Senate Panel Funds So-Called Pacific Defense Initiative Against China
June 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved $6 billion for the so-called Pacific Defense Initiative. “The best way to protect U.S. security and prosperity in Asia is to maintain a credible balance of military power, but, after years of underfunding, America’s ability to do so is at risk,” the committee’s summary stated, reported Defense News. “The FY21 [National Defense Authorization Act] establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific.”
The committee also approved a provision that encourages the U.S. Air Force to establish an operating location in the Indo-Pacific region for F-35A fighter jets, and to allocate “sufficient resources and prioritize the protection of air bases that might be under attack from current or emerging cruise missiles and advanced hypersonic missiles, specifically from China.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is boasting that for the first time in quite a while, that it has three aircraft carriers, along with their escort ships, under way at the same time in the Pacific Ocean: the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt—now free of the coronavirus—the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, and the U.S.S. Nimitz. The convergence of three carrier strike groups in the region is unusual because of the limited number of carriers, and the fact that they are often cycling through repair schedules, port visits, training, or deployments to other parts of the world, reports Associated Press.
“The ability to be present in a strong way is part of the competition [with China]. And as I always tell my guys here, you’ve got to be present to win when you’re competing,” said Rear Adm. Stephen Koehler, director of operations at Indo-Pacific Command. Koehler told AP that China is slowly and methodically building up military outposts in the South China Sea, putting missile and electronic warfare systems on them.