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Foreign Policy

Pacific Commanders need more cash for Bidens Asia Pivot

June 8, 2021, 7:27 am

The Pentagon’s top military command in the Asia-Pacific region is calling on Congress to top up its budget proposal by nearly $ 1 billion to strengthen missile defense, strengthen American allies and partners in the region, and find more robust bases for US forces to prepare for a possible military emergency in the region, as indicated in internal budget documents issued by Foreign policy.

In total, the US Indo-Pacific Command (Indopacom) is demanding almost 890 million US dollars for the Biden government’s budget proposal of 5.1 billion US dollars for the Asia-focused command, including 231 million US dollars for the air and missile defense for American military facilities in Guam – within reach of China’s improving missile and missile forces – and $ 114 million to improve robust US training ranges in Alaska and Hawaii to digitally connect with American forces performing exercises in the Western Pacific performing one day on Washington’s allies in the region.

While the price of Indopacom’s motion, known as the unfinanced priority list, pales in comparison to what the military services put on their wish lists after the budget cut by the Biden government, it would revert to the budget motions first made by the outgoing Indopacom chief Adm . Philip Davidson, who spent his final days publicly pushing for American assets to be built west of the International Date Line, to cope with a swift Chinese military move against Taiwan for example, was caught.

“The requests listed in the annex set out the conditions for ‘taking the initiative’ by providing a pragmatic and viable approach that discourages potential adversaries from trying unilaterally to change the international rules-based order, and reassures allies and partners and shaping the security environment. ”US Indo-Pacific Command Chief Admiral John Aquilino wrote on Friday in a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith and other congressional leaders. “The investments account for less than 1 percent of the DoD’s total binding authority and are critical to deter China’s decision making.”

The new US administration used its first few months in office to signal that President Joe Biden would be the first American president to cement a long-promised focus on Asia after former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump both stalled in the Middle East were . But the urge to top up Indopacom’s budget is the latest sign that the military and Congress are hoping the commander-in-chief will do more to shift the focus of US foreign policy. Fears that another promised Asian focus would lose momentum were raised by the Pentagon’s decision to launch the USS. to postpone made it clear, said current and former officials and congressional aides Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group from Japan to Afghanistan to aid US withdrawal, thereby depriving American allies in the shadow of China of the only aircraft carrier in the region.

Indopacom’s nearly billion dollar request is also a sign that Aquilino will continue the Hawaiian-based military command’s tradition of pushing the Pentagon for more military resources and US troops in the region if China moves against Taiwan, much to the delight of a bipartisan crowd in Congress that got Biden to provide the Command with better radars, bases to disperse US forces, and more security support for American partners. Davidson, Aquilino’s predecessor in office, had warned Congress that China could push to capture the island by 2027, the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army.

Congress last year drafted the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, known as PDI, to bring more US firepower to the first chain of islands bordering China in the western Pacific, from Japan to the Philippines, that hardened and dispersed the American navy and air Posts and forward deployments of F-35 fighter aircraft on a permanent or rotational basis. It was designed roughly to be the equivalent of a fund in the Asia-Pacific region set up by the Obama administration to consolidate European allies after Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula in 2014. However, the idea of ​​moving more US forces forward was clear opposition from the analytical wing of the Pentagon, fearing that American forces in the region would not survive a long-range attack by the increasingly competent PLA missile and missile forces.

The European Defense Initiative “built the support infrastructure, the support infrastructure, to get us to a much, much better place in terms of maintaining the deterrent against the Russians,” said a member of Congress Foreign policy, speak on condition of anonymity to speak openly about ongoing budget negotiations. “And that is exactly what PDI should do for the Western Pacific.”

The Indopacom request also calls for $ 88 million for new wargaming tools, $ 60 million for building defense radars in Hawaii that could be operational as early as 2023, $ 68.2 million for building more U.S. Bases in the region and $ 130.6 million to build the allied U.S. military in the region, the last of which was only $ 500,000 in Biden’s original budget. This was to the chagrin of the dismissed Congressional aides, who saw building US allies and partners as a focus of the newly designed Asia Fund and expressed frustration that the request did not meet legislative demands.

In a statement to Foreign policy In response to questions about the PDI, Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood insisted Monday that the Department of Defense’s ongoing review of the U.S. military’s global footprint would include many of the inquiries that Davidson, the former Indopacom chief, made earlier this year had directed the Congress.

But the deepening Taiwan crisis has made it again urgent to use more military power on Biden’s Asian focus, advisers and officials said, as the government intensified unofficial contacts with the island. China has been sending fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone every day for over a year to exhaust enemy pilots and aircraft, and the United States is carefully watching as Chinese military exercises become more coordinated and complex, e.g. more naval and missile forces.

“This is, in a way, rehearsing tactical attacks in and around Taiwan,” said a senior defense official.

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