Home/The State of the Union/What Virus? Military Asks Whopping $20B to ‘Deter Chinese Aggression’

What Virus? Military Asks Whopping $20B to ‘Deter Chinese Aggression’

'Number one priority' is a $1.5 billion, 360-degree persistent and integrated air defense ring around Guam​.

Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Phil Davidson participates in an honors ceremony at the Brunei Ministry of Defence. (MC1 Robin W. Peak/U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command submitted a $20 billion wish list to Congress requesting a billion dollars for stockpiles of long-range weapons, millions in new military funding for partner nations, and a $1.6 billion defensive ring around Guam in order to deter Chinese aggression in the region.

The wish list request is $1.6 billion over and above President Donald Trump’s whopping $740.5 billion 2020 military budget request submitted to Congress in February, which includes the largest dollar ask since World War II, adjusted for inflation. Additionally, the Pacific Command’s wish list requests an additional $18.46 billion requested for years 2022 through 2026.

​The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act required U.S. Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. Phil Davidson ​to submit a report ​to Congress ​by March 15, 2020 detailing what the command needs to fulfill the National Defense Strategy and maintain an edge over China​. Congress required the report to come directly from Adm. Davidson in order to get an on-the-ground view of what the command believes it needs​. Davidson requested the additional funding in the report.

Davidson calls his “number one unfunded priority” a 360-degree persistent and integrated air defense capability in Guam​ that would cost​ $1.67 billion cost over six years.

“America’s day begins in Guam and is not only a location we must fight from, but we must also fight for — given future threats,” ​he wrote.

​Among other pricey requests, Davidson asks Congress to provide $1 billion over 6 years to ​integrate the Navy’s Maritime Strike Tomahawk and the Air Force’s JASSM-ER weapon;​ $185 million for​a high-frequency radar system based in Palau​; $1 billion for​a homeland defense radar in Hawaii to detect ballistic, cruise and hypersonic threat​s​; and ​$1.9 billion for ​a space-based persistent radar system for tracking global threats ($1.9 billion).

Davidson dubbed the plan to counter the Chinese in the Pacific “Regain the Advantage.”

From the report:

“Regain the Advantage is designed to persuade potential adversaries that any preemptive military action will be extremely costly and likely fail by projecting credible combat power at the time of crisis, and provides the President and Secretary of Defense with several flexible deterrent options to include full [operation plan] execution, if it becomes necessary.”

“This requires fielding an integrated Joint Force with precision-strike networks, particularly land-based anti-ship and anti-air capabilities along the First Island Chain; integrated air missile defense in the Second Island Chain; and an enhanced force posture that provides for dispersal, the ability to preserve regional stability, and if needed sustain combat operations​.”

​In the report, Davidson compares the costs of  “Regain the Advantage” ​with the European European Deterrence Initiative, a DoD fund for projects focused on deterring ​acts of aggression from ​Russia in Europe​. The EDI is paid for out of a Pentagon slush fund account known as the overseas contingency operations, or OCO.

Pacific Deterrence Initiative, or PDI, ​focused on deterring​ China​​​, appears to be gaining support from members of Congress and within the Defense Department. Sen. John McCain, the​-chair of​the Senate Armed Services Committee​ was an early booster of the idea in early 2017​ when he called for an additional​ $1.5 billion a year over five years​ for the Pacific Command​​Defense Secretary Mark​ Esper​ renewed interest in the plan when he spokeof the need to “expand our basing locations” in the Pacific by “investing more time and resources” at the Naval War College in August 2019. Sen. Josh Hawley​, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee ​Sen. James Inhofe​, ​​ ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee​Rep. Mac Thornberry, ​and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith, all expressed interest in the plan.

​Arguing in favor of the PDI in a recent op-ed, ​former Pacific policy official for the DoD ​Randall Schriver​ ​and Eric Sayers, ​former​ special assistant to the commander of INDOPACOM, ​wrote:

​T​he operational dilemmas faced by Indo-Pacific Command demand urgent attention. In order to make American investments in advanced fighters, attack submarines, or breakthroughs in military technology meaningful (in other words, to deter or win a conflict), there must be urgent investment in runways, fuel and munitions storage, theater missile defenses, and command and control architecture to enable U.S. forces in a fight across the Pacific’s vast exterior lines.​”​

“Ultimately, the steps we take must convince our adversaries they simply cannot achieve their objectives with force,” Davidson wrote​ in the report​.

All this requested spending comes in addition to the Trump administration’s Defense budget, submitted in February, which requested $20 billion more for military programs than all the other federal programs combined.

Whether all this war spending will be reevaluated in light of the trillions in unforeseen coronavirus spending remains to be seen.

about the author

Barbara Boland is TAC’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Previously, she worked as an editor for the Washington Examiner and for CNS News. She is the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General George Patton in World War II, and her work has appeared on Fox News, The Hill UK Spectator, and elsewhere. Boland is a graduate from Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.  Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

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