March 31, 2021 | War on the Rocks

Listen to America’s top Commander in the Indo-Pacific and Fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative

March 31, 2021 | War on the Rocks

Listen to America’s top Commander in the Indo-Pacific and Fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative

Excerpt

In his final appearance before the congressional armed services committees, the outgoing top American commander in the Pacific warned this month that a failure to devote additional military resources to the region risks inviting aggression from the People’s Republic of China. In a comment that should make Americans sit up and pay attention, Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, suggested that Beijing could attempt to attack Taiwan “in the next six years.”

To deter such aggression, Washington should fully support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a congressionally driven effort to ensure that Indo-Pacific Command has the capabilities it needs. More specifically, the Joe Biden administration should request, and Congress should provide, the authorizations and funding necessary to provide the additional region-specific resources detailed in Indo-Pacific Command’s annual Section 1251 Assessment. This assessment provides Congress an unfiltered picture of what the command closest to the threat from China needs.

One might assume supporting such an urgent request from the American commander closest to the most pressing threat would be a no-brainer. Decision-makers in the Pentagon, admittedly, confront the unenviable task of balancing finite resources with a plethora of expensive requests from all of the geographic combatant commands. Given the severity of the threat from Beijing, however, one might assume urgent and repeated requests coming from the Indo-Pacific would carry more weight in Washington.

Mark Montgomery is the senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Prior to this, he was policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee under the late Sen. John S. McCain and is a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCMontgomery.

Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). He spent nearly nine years working in the U.S. Senate, including six years as the top defense advisor to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, then the senior Republican on the Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee. He has also served as a U.S. Army officer, Black Hawk pilot, and assistant professor at West Point. Follow him on Twitter @Brad_L_Bowman. FDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues.

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Issues:

China Indo-Pacific Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy