Congressman says US deterrence strategy failed to protect Ukraine and could also frustrate Taiwan

WASHINGTON — The Russian invasion of Ukraine should show U.S. military and congressional leaders the importance of arming Taiwan before conflict erupts, a lawmaker argued at a March 3 hearing.

Representative Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, questioned whether the concept of “integrated deterrence” – which implements whole-of-government solutions from the United States and its allies and partners – had been effective against Russia or could work. against China.

“This is the first test, a real-world test, of integrated deterrence, and it failed. We have to learn from that,” Gallagher said of Russia during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Built-in deterrence has become a key goal for the Biden administration. It calls for deterring aggression before it begins by bringing the threat of joint military capabilities in everything from whole-of-government actions – from sanctions to diplomatic talks to financial and other measures taken by State Departments , Treasury, Homeland Security. and more across the federal government — and the power of allies and partners around the world.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said last year that the concept “will inform almost everything we do.”

“In terms of integration… we mean, integrated across all domains – so conventional, nuclear, cyber, space, informational,” he said. “[It is also] integrated across the theaters of competition and potential conflict [and] integrated across the full spectrum of conflict, from high-intensity warfare to gray area.

Kahl referred to scenarios such as Russia trying to take over non-NATO countries like Ukraine or Georgia, or China trying to take over Taiwan, laying out the need for a built-in deterrence as key to US policy.

“We at [the] The Department of Defense must have the capabilities and the concepts to negate the kind of quick fait accompli scenarios we know potential adversaries are planning, so they can’t quickly rush on our partners and allies before they only believe the United States can show up,” he said.

But Gallagher argued during the hearing that current policy may place too much emphasis on non-military tools.

“My bias is that you have to put hard power in the way of people like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or [President of the People’s Republic of China] Xi Jinping to have a hope of deterrence. … I want to dissuade; we all want to deter. We do not want to face an incursion into NATO. We certainly don’t want to face a conflict over Taiwan,” he said.

“But if the built-in deterrence is a smokescreen to reduce our investments in hard power and somehow believe in this untested technology that won’t come into use until the end of the decade or the next decade, or allies, or statements coming out of Davos or the [United Nations]can substitute for hard power, I think we’re going to see more deterrence failures,” he said.

Gallagher has previously criticized plans to cut the Navy’s surface ship fleet to free up funds for future technologies such as unmanned systems.

Although he refrained from saying what hard force should be put “in the way” of Putin today, he lamented how difficult it was to get additional weapons into Ukraine now that Russia invaded.

“The best lesson I think we can take from this is actually in a different theater, it’s in [Indo-Pacific Command]. The lesson is that we need to think about how we arm Taiwan yesterday. After things start to blow up, it will be difficult to build support,” Gallagher said.

“We are engaged in the process of trying to deter [China] by denial. And the threat of sanctions and the threat of the harshly worded tweet from the State Department press secretary will not deter Xi Jinping.

Also during the hearing, Representative Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, raised concerns about Russian naval forces heading to the major Ukrainian port city of Odessa. He asked if the US Navy could do anything to keep Ukraine’s third-largest city safe, despite it not being allowed to enter the Black Sea.

Turkey controls the two straits that lead from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, and it has decided to close the straits to all warships, including Russian warships that are not part of the Black Sea Fleet and returning to their home port.

Admiral William Lescher, vice chief of naval operations, told Wilson during the hearing that naval assets did not need to be in the Black Sea to hit targets or protect towns there.

“The investments we’ve made…provide the scope to give our combatant commander the opportunity to deliver the effects we need from multiple bodies of water,” the admiral said, speaking from European Command. United States.

Lescher hailed Turkey’s decision to close the strait to warships as a positive example of “integrated deterrence by the U.S. Navy, by joint force, by the whole of government, which you see being done very well, and through our allies and partners. And so this closure influences, obviously, the ability of Russian ships to head into the Black Sea in a way that has far more impact on them than our combatant commander.

Megan Eckstein is a naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is an alumnus of the University of Maryland.

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