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Guam remains top priority for US Pacific Deterrence Initiative, INDOPACOM chief nominee says

The US should continue to make Guam its top Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) investment, Admiral John Aquilino, Pacific Fleet commander, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on 23 March.

“Defending Guam as US territory, including the infrastructure to manage an integrated joint force west of the International Date Line, should be PDI's number one priority,” Adm Aquilino said during his testimony at the SASC hearing on his nomination to become Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) commander.

“This includes establishing a distributed force posture, establishing a mission-partner environment, and advancing Pacific Multi-Domain Training and Experimentation Capability (PMTEC) to modernise our ranges,” Adm Aquilino testified.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 authorised USD2.2 billion for the PDI to support the stability and security of the region, and deter what the US considers to be Chinese aggression.

“PDI investments will improve our posture and it is a powerful tool in identifying the resources necessary to meet identified operational requirements in the region,” Adm Aquilino said. “PDI investments will have an effect on deterring our adversaries’ decision calculus while reassuring our allies and partners that the United States is a reliable partner, focused on ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

SASC members asked Adm Aquilino about the comments made by INDOPACOM Commander Admiral Philip Davidson that China could be ready to move against Taiwan within six years. Adm Aquilino said that he had heard a timeframe for such Chinese action ranging from now until years from now.

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