Asset Publisher
Gray Zone and Red Lines: Assuring Allies and Avoiding Escalation in Asia

The premise of this study is that U.S. “red lines” may differ from those of our allies and partners in Asia. These differences undermine our ability to deter adversaries and assure our allies, while increasing the risk that we will be drawn into unwanted conflicts by one of our partners or allies. The potential for gaps is especially high in Asia's “gray zones.” Although many of these are found in contested maritime territories, Korea and Taiwan contingencies would present many of these same challenges, as adversaries opt for gradual escalation in order to exploit ambiguities in U.S. security commitments and drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies. The main purpose of this study is to identify gaps between U.S. redlines and those of our allies and partners in five gray zone situations that have the potential to escalate into broader military conflict. The overarching goal is to provide a firmer basis for calibrating U.S. naval actions in a way that effectively assures allies, deters adversaries, and prevents the escalation of irregular conflicts into outright war.
NPS Naval Research Program
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations