Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New Legislation Introduced in US Congress would greatly enhance American Security Interests in Asia

Rep. Forbes 
On Monday, it was announced that Chairman of the House Armed Services Sea power and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) co-authored legislation titled the "Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act"--which they plan introduce this week. If enacted into law, this bill would add a series of Congressional mandates into America's Asian security posture intended to strengthen current relationships with allies in the region.

While portions of the bill seek to strengthen ties by economic means ("requesting a a direct report on future U.S.-Republic of Korea Security and Trade cooperation)--much of the bill focuses on military posture and analysis.

Some of the bill's proposals include:

Rep. Hanabusa 

  • Requiring an Independent Assessment of Anti-Access/Area-Denial Challenges 
  • Requiring Net Assessment of Chinese Naval Modernization to conduct a study of the maritime balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific
-This provision will be interesting to those who have heard of The Office of Net Assessment; a secretive Pentagon-based think tank that was created under President Nixon (and whose director, 91 year old Andrew Marshall still reigns as the director).  The ONA has been thought of (often negatively by its critics) as being "obsessed" with China in military terms for the better part of the last 20 years, and such a report would likely paint a menacing picture of Chinese naval capabilities.

  • Requiring the Department of Defense to submit a report on cross-Strait balance of maritime forces between China and Taiwan
-This report would also likely show the ever-growing gap between Chinese and Taiwanese naval capabilities--and be used by China hawks and supporters of Taiwan in Congress to place additional pressure on the current Administration to make available modern naval platforms for sale to Taiwan, as well as possible American assistance in aiding Taiwan's desire to develop it's own domestic submarine program.

  • Requiring Development of a Pacific Command Munitions Strategy 
  • Directing improvements in missile defense cooperation and capabilities
--The bill specifically mentions missile defense cooperation with Japan and the Republic of Korea

It will be interesting to see if the bill gains traction on the Hill in the form of additional co-sponsors, which will be the tell-tale sign of this bill moving forward in the House. Rep. Forbes does hold substantial sway with his Committee assignments and tenure in Washington, so the bill would appear to have a chance of gaining momentum in the coming weeks.

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