Pentagon asks Congress for Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative

Pentagon asks Congress for Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative

The Defense Department is proposing legislation that would allow it to establish an Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative to deliver weapons to Taiwan and other friendly militaries in the region, modeled after a similar program used to arm Ukraine.

The proposal, submitted to Congress in April, asks for authorization to establish the initiative and requests $500 million in fiscal 2025 to arm Indo-Pacific partners either through the program or through Taiwan Presidential Drawdown Authority replenishment.

“This proposal would prioritize allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region that are at risk of invasion by revanchist powers,” the Defense Department wrote in its proposal. “This proposed authority is similar to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) but focused on strengthening deterrence and bolstering partners’ self-defense capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative has allowed the Pentagon to place weapons contracts for longer-term support to Kyiv. It’s a key pillar of U.S. support for the war-torn country alongside Presidential Drawdown Authority, used to transfer weapons to Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles.

The Defense Department’s $500 million funding request in the proposal for fiscal year 2025 would provide money to arm Indo-Pacific partners, such as Taiwan and the Philippines, under both authorities.

“The current environment in the Indo-Pacific region requires new approaches beyond the authorities developed for countering violent extremist organizations,” the Pentagon proposal states. “USAI has proven an effective tool in bolstering partner capabilities by expanding or creating opportunities for additional procurement.”

But the House’s draft text of the FY25 defense policy bill does not include the requested authorization for an Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative or the $500 million in funding to arm security partners in the region.

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up the legislation on Wednesday, when lawmakers will have the opportunity to add amendments to the legislation.

The $95 foreign aid bill Congress passed in April included nearly $4 billion in military aid for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies. That includes $1.9 billion in replenishment funds to send Taiwan weapons from U.S. stockpiles and another $2 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Taipei and other Indo-Pacific partners.

The FY24 government funding bill, which Congress passed in March, included another $300 million in Foreign Military Financing for Taiwan.

Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.

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