US to invest $ 27.4 billion in anti-China missile network along first island chain
China first and second island chain

China first and second island chain

US Indo-Pacific Command requests to double spending in the fiscal year 2022.

The United States will reinforce its conventional deterrence against China, establishing a network of precision attack missiles along the so-called first island chain as part of the $ 27.4 billion in expenses to be considered for Indo-Pacific theater in the next six years, informed Nikkei.

The missiles are the central proposals of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative that the US Indo-Pacific Command has submitted to Congress and that Nikkei has analyzed.

“The greatest danger to the future of the United States remains the erosion of conventional deterrence,” said the document. “Without valid and convincing conventional deterrence, China is encouraged to act in the region and globally to supplant US interests. As the military balance of the Indo-Pacific becomes more unfavorable, the United States accumulates additional risk that can encourage opponents to try to unilaterally change the status quo. ”

Specifically, the document calls for “the sending of a Joint Integrated Force with precision attack networks west of the International Date Line along the first island chain, integrated missile defense in the second island chain and a distributed force posture that provides the ability to preserve stability and, if necessary, dispense and sustain combat operations for long periods. ”

The first island chain consists of a group of islands that includes Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, which China sees as the first line of defense. Beijing’s “anti-access / area denial” (A2 / AD) strategy aims to push American forces out of the eastern and southern China seas into the first island chain.

China also seeks to prevent US forces from approaching the “second chain of islands” in the Western Pacific, which runs from southeastern Japan to Guam and from the south to Indonesia.

The Indo-Pacific Command presented an investment plan for the fiscal year 2022 through the fiscal year 2027 to Congress this month.

For the fiscal year 2022, it requested $ 4.7 billion, more than double the $ 2.2 billion earmarked for the region in fiscal 2021, and is close to about $ 5 billion. that Washington spent annually to negotiate with Russia.

The total of $ 27.4 billion over six years represents a 36% increase over planned spending for that period starting in fiscal 2020, reflecting the growing alarm over Chinese activity around Taiwan and the eastern seas. and southern China.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, based in Washington, on March 4, Admiral Philip Davidson, head of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, said there were concerns about the next six years as a period when China could seek to change the status quo in the region, as with Taiwan.

China A AD x

He said that there is “a fundamental understanding that the period between now and 2026, this decade, is the time horizon in which China is positioned to achieve an overcoming in its capacity, and when Beijing ‘could’, largely choose to change over time. forces the status quo in the region. ”

“And I would say that the change in that status quo can be permanent,” he said.

The plan is structured to “focus resources on military capabilities vital to detaining China,” according to the document. “The requirements outlined in this report are designed specifically to persuade potential opponents that any preventive military action will be very expensive and likely to fail when projecting reliable combat power at the time of the crisis,” the document states.

The proposal will be followed by discussions with legislators and countries that would be involved in its implementation. In the past, China has opposed the US attempts to place anti-missile shields in allied countries, mainly in South Korea.

The United States has about 132,000 troops stationed in the Indo-Pacific, according to a Japanese defense white paper.

The investment plan presents “precision attack networks with high survivability along the first chain of islands” as a central element. This would mean expanding the use of ground batteries with conventional missiles, as the military has ruled out the use of nuclear warheads in these short and medium-range missiles.

The United States has long based its strategy for China around its naval and air forces. During the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, the United States sent aircraft carriers to project an overwhelming military force as a deterrent.

China now has a diverse arsenal of missiles aimed at blocking a US military advance within the second island chain. This made the US strategy based on the Navy and Air Force less viable.

China is strong in medium-range ground missiles. Although China has an arsenal of 1,250 of these missiles, according to the Pentagon, the United States has none.

This gap is due to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of between 500 km and 5,500 km. The agreement expired in 2019.

“The INF Treaty unnecessarily restricted the United States,” Senator Jim Risch, the Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Nikkei in a written interview.

The launch of mid-range missiles in the Indo-Pacific “is a large and increasingly necessary area of ​​discussion for the United States and Japan to explore,” said Risch.

A missile network against China in the Indo-Pacific region “would be an advantage for Japan,” said a senior Japanese government official. This official said that Tokyo did not discuss such a measure with Washington.

American land, sea, and air forces are stationed in Japan under the two countries’ bilateral security treaty, which forces Washington to defend Japan if attacked. There are now about 55,000 American soldiers stationed in Japan, the largest contingent of American troops abroad.

US forces in Japan currently do not maintain missiles that could hit China. Japan’s Ministry of Defense is building its own long-range missile capabilities in the Nansei Islands, which includes Okinawa.

But placing US missiles on Japanese soil would be very difficult. How such a move would affect the division of functions between the American military and the Self-Defense Forces of Japan, Tokyo, and Washington would need to discuss the details of any proposed deployment, including the location and range of the missiles.

An opportunity is likely to arise during negotiations on host nation support for the fiscal year 2022 onwards. Missile deployment “can be discussed while we talk about the course of the Japan-US alliance,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official.

Japan’s decision to host American missiles will certainly irritate China, complicating diplomacy between the two economically interconnected neighbors. And Tokyo is likely to encounter local opposition around possible deployment sites, including Okinawa, where about 70% of American forces in the country are concentrated.

Budget concerns may also arise. Washington “could ask us to pay for maintenance and other costs associated with missiles deployed in Japan,” said a Defense Ministry official.

FONTE: Nikkei Asia

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