“We remain concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” Jen Psaki, White House Secretary.
There is a growing sense across the Indo-Pacific and globally that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intends to use coercive economic, diplomatic, and military tools to threaten the sovereignty of nations. China’s recent actions demonstrate this intent. Beyond the recent repeated large scale military incursions into Taiwan’s airspace, the CCP has ramped up pressure on Taiwan, and demonstrated their intent to weaken and attempt to isolate Taiwan from the global community. All these actions are antithetical to international rules and norms.
The geography within the sovereign territories of Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines represents the strategic high ground across the first island chain. This strategic area is fundamental to national security blueprints for maintaining the peace and stability that is the cornerstone for regional stability. This geography of the first island chain matched with the geometry of sophisticated U.S. defense systems, and those of our trusted Allies and Partners, is tightly interwoven with national security interdependencies that have served to guarantee regional peace and stability for over 75 years. These proven blueprints must be strengthened and enhanced with transparent economic trade, as well as deterrent-based military force and advanced technologies across all domains.
U.S. Allies and Partners are rightly pushing back against China’s aggressive action. Japan is deepening and strengthening its military power and enhancing its capabilities with the most advanced U.S. weapons systems. The U.S. and Japan are combining and aggregating military capabilities and capacities with geographic positional advantage and interwoven operational designs and plans across the first and second island chains. Taiwan has adopted a new national security construct that favors a more asymmetrical approach to defense and deterrence. The diplomatic, economic, and military exchanges between the U.S, Japan, and Taiwan are only growing stronger due to China’s aggression. Korea is also observing Chinese behavior and looking to reorient and balance its military power to cover the western maritime space of the Yellow Sea. The U.S-Philippine Alliance persists, even in the face of personality-driven foreign policy differences of perspective. The US-Philippine Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) remains an historic and unprecedented element of the alliance, as it allows for mutually supportive positional advantage for military-economic power and technological strength.
Across the Indo-Pacific, U.S. alliances and partnerships remain the pillars for deterrence and defense policy, and they will be reinforced with the development, procurement, and fielding of technologically superior systems. The United Kingdom’s has deployed its new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the Pacific with the Marine Corps F-35Bs. With increasing special trust and confidence, India is acquiring sophisticated anti-submarine capabilities from the US to protect against the threat of China’s submarines operating in the Indian Ocean. Australia has committed to building nuclear submarines with the United States and United Kingdom and is collaborating to develop hypersonic missiles and over the horizon radars. Japan has just selected in a new conservative Prime Minister, and the U.S. is flying Marine Corps F-35Bs from the Japanese JS Izumo (DDH-183). These are Indo Pacific alliance initiatives that serve to right the imbalance in the face of destabilizing Chinese aggression.
Given the vast geographic spaces of the Indo-Pacific, it is not surprising that the hypersonic arms race is accelerating most prominently within the region. Sophisticated Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs) and complex varieties of kinetic missiles are being developed by China, Russia, and North Korea. China is leading and setting the pace to achieve strategic advantage with offensive weaponry that could easily become nuclear. China has developed, built, and tested some of the most advanced HGVs to date. Russia is also close to U.S. technology in terms of both capability and capacity. North Korea continues to advance its missile technologies at alarming rates of production and testing. The aggregation of these threats across the Indo-Pacific demonstrates, with clear intent, a threat to the current world order.
The United States must continue to prioritize its military modernization efforts and resources to prepare for conflict with near peer adversaries. The unchallenged air supremacy experienced in conflict in the Middle East over the past twenty years masked stagnant technological investments, and China and Russia used the time to catch-up. US RDT&E of hypersonic missile technologies is systematically falling behind that of China and Russia. In fact, Russia executed a successful Hypersonic Glide Vehicle test last week. Adding to the trouble, North Korea claimed hypersonic missile tests of its own last week. While the US executed a successful Hypersonic Test two weeks ago, it must pick-up the pace. The Hypersonic Glide Vehicle race is a National Security imperative.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command submitted a $27 billion proposal known as the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), to help counter China and Russia’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Congressionally mandated plan calls for the fielding into the Indo-Pacific both soft power and hard power of long-range strike capabilities to include cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missiles, and an emphasis on enhancing missile defense capabilities, especially on Guam. The Department of Defense needs to fully embrace and resource this PDI, not nibble around the edges of the request. Another Congressionally mandated report defining the requirements for the Missile Defense of Guam has been submitted to Congress for review. When taken together these two reports provide a road map for investments in pacific defense, it is imperative we develop the capability and capacity to defend our national interests in the region.
“It doesn’t matter if individually your stuff is better, if you don’t have enough of them, you still lose.” (Admiral Charles Richard, STRATCOM Commander Space and Missile Defense Symposium 12 August 2021).
The Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget has to clearly signal increasing capacity investments, integrating offense with defense, and deploying capabilities into the Pacific rather than out of the Pacific.
The new global order will be driven and controlled by the nation-state with the best technology and the best form of human governance – that which is founded on freedom, liberty, values, and virtue. From Greece to Rome, from Britain to the America, ‘Is It Not or Is It That Time’ in world history for a transition to a new world order… China thinks it is!