The US military needs more long-range weaponry in the western Pacific, including ground-based arms, the top US admiral for the Asia-Pacific said on Tuesday.
His comments underline Washington’s concerns about China’s growing military strength, particularly its missile capabilities, reports Reuters.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said the US intends to compete with China’s growing influence and military strength in the Asia-Pacific and to that end, the Pentagon is carrying out a review of its strategy in the region.
“A wider base of long-range precision fires, which are enabled by all our terrestrial forces – not just sea and air but by land forces as well – is critically important to stabilise what is becoming a more unstable environment in the western Pacific,” Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Davidson remarked on enthusiasm by the Army and Marine Corps “to embrace some of the capabilities that the Navy and Air Force have already developed”.
The Indo-Pacific Command has said the US needs increased ground-based weapons along the first island chain, which is the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago, through Taiwan, the Philippines and on to Borneo, enclosing China’s coastal seas.
While the US has been able to use long-range weapons on ships and aircraft, there are limits because of an arms control treaty.
However, the US pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia in 2019 under former president Donald Trump.
One potential stumbling block to such plans is that while the Pentagon has said it is in favour of placing such missiles in the region, allies in Asia have so far appeared to be opposed to the idea of hosting them, possibly out of reluctance to antagonise China.