WASHINGTON –Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, introduced a bill this week to help strengthen the stability and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Strengthening Security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Act (H.R. 2621) increases critical capabilities to support U.S. military readiness, deter aggression, and to respond rapidly to crises in the region. It also bolsters U.S. alliances and partnerships there.
“No one needs reminding of the escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific. It is essential that the United States reassure our allies and friends that we are committed to stability and security in that region now and in the future. One of the best ways to do that is to increase our military presence and enhance our readiness there. To do that, we need to invest in a broad range of defense capabilities and this legislation does just that.”
The bill authorizes more than $2.1 B for the coming fiscal year. The Chairman said he intends to include the measure in the upcoming annual defense bill which is currently scheduled to be considered in Committee in late June.
- Positions sufficient forces forward and invest in critical military capabilities to deter aggression and respond rapidly to crises.
- Authorizes $1B to improve critical munitions inventories and enhance munition capabilities.
- Authorizes $1B to procure Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors (THAAD) or lower tier air and missile defense interceptors, and $15M for missile defense exercises with Japan, South Korea, and Australia for defense against the ballistic missile forces of North Korea.
- Authorizes $100M for enhanced joint training and exercises to improve force readiness across the full-spectrum of threats in the region.
- Reaffirms U.S. extended deterrence commitments to the Asia-Pacific region, including maintaining robust nuclear capable bombers.
- Requires a plan to maintain a forward-stationed combat aviation brigade in South Korea to better position the Armed Forces for major contingencies on the Korean Peninsula.
- Requires a plan to incorporate cyber planning with joint planning exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, enhance operations and strategic communication strategies to counter Russian, Chinese, and North Korean information warfare, and identify potential areas of cooperation on cybersecurity with allies and partners.
- Reinforces our key defense relationships with allies and partners – including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Australia – and calls for the U.S. to regularly exercise freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
- It reinforces the importance of strengthening key regional institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that address shared economic and security challenges.
Please find the bill text here and bill summary here.