July 29, 2021 | War on the Rocks

Fully Fund The Guam Defense System


The Biden administration talks tough when it comes to competing with China and taking the necessary steps to reinforce America’s defense posture in the Indo-Pacific. However, it is not clear whether the administration is prepared to match resources with words. Following an anemic defense budget proposal, the Biden Pentagon is now ignoring — or, at least, slow-rolling — analysis that makes clear that the Guam Defense System represents an essential and urgent priority for American forces in the region.

House appropriators cut funding this month for efforts designed to protect American citizens and U.S. military bases in Guam from an increasingly formidable Chinese missile threat. The appropriators say they support improved missile defenses for Guam, but they cited the Pentagon’s failure to submit a required report that was due on May 1 as part of the justification for the cut. That is a short-sighted rationale given the rapidly growing missile threat from the People’s Liberation Army and the Pentagon’s persistent lack of responsiveness to Indo-Pacific Command’s repeated requests for funding to better defend Guam. The decision to cut funding also runs counter to the congressional authorizers’ commitment to improving defenses in the Pacific.

If these cuts are retained in the final legislation, they will delay the delivery of vital capabilities desperately needed to address both current Chinese ballistic and cruise missile threats and hypersonic capabilities Beijing is expected to deploy by 2026. That would leave Guam vulnerable longer than necessary and invite aggression from Beijing.

Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 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. 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. He previously served as 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 them on Twitter @Brad_L_Bowman and @MarkCMontgomery. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. 


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