies emerged at the same time US military forces were focused on both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In general, once the “strong” player has to deal simultaneously with the threat of having multiple adversaries all over the world, the weaker one might well be tempted to exploit the respective budgetary pressures and operational bottlenecks. The US would then have to take into account the likelihood of future conflicts and allocate respective funding, giving rise to further opportunity costs. In other words, as the resources are limited, at least in the short run, the US might need to allocate across both parallel and potential future conflicts.

To keep the analysis simple, we just assume two states of nature: either other threats are conceived by the US as sufficiently small and would not be considered a distraction when it comes to react to Chinese A2/AD policies, or other threats require a reallocation of military assets because they are needed more urgently elsewhere. The two cases would be distinguished by introducing a variable \(\Delta \geq 0\) to represent any eventual further opportunity cost of implementing JAM-GC to give (Fig. 5.5).
Fig. 5.5

Payoff matrix for A2/AD with opportunity costs

As long as \(\Delta <B_{1} - B_{3}\), the game is virtually the one discussed before: there exists a uniquely determined Nash equilibrium given by A2/AD and JAM-GC, respectively. If played sequentially, Red would begin by playing PASSIVE, with Blue reacting by choosing PASSIVE, too.

In order for other conflicts to have any impact, these opportunity costs have to be assumed to be sufficiently high to affect the ranking of B1 and B3, i.e. \(\Delta> B_{1} - B_{3}\). Now PASSIVE becomes a dominant strategy for Blue, yielding in turn a new equilibrium for both the simultaneous and the sequential version with Blue relinquishing JAM-GC and Red implementing A2/AD. Note, that irrespective of the state of nature, i.e. the magnitude of \(\Delta\), Blue would always play PASSIVE in the sequential game as long as Red knows about that state of nature. If not—Red could be incapable of collecting enough information about the magnitude of \(\Delta\), i.e. Blue’s ability to deal with conflicts and its perception of the respective threats—, the best Red can aspire to is to form an estimate on the probability p for \(\Delta\) being small, i.e. \(\Delta <B_{1} - B_{3}\), in order to compare the expected payoffs playing A2/AD and PASSIVE, i.e. if E(A2/AD) = p ⋅ R1 + (1 − p) ⋅ R3 and E(PASSIVE) = R4. If
$$\displaystyle{ p <\frac{R_{3} - R_{4}} {R_{3} - R_{1}}\text{,} }$$
Red would choose A2/AD, otherwise it would remain PASSIVE.13

Then, as Blue would always prefer Red to play PASSIVE, Blue should communicate the truth if \(\Delta\) is small, and it should try to coax Red into believing that \(\Delta\) is small even if it is not. Thus, the situation is equivalent to a classical signalling game. For \(\Delta\) being small the signalling costs should be close to or even exactly equal to zero—all Blue has to do is to invite Red’s military as observers to some respective exercise—implying it would always send a signal. If \(\Delta\) is large, the result would depend on the signalling costs of pretending to be able to fight two or more wars at the same time without one operation compromising the other: If the signalling costs are sufficiently large a separating equilibrium would ensue: It would not make sense for a “weak” Blue to pretend otherwise, and Red would remain PASSIVE if facing a “strong” Blue and employ A2/AD if facing a “weak” Blue. If a “weak” Blue’s signalling costs are small, the result depends on p: it would either, in the case of p being large, be a pooling equilibrium with the “weak” Blue successfully masquerading as a strong one, or, in the case of p being small, it would result in a semi-separating equilibrium, i.e. sometimes a “weak” Blue would pretend, and sometimes Red would go for A2/AD even if a signal indicating a “strong” Blue had been received.

Time plays an important role in the accuracy of Red’s predictions: the more time goes by, the better the information Red has for its estimations. And, in case \(\Delta\) is large, the more information Red can acquire and the more difficult it would become for Blue to pretend otherwise. Red could thus choose to simply wait until it is possible to make better estimations for \(\Delta\), thereby getting a better understanding of how likely it can expect Blue to invest in JAM-GC capabilities once Red has started to build A2/AD capabilities.

