The U.S. will strengthen its conventional deterrence against China by building a network of highly precise missiles along the so-called first island chain as part of $27.4 billion in investment to be considered for the Indo-Pacific region over the next six years. Also, they constitute the core initiatives of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has submitted to Congress. The Missile network will be in the so-called first island chain. China views the first chain as the first defense line. Beijing’s “anti-access/area denial” policy aims to drive U.S. troops out of East and South China seas.

 

U.S. commander in the Indo-Pacific says, China could shift the status quo in the area like Taiwan. The U.S.-led military has sent a spending proposal for fiscal 2022 to fiscal 2027 to Congress. The strategy is designed to “focus resources on vital military capabilities to deter China,” it states. The investment strategy includes “extremely survivable, highly precise networks along the first island chain” as a key aspect. It will entail increased usage of land-based batteries of conventional missiles.

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China maintains a complex nuclear arsenal with a view for stopping a U.S. military push inside the second island chain. China is powerful in ground-based, intermediate-range missiles. According to the Pentagon, China holds an arsenal of 1,250 such missiles, whereas the United States has none. This void belongs to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. A network of missiles countering China in the Indo-Pacific area “would be a benefit for Japan,” an official says. Tokyo has not debated such a step with Washington.

 

Placing U.S. missiles on Japanese soil will be fraught with difficulties. It will change the separation of positions between the American military and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. Tokyo and Washington will need to clarify the specifics of any planned rollout. Also, U.S. troops in Japan do not actually possess missiles that may strike China. Japan’s Defense Ministry has been setting up its own long-range missile capability. A decision by Japan to host American missiles will be likely to anger China. Tokyo is expected to face local resistance around possible deployment sites.

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