The bigger spending bill allows the Pentagon to build more ships and retire fewer. A fund specifically aimed at the Indo-Pacific was tripled from the year before. The $778 billion bill for fiscal 2022, up 5% from the prior year, cleared the House earlier this month and will be signed into law soon by President Joe Biden.
The U.S. looks to disperse its Pacific forces along the "first island chain," which spans Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Concentrating them in just a few locations risks leaving them vulnerable to a Chinese missile strike.
The legislation calls for installing an advanced missile defense system on Guam, home to a major U.S. Air Force base, as the island is a likely target for Chinese Dongfeng-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the event of a U.S.-China conflict.
Congress uses the defense bill to push the administration to pursue closer defense ties with Taiwan.
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