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Home : Media : Speeches / Testimony
NEWS | March 27, 2019

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Opening Remarks

By ADM Phil Davidson U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

ADM Phil Davidson
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Testimony Opening Remarks
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

27 March 2019


Good morning Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry, and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for providing Assistant Secretary of Defense Randy Schriver, General Abrams, and myself the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Indo-Pacific region. 

I am joined by USINDOPACOM’s Command Sergeant Major Tony Spadaro today.

First, let me say thank you for the significant support we have received from Congress over the last two years.

The temporary relief from the Budget Control Act and an on-time Fiscal Year 2019 budget helped to restore the military readiness and lethality necessary to safeguard vital U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific.  But there is more work to do.

The Defense Department’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget will help the Defense Department address the challenges described in the National Defense Strategy and ensure our military remains the most lethal force in the world.

This funding is critical to sustaining readiness recovery while increasing joint force lethality as we return to great power competition with China and Russia.

For more than 70 years, the Indo-Pacific has been largely peaceful.  This was made possible by two things:  the willingness and commitment of free nations to work together for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the credibility of the combat power of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command working with its allies and partners.

Our nation’s vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific demonstrates our continued commitment to a safe, secure, and prosperous region that benefits all nations, large and small.

And it continues to place strong alliances and partnerships as the foundation of our approach to the region.

The vision for of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific includes a whole of government approach with economic, governance, and security dimensions, and it resonates with our allies and partners across the region.

Indeed, we are seeing a general convergence around its importance across the region—as Japan, Australia, France, New Zealand, and India have all put forth similar concepts or visions, and Indonesia is leading an effort within ASEAN to elaborate one as well.

As the primary military component of the United States efforts to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, U.S. INDO-PACOM works with the rest of the U.S. government and a constellation of like-minded allies and partners to advance our shared vision.

There are five key challenges that I believe threaten that vision and our national interest.

First, until the nuclear situation is resolved on the peninsula, North Korea will remain our most immediate threat.  The recent summit in Vietnam clearly identified the US and DPRK negotiating positions, narrowed the gap on a number of issues, and made clear that the United States expects final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK.  The outcome of the summit reinforces the need for us to maintain the readiness of our Joint and Combined forces on and off the Peninsula.

China represents the greatest long-term strategic threat.

Through fear and coercion, Beijing is working to expand its form of Communist-Socialist ideology in order to bend, break, and replace the existing rules-based international order and prevent a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

In its place, Beijing seeks to create a new international order led by China with “Chinese characteristics”—an outcome that displaces the stability and peace of the Indo-Pacific that has endured for over 70 years.

China is using a variety of methods, including pernicious lending schemes like One Belt One Road, and promising loans or grants to extend their diplomatic and political reach by gaining leverage against the borrower’s sovereignty.

This is happening in the Pacific Islands with their South-South initiative, as well as closer to home, where in just over a year, seventeen Latin American countries have signed on to One Belt One Road.

The PRC’s military activities expanded last year with the placement of anti-ship cruise missiles, surface to air missiles, and radar jammers on disputed features in the South China Sea.

And, they continue testing and development of advanced capabilities like 5th generation aircraft, hyper-sonics, aircraft carriers and counter-space technologies.

I am also concerned about the growing malign influence of Russia throughout the region.  Moscow regularly plays the role of spoiler, seeking to undermine U.S. interests and impose additional costs on the United States and our allies whenever and wherever possible.

Terrorism and other non-state actors also pose threats to our vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, as they seek to impose their views and radicalize people across the region, as evidenced in 2017 when ISIS captured the Southern Philippines city of Marawi – a city of more than 200,000 people.

Lastly, the Indo-Pacific remains the most disaster-prone region in the world. It contains 75 percent of the earth’s volcanoes, and 90 percent of earthquakes occur in the Pacific Basin, and many countries across the region lack sufficient capability and capacity to manage natural and man-made disasters.

To address all of the challenges I mentioned, USINDOPACOM is focused on regaining our competitive military advantage to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific over the short- and long-term.

We must field and sustain a joint force that is postured to win before fighting and, if necessary, ready to fight and win.

USINDOPACOM’s ability to prevail in armed conflict is the foundation of combat credible deterrence and our ability to compete.  By fielding and maintaining a joint force ready to fight and win, we reduce the likelihood that any adversary will resort to military aggression to challenge or undermine the rules-based international order.  

To meet this demand my top five budget needs are focused on the following: Increasing critical munitions; Advancing our high-end warfare capabilities, like long-range precision fires; Enhancing and improving our persistent, integrated, air and missile defenses; evolving our counter UAS capabilities, and by continuing to develop the exquisite set of tools uniquely provided by Strategic Capabilities Office, DARPA, and our service research labs.

These deliberate actions will help ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and deny those who seek to undermine it in peace and war.

I must add that our five Indo-Pacific treaty allies - in Japan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand - They have all been steadfast in their support for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

Let me close by saying our ability to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific is only possible with Congress’ support, so I would again like to thank this committee for your continued support to the men and women of U.S. INDO-PACOM.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.


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