US war strategy 'targets China' THE American government might like to deny it, but Barack Obama's former intelligence chief has confirmed China is a principal target of a major US war plan. Most worryingly the plan - known in Washington as Air-Sea Battle - is one that regional defence expert Professor Hugh White says is strategically flawed and risks escalating a US-China struggle to the level of nuclear strikes. It is also a plan that is known to anger the Chinese military, and the confirmation will likely be viewed with displeasure in Beijing. The confirmation was provided by Admiral Dennis Blair, an Asia expert who until 2010 was Mr Obama's director of national intelligence. Prior to that he commanded the US Pacific Command, which represents about a fifth of the US military machine. His answers were in response to questions posed by The Age about Air-Sea Battle, a Pentagon strategy designed to knock out an enemy's long-range surveillance radar and precision missiles, followed by a blistering air and sea assault. When asked directly about Air-Sea Battle and whether it directly relates to China, Admiral Blair said: ''I'm not in the Pentagon any more, so I can't say [what] that [is] in particular, but it doesn't take any classified piece of information to let you know that countries like Iran and China â€¦ have taken advantage of technology in terms of submarines and missiles to be able to keep US maritime and air forces at distance.'' As a result, he said, it was the job of US military commanders to ''figure out ways that we can send our forces to conduct military operations despite these sorts of threats''. It is widely understood that Iran would pose very little threat to a full-scale US military campaign, and Air-Sea Battle is unofficially acknowledged in Washington as the central tenet of US plans to deal with an aggressive and heavily armed China. ''I don't doubt for a moment â€¦ that the real target of the Air-Sea Battle is China,'' said Professor White, the author of a book on the US-China relationship, The China Choice. Professor White is also a strong critic of Air-Sea Battle, which he says has three fundamental problems. ''Firstly, I don't think it will work; second, even it it does work operationally it won't achieve its strategic aims; and thirdly it runs a very strong sense of escalating to a nuclear war.'' Professor White believes the concept is also a 20th-century concept that is being repackaged for a 21st-century enemy. ''The US has always done sea control in the Pacific, but what's changed? The enemy has changed. And he has a boat, as they say,'' Professor White said. Admiral Blair also believes it is an old plan repackaged. 'The concept is nothing new, in typical American fashion we often pour the old wine into new bottles with fancy new labels,'' he told The Age. ''But the navy and air force co-operating to be able to get to our allies that are within range of Chinese missiles is nothing new, and most Americans expect that to be their job.'' Read more: US war strategy 'targets China'