Republican congressional leadership is taking issues with the Biden administration’s national security priorities. China is a bigger threat to national security than climate change, and the Biden administration should reflect that reality in its FY2022 President’s Budget Request for Defense. That’s what House Armed Services Committee (HASC) ranking member Mike Rogers (R-AL) and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (HAC-D) ranking member Ken Calvert (R-CA) conclude in a recent commentary in Defense News.
The congressional leaders point out that the President’s Budget Request represents where the Biden administration’s priority for national security ranks. Furthermore, that priority notifies the rest of the world how the U.S. sees its position as a global leader in defense of allies, partners, and friends. Rogers and Calvert explain:
“One of the ways America signals to the world that we will continue to be a global leader is by maintaining a strong national defense. Unfortunately, President Biden’s proposed FY2022 defense budget sends the wrong message to our allies and our adversaries. By failing to keep pace with inflation, the President’s budget amounts to a cut of over $4 billion in defense spending. Meanwhile, his budget proposes to increase non-defense spending by a massive $104 billion or 16 percent.”
Biden’s reduced budget topline for defense, the authors observe, transfers “nearly $650 million” from already insufficient, required funding in the modernization and procurement accounts to climate change programs. As Rogers and Calvert emphasize, these initiatives have nothing to do with enabling our warfighters to apply “lethal force ready to ‘fight tonight.'”
“When we dedicate scarce defense funding to global climate change, biofuels initiatives, and social engineering experiments with military personnel,” the authors contend, the result is that “you can almost hear the cheers and laughter of our adversaries.”
Summing up the case for more defense funding targeted at giving the soldiers, sailors, and airmen the capability needed to meet and defeat an adversary, the legislators conclude:
“While China and Russia plot the downfall of American and liberal democracies globally, President Biden’s progressive budget-driven strategy fails to meet the needs of the nation, shortchanges our military, endangers our allies, and invites chaos into the world. Thankfully, the President’s budget proposal is only a request.”
The two congressional leaders are not alone in their concern that the current Pentagon funding request is inadequate to counter the Chinese and send a clear, unmistakable message to allies and foes alike that the U.S. considers its national security the number one strategic priority. Writing for The Epoch Times in an opinion piece, Grant Newsham puts a greater sense of urgency on the threat China represents.
Newsham is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served as reserve head of intelligence for Marine Forces Pacific and as a U.S. Marine attaché in the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. He has a working knowledge of the region and believes that Taiwan is indeed the tripwire for a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.
What makes Newsham’s view important is that he believes the threat to Taiwan and, therefore, to the U.S. is more immediate than do the leadership in the Department of Defense (DoD). According to an article in The Hill, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley’s testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee that the Chinese do not have the wherewithal or the inclination to invade Taiwan. He explained:
“My assessment, in terms of capability, I think China has a ways to go to develop the actual, no-kidding capability to conduct military operations to seize through military means the entire island of Taiwan if they wanted to do that…I think there’s little intent right now or motivation to do it militarily…There’s no reason to do it militarily, and they know that. So, I think the probability is probably low, in the immediate, near-term future.”
In a perverse sense, the Pentagon must take this position because the DoD leadership has made it known to Congress that it supports President Biden’s defense budget. C. Todd Lopez, reporting for the Pentagon’s news service DoD News, quoted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in testimony to the HAC-D about the Biden budget.
“This budget provides us the ability to create the right mix of capabilities to defend this nation and to deter any aggressor,” Austin said. “It adequately allows us to begin to prepare for the next fight … it, in fact, does provide us the ability to go after the capabilities that we need.”
If the Pentagon took any other position than China does not represent an immediate threat, they concede that the Biden budget is inadequate. It puts the leadership in a real conundrum.
In stark contrast to the Pentagon China view, Newsham believes that China can successfully combat operations against Taiwan. In his commentary, Newsham says the Peoples’ Liberation Army is capable and:
“It has 50+ purpose-built amphibious ships. Some are older models, but these work fine. The Chinese also have hundreds of commercial vessels, container and RORO (roll-on/roll-off) ships, and thousands of ferries and barges. If the objective is to get troops and hardware across the strait, then these will suffice. There is enough ‘lift’ to land three Army divisions and a Marine brigade in an initial assault, according to some analysts. And there is no shortage of military and civilian aircraft to drop airborne troops.”
“Keep in mind that an assault will take place in the context of missile barrages, cyber-attacks, electronic warfare, and naval and air forces swarming the island and its environs,” the former defense attaché warns. “Also, there is a ‘5th column’ of saboteurs and agents in Taiwan that China has had 60 years to put in place.” It is instructive to remember that Taiwan is closer to mainland China than England was to the invasion beaches of Normandy.
Newsham’s reporting shines a light on any potential China-U.S. conflict, fortifying Rogers’ and Calvert’s argument that DoD is not funding for countering China. But, as the two legislators point out, “Thankfully, the President’s budget proposal is only a request.”
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
Read more from Dave Patterson.