As Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said, “In the Indo-Pacific region, the United States faces a near-term, belligerent threat armed with nuclear weapons and also a longer-term strategic competitor. In fact, four of the five key security challenges -- China, Russia, North Korea, and terrorism -- reside in the PACOM area of responsibility. Critical to meeting all of the challenges in the region is our relationship with our allies and also with countries with whom we share interests.”
This year’s NDAA prioritizes military readiness and strengthens key partnerships while also underscoring that the long-term strategic competition with China is a principal priority for the United States.
Strengthens U.S. Military Readiness
- Bolsters the Department of Defense’s efforts to plan for and provide the necessary forces, military infrastructure, logistics capabilities, and bilateral and multilateral training in the region through the Indo-Pacific Stability Initiative.
- Invests in critical military capabilities to deter aggression and respond rapidly to crisis.
- Supports strong missile defense systems to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, including the DoD’s development of new capabilities and efforts to provide for a layered defense of the homeland.
- Renames U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to emphasize the Commands’ responsibility across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- Requires the DoD to conduct a study on the operational requirements needed for language expertise in Korean, Chinese Mandarin, and Russian and a plan to address any shortfalls.
Helps Our Allies and Partners Defend Themselves
- Supports missile defense exercises in the Indo-Pacific region with United States regional allies and partners to improve interoperability.
- Promotes security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through quadrilateral exercises with regional allies and partners to include Japan, Australia, and India.
- Expands and extends for another three years the authority for the South China Sea Maritime Security Initiative to include certain Indian Ocean countries and renames it to the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative.
- Supports improving Taiwan’s defense capabilities by expanding joint training, foreign military sales, the use of security cooperation authorities, and senior-level defense engagement to include sending a U.S. service secretary or member of the joint chiefs to visit Taiwan.
- Reaffirms the United States’ extended nuclear deterrence commitment to U.S. allies, including South Korea, Japan, and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Explores ways to improve interoperability and develop closer defense cooperation with Indiaon matters relating to missile defense.
- Directs the Department of Defense to use security cooperation funding to counter malign influence campaigns.
- Modifies the current Russia sanctions regime to allow countries that demonstrably curtail their relationship with Russia to do business with the United States. Secretaries Mattis and Pompeo both requested modifications to preserve important defense relationships with allies and partners.
Counters Aggression in the Region
- Requires the Administration to construct a whole-of-government strategy to address China’s activities, including:
- An assessment and planned responses to address activities by the Chinese Communist Party to include the use of political influence, information operations, use of intelligence networks, economic and military tools, and cyber activities;
- A U.S. strategic communication plan to counter Chinese influence.
- Highlights China’s provocative military, maritime, and air activities in the Indo-Pacific region by requiring a quarterly report to Congress that may be disseminated to allies and partners.
- Reaffirms the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a central foreign policy objective of the United States and that the presence of the United States Forces on the Korean Peninsula should remain strong and enduring.