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The threat to U.S. and allied air facilities in the Indo-Pacific region is increasing. Current air force posture is vulnerable to adversary first strike due to insufficient posture resiliency—the ability of deployed forces to survive, operate, and regenerate under adversary attack. The recently announced decision to replace the permanent F-15C Eagle squadrons at Kadena Air Base with a rotational deployment only reduces the effectiveness of U.S. Indo-Pacific air forces in the event of a conflict. Defense planning in recent years has outlined recommendations to improve the defense of both facilities and others in the region, but these recommendations have only been partially implemented at best.
On September 20, 2022, CSBA Counselor, Eric S. Edelman and Franklin C. Miller, Principal at The Scowcroft Group, testified before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services regarding nuclear strategy and policy.
In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper indicated that he believed it would be useful to deploy conventional intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the Indo-Pacific region. But it is not yet clear that allied or partner governments in either this region or in Europe would be willing to host such capabilities on their territory.
Since its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, the United States has been free to develop new medium and intermediate-range conventional missiles to strengthen its conventional deterrence posture. The military services have tested and fielded a variety of systems that could bolster their long-range strike capabilities and proposed still others. To date, however, Washington lacks a clear path for how the various service initiatives might contribute collectively to a broader precision-strike complex.
In May 2022, the Pentagon presented its second budget request to the Biden Administration, proposing a $773 billion topline for Fiscal Year 2023. Although estimates of nominal and real growth have varied based on this figure, the question of inflation’s impact on the defense budget looms large. Congress recognizes that accepting the Administration’s request as-is would lead to slim pickings when it comes to funding the DoD’s priorities, but the question remains whether to approve a large increase to avoid a purchasing power gap or to continue the trend of minor budgetary increases.
All militaries confront resource tradeoffs. As China and the United States enter a period of intensifying military competition, understanding the tradeoffs the two must face and their likely consequences will become ever more important. Yet, without a better understanding of China’s own resourcing constraints and associated vulnerabilities, policymakers lack the critical insights to holistically assess the state of the competition and develop effective strategies.