Nonstate Actors and Anti-Access/Area Denial Strategies: The Coming Challenge

This monograph explores the emerging challenge of nonstate actors’ anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) strategies and their implications for the United States and its allies by looking at two regions, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, with case studies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen, and separatist groups in Ukraine.

The historical monopoly of states over precision-guided munitions has eroded, and this evolution eventually challenges the ability of the most advanced militaries to operate in specific environments. As they gain greater access to advanced military technology, some nonstate actors increasingly lean toward A2/AD strategies. The study underlines three key parameters to assess these emerging nonstate A2/AD strategies:

* a political shift toward the preservation of status quo vis-à-vis opponents;

*a focus of military resources dedicated to A2/AD capabilities—primarily missiles and rockets; and

*the adaptation of military units responsible for the implementation of this new strategy.

The development of nonstate A2/AD postures currently remains dependent on the ability of the nonstate actors to attract state sponsorship. Without state sponsorship, these emerging nonstate A2/AD strategies would hardly constitute a major threat. Bearing this precondition in mind, if a scenario of multiple nonstate A2/AD “bubbles” were to unfold, the United States and its allies could face unprecedented challenges, especially in the field of counterterrorism campaigns. This study was produced by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. Purchase this volume