When you walk the elephants in the jungle, you swim your hippos and roar your lions. While China was intimidating the South China Sea from its artificial islands, projecting power with its new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, steaming through the Miyako Strait past Taiwan, and continuing its narrative on the coronavirus, the United States Air Force walked out its B-52 strategic nuclear force on Andersen Air Base in Guam while the U.S. Navy steamed through the South China Sea.
“U.S. strategic bombers will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific, to include Guam, at the timing and tempo of our choosing. We will maximize all opportunities to train alongside our allies and partners, to build interoperability, and bolster our collective ability to be operationally unpredictable.” – Air Force Global Strike Command, April 17, 2020.
“Yes, we are absolutely adjusting our presence in theatre when it comes to bombers.” The “dynamic force employment” will allow for the U.S. Air Force and the broader military to be “strategically predictable, and operationally unpredictable” – Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, April 1, 2020.
The U.S. Navy, in unison of an open and free Pacific, steamed an expeditionary Strike Group made up of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), Aegis cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), and Aegis BMD destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) through the South China Seas.
Today, the United States and its Indo-Pacific allies rely on maneuvering deployed forces to deter China and provide stability in abiding to international law and norms. In the Pacific, heavy dependence is placed on the Navy aircraft carrier strike groups, U.S. air power, and Marine amphibious forces much to the same degree as it has since World War II over 75 years ago.
Strategies of deterrence now have to change to continue the competition with China, who has studied, copied, built, and deployed massive, complex and capable strike capabilities from land, sea, air, and space to specifically overmatch and defeat the U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups and U.S. forward deployed Air/Marine/Navy bases located in and around the first and second island chains. China is unilaterally taking, building, and deploying anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) on artificial islands in the South China Sea to further deny U.S. maneuvering capabilities in the region.
The Marines are adapting and have put forward their lighter and more mobile force concept last month in the Force Design 2030 report and recently to Congress. Admiral Philip Davidson, U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander, and General Charles Brown, Pacific Air Forces Commander, are leading new strategies to deter China by providing joint layered cross-domain solutions made up of sensors and effectors connected by the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) that will be allied interoperable. A vast capability that will provide collective data and solutions instantly giving a tremendous edge on decision making to defend and deter across the Indo-Pacific region.
Admiral Davidson submitted a $20 billion Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative proposal per request of the United States Congress last month to increase the Indo-Pacific capacity and capability for new deterrence capacities against China. The proposal emphasized the necessity of forming a better defensive radar in and for Hawaii, including allies, exercises and deploying new evolutionary offensive and 360 defensive capabilities at the edge of the most western territory of the United States, Guam. Last week on April 16, the Ranking Member of the House Arms Service Committee, Congressman Mac Thornberry (TX-13,) submitted a $6 billion request for the first year of the $20 billion Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative (IPDI.) Portions of it would go to a new homeland defense radar in Hawaii and to 360 integrated air and missile defense of Guam. This week Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas unveiled a legislation proposal to for $43 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. $28 billion is focused on the Coronavirus and around $15 billion to regain Military advantage in the Indo-Pacific region and increase U.S. Capabilities against China in this region. Those increased capabilities are: Naval Lethality – $3.9 billion, Air Superiority- $3 Billion, Ground Overmatch- $473 million, Missile Defense – $1.2 Billion and Advanced Technology – $667 Million.
“It will greatly strengthen the United States’ position in the Indo-Pacific, allowing us to block China’s goals of regional dominance, and ultimately, competition with the United States” Sen. Tom Cotton, April 22, 2020.
Protecting the United States’ position in the Pacific relies on strong force projection from bases like Andersen Air Force Base and the Joint Region Marianas Navy Base situated in the island of Guam, and the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. A dynamic and unpredictable Air Force over a vast Pacific relies on air bases forward in the Pacific to sustain, project and add more effectiveness to its operability. The Marines and the Army rely on forward bases in the Pacific in the first and second island chains to sustain deterrence and rapidly project power. All of these forward operating bases, including US Air Force and US Navy bases in Japan and throughout the Pacific, are under direct threat from Chinese layered 360 missile overmatch. These bases all have to have an integrated 360 joint layered air and missile defense (IAMD) to protect and defend their deterrence and force projection capabilities to hold China in check.
“The Chinese Communist Party will try to exploit the world’s weakness in the wake of a virus it unleashed. We cannot allow it to succeed.” Senator Tom Cotton, April 22, 2020.
In the Jungle, it takes elephants walking, hippos swimming, and lions roaring to keep the hyenas from taking it.
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