U.S. Pacific Commander Seeks More Funding to Counter China

April 18, 2019

Editor’s note: China’s military rise is funded by their trade surplus with the US. Conversely, the US containment strategy against the USSR bankrupted them. 

Adm. Phil Davidson sent letter to Senate Armed Services Committee faulting shortage of ‘immediate and necessary resources’

[Gordon Lubold | April 17, 2019 | WSJ

WASHINGTON—The commander in charge of U.S. military operations in the Pacific wants Congress to give the command more money for defense programs to counter China, reflecting his concerns that the Pentagon’s budget isn’t realigning quickly enough to address the threat from Beijing.

Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, believes the Defense Department’s fiscal 2020 budget doesn’t include enough funding to provide “immediate and necessary resources” for the region he oversees, according to a letter he wrote late last month to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The letter was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Adm. Davidson pointed to what he said were funding shortfalls for an army task force in Asia, units meant to conduct air, missile and coastal defense missions, as well as a military construction budget to assist allies in the region. In the letter, he also sought funds to modernize Navy guided-missile destroyers built with the Aegis combat system and funds for a “permanent and persistent” land-based integrated air- and missile-defense system to defend the island of Guam.

“I appreciate your continued support and advocacy for those critical capabilities necessary to counter the pernicious actions of our near peer rivals,” Adm. Davidson wrote in the March 22 letter.

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), declined to comment on the letter. A spokesman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or IndoPacom, also declined to comment.

Combatant commanders, who lead regional military commanders around the world, often submit to the Pentagon their so-called wish lists for programs they consider unfunded or underfunded.

Experts said Adm. Davidson’s request is notable, however, because the White House has touted a shift of focus away from the conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia to “peer competitors” Russia and China.

Several of them said they saw the letter as an indication that the U.S. still isn’t doing enough to fund programs to counter China, whose military expansion and increasing assertiveness around the world animated the Pentagon’s new emphasis in Asia. The National Defense Strategy, written last year by the Pentagon, validated many budgetary moves in the proposed fiscal 2020 budget, which was released last month.

There is a lot of talk at the Pentagon about implementing the [National Defense Strategy], but this letter is a strong statement from Adm. Davidson that the shift isn’t happening quickly enough or in the ways that will truly address the operational shortfalls he faces,” said Eric Sayers, a former special assistant to the IndoPacom commander. “We have a long way to go and I don’t see enough urgency compared to what we are doing in Europe.”

“Nothing is more important” than getting the commander at IndoPacom what he needs, said Elbridge Colby, who was instrumental in the writing of the National Defense Strategy when he worked at the Pentagon.

“Some people just don’t think it’s possible that we could lose a war against China or Russia if the Department doesn’t change fast. I think that misplaced disbelief is behind a lot of the inertia,” Mr. Colby said in an email.

“The Department is shifting well for such an enormous enterprise but certain things are really key and making sure the IndoPacom commander has what he needs against China is especially vital,” he added.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com

Read the original article here.

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