America, Indo-Pacific Partners Must Continue To Invest In Robust Deterrence
‘While our most hostile strategic adversary is accelerating its military investments, the Biden Administration asked Congress to shrink spending on America’s armed forces in real dollars… Make no mistake - If the United States and our partners fail to work together to maintain robust deterrence on behalf of a free and open Indo-Pacific, China will be all too happy to fill the void.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding national security:
“As I’ve discussed at length, America’s partners in the Indo-Pacific understand the link between Russian aggression in Europe and the threat of Chinese aggression closer to home.
“Japan and Taiwan have devoted serious resources to Ukraine’s defense. But our friends are also wisely strengthening their own defenses.
“Last year, Taiwan’s government put forward its largest defense budget proposal ever – a 14% increase in topline spending – along with greater attention to territorial defense, longer service requirements for conscripts, and a focus on whole-of-government resilience.
“Japan has a new transformational national security strategy. Prime Minister Kishida’s government is pursuing new long-range strike capabilities, increasing defense spending, and buying SM-6 interceptors.
“In a sign of deepening cooperation with the United States, it has expanded its defense industrial capacity by building facilities to assemble F-35s in Japan.
“South Korea is also deepening its security cooperation with the United States, expanding its defense industrial capacity, and providing military capabilities to key American allies in Europe.
“President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida have also worked to improve relations between their two countries and open the door for increased cooperation with America in the face of an increasingly belligerent North Korea.
“The Philippines is engaging in regular joint exercises in the South China Sea and working closely with the United States on enhanced defense cooperation sites that improve our interoperability.
“And earlier this year, Australia reached an agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom to procure nuclear-powered conventional submarines – the biggest defense investment in the nation’s history.
“In other words, our friends are putting their money where their mouths are.
“That’s important, because so has the People’s Republic of China.
“Beijing has made historic investments in its own military modernization. PRC defense spending has grown every year for almost three decades, but in each of the last two years, it’s jumped by at least seven percent. And needless to say, China’s official statistics tend to obscure as much as they reveal.
“While our most hostile strategic adversary is accelerating its military investments, the Biden Administration asked Congress to shrink spending on America’s armed forces in real dollars.
“Today, our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee will mark up the National Defense Authorization Act, beginning the Senate’s annual work of tending to our nation’s common defense.
“Facing down a common threat is a chance for the United States and our partners to grow the defense industrial base we’ll need to sustain effective deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.
“It’s an opportunity to reform America’s sluggish foreign military sales procedures, promote interoperability, and expand joint exercises and access agreements across the region.
“If we are serious about deepening our defense industrial cooperation, America and our partners must make it easier to work together, to share technology and intelligence, and to align our defense investments.
“We need to streamline regulations that can prevent our partners from investing in their own defense bases in closer coordination with the United States.
“Of course, this is not a one way street. America can also benefit from technologies our partners are developing, if our regulations and bureaucracies allow it.
“Our agreement with the UK and Australia could represent a transformational new approach to collective security.
“If the Biden Administration wants this partnership to succeed, it should consider providing broader country exemptions for defense trade licenses for these closest allies, similar to what we already do with Canada.
“Very simply, it’s an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
“Mr. President, China’s bid for hegemony in the Indo-Pacific extends far beyond investments in naval vessels and new missile technologies.
“The PRC has poured billions of dollars into development projects in vulnerable island nations in the Pacific.
“Make no mistake – If the United States and our partners fail to work together to maintain robust deterrence on behalf of a free and open Indo-Pacific, China will be all too happy to fill the void.”
Related Issues: Russia, America's Military, National Security, China, NDAA, North Korea