Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said the new U.S. strategy includes maintaining U.S. naval dominance and making strong partnerships around the globe, mostly with countries in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a guidance preview from Defense News on Oct. 5. The new guidance is set to be released this week.
Del Toro said the goal is not to fight China. “No one wants to enter into a conflict. … It’s our ultimate responsibility to deter them from what they’re trying to accomplish, including taking over Taiwan.”
To this end, Del Toro said the first priority is to plan the defense budget accordingly, making immediate investments to deter China. He stated the U.S. Navy is willing to make tough decisions so that the naval forces “have the right combination and the number of platforms and weapons for the full spectrum of threats tomorrow,” according to Defense News.
Taiwan is a key stronghold in the fight against the CCP, serving as a barrier to the Chinese Navy, as it “keeps the keys between the East and South China Seas and holds the People’s Liberation Army Navy within the first island chain,” according to Bradley A. Thayer, founding member of Present Danger China. He also pointed out that Taiwan’s location makes it an important base and should be armed well enough to defend itself in case of a sustained conflict.
The CCP has threatened to put Taiwan under its control by force, as it claims the island-nation as part of its territory, despite Taiwan being a self-governed democracy with an independent military and currency. Experts believe the Chinese regime is making significant military advances toward invading the island.
In handling Beijing’s threats of taking over Taiwan, it is “critically important” to develop partnerships with countries from the Indo-Pacific region—like Australia, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines, among others—said Del Toro in the Defense News report. He hopes to form a strong navy of 600 to 1,000 ships along with allies and partners.
Del Toro said it is also crucial to provide Taiwan with “the necessary arms and weapons and technology … to be able to defend itself,” according to Defense News. However, the U.S. maritime presence should not be limited to the South China Sea and must spread globally as “the Chinese are everywhere: they’re down the Pacific coast of Central and South America, they’re down the West Coast of Africa.” He said this is likely a result of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as “One Belt, One Road”).
China’s BRI projects have been described as debt-trap diplomacy, since the CCP provides developing nations with unpayable loans to build infrastructure—including ports. The countries are then forced to repay them by granting long-term leases of infrastructure using the loans.
Del Toro said it’s important to “understand why … [the] countries are making the investments they’re making” and see if the United States can help those nations work out their problems in safer ways.