The one obvious advantage of not waiting would be to eliminate the risk of making wrong predictions. On the other hand, accepting the risk ensues the advantage of being able to use the first move for negotiation issues. Consider, for example, that Red gambles on the risk of underestimating Blue’s capabilities and begins with setting up A2/AD facilities. At best, its estimations are right and Red could thereby get a head start regarding its underlying expansion policies. At worst its estimations are wrong and Red would have to deal with JAM-GC strategies. As far as all these strategies do not imply the outbreak of a war or an insurrection, JAM-GC strategies would only mean that Red’s implementation of A2/AD would turn less useful than originally planned. It would result in a loss of investment, but these sunk costs would otherwise have no impact on further decisions by Red. On top of that, a similar if not much more expensive sunk cost would have been inflicted on Blue raising Blue’s future opportunity costs as well.

Furthermore, already having an extra asset—i.e. A2/AD—in place before any negotiations about underlying expansionist policies are to begin, could well change negotiation terms in favour of Red.

In the China Seas, the development of China’s A2/AD capabilities could thus be explained as both a result of China’s estimate of US goals and capabilities—in particular the assumption that the US has got its hands full with maintaining its superpower status—as well as against the background of China’s medium to long-term strategies. With respect to the former, note that p may even not only refer to US military capabilities, but to the willingness of the US to actually use it once China actually begins to expand and threaten or annex territories because JAM-GC might require pre-emptive attacks on Chinese mainland missile sites in order to eliminate the threat of any crippling attack against US aircraft carriers trying to enter the battle space. Then, the development of A2/AD capabilities might be interpreted as China having been tempted, rightly or wrongly, to believe that the US would lack the political will to enter into a war over sovereignty issues in either of the Chinese seas, and/or that US foreign policy has simply failed to send a clear message that there would indeed be a red line that must not be crossed.


  1. 1.

    In short sea control is exercised using the so-called three Bs: blockade, bombardment and boots on the ground (Armstrong 2015).

  2. 2.

    Global commons is used to refer to domains or areas that are not under the control of any state but on which all rely.

  3. 3.

    Salop and Scheffman also outlined the conceptual framework of raising rival’s costs to force market exit. See Salop and Scheffman (1983) and Salop and Scheffman (1987). Further literature on entry barriers based on increasing the costs of competitors can be found in Dixit (1979), and Rogerson (1984).

  4. 4.

    It is for this very reason that the strategy is called “raising rivals’ cost” rather than “raising rival’s cost”.

  5. 5.

    China itself does not use the term A2/AD but counter-intervention. See Fravel and Twomey (2015).

  6. 6.

    An evidence that the A2/AD strategy from China not only includes military objectives related to Taiwan would be China’s acquisition of aircraft carriers, which would not be needed in any Taiwan-only conflicts because Taiwan lies well within land-based Chinese aircraft. See Lovelace (2014, p. 167–168).

  7. 7.

    For 2015 it is expected that the military Budget will reach around &141,45 billion, 10,1% more than in 2014 (Gady 2015).

  8. 8.

    In 2010 China’s then foreign minister stated “China is a big country, and other countries are small countries, and that is just a fact.” Cited from Krepinevich (2015).

  9. 9.

    After a year of building artificial islands, China has recently announced the termination of the project. The end of this island building project can also be seen as an attempt to alleviate the tensions between the two countries on the verge of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), held in Washington in June 2015, and the first state visit of president Xi Jinping of China to the US in September 2015.

  10. 10.

    Some observers reported this new operational concept as a budgeting strategy to justify the investment in weapons programs for the Air force and the Navy in view of the Congressional hearings (Hoffman 2015).

  11. 11.

    For a wider explanation on the ASB concept development see Morris et al. (2015). Critics say, though, that JAM-GC is nothing but the old ASB, with merely some token land elements having been added in order to get the Army and the Marine Corps on board and avoid creating a picture of the different forces being at war with each other when it comes to persuading Congress to release the necessary funds (LaGrone 2015).

  12. 12.

    Unlike in the case where China’s A2/AD strategies consisted in mining, thus mining was dominated by no mining.

  13. 13.

    Otherwise, the game could not be solved.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucía Martínez Ordóñez
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsRuhr University BochumBochumGermany

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