May 05, 2023

Duckworth: DoD needs to think ahead in the Indo-Pacific

Source: Politico


Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is pictured. | Getty Images

As worries about Chinese aggression toward Taiwan increase, Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-Ill.) wants the Defense Department to do what it hasn’t always done well enough in the past: coordinate with allies so that everyone is prepared for global conflicts.

“I am deeply, deeply concerned about our logistics capabilities and that we often don’t plan enough,” Duckworth, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NatSec Daily.

On Wednesday, she introduced the Energy Security for Overseas Troops Act, which would require the Pentagon to take steps to make sure the U.S. military and its allies have the fuel, water and other resources necessary for troops stationed abroad.

The Illinois Democrat, an Iraq War veteran, cited a RAND study which found that more than half of U.S. combat-related casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were directly tied to convoys that had issues resupplying fuel and water to troops. The bill would require DoD to examine which allies to work with and what they need to ensure military preparedness, then report back to Congress.

“We need to start thinking now about what our energy needs are going to be in a contested environment and not after China launches an invasion on Taiwan,” the senator said.

There’s been a lot of movement recently to prepare for potential conflict with China in the Indo-Pacific, the most notable being Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER’s announcement of his China Competition Bill 2.0. That bipartisan effort will involve curbing the flow of U.S. investments and advanced tech to Beijing; investing in American businesses and building the future workforce; persuading allies to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and deterring Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

Duckworth said working on other areas like economic policy and fixing supply chain issues are critical, too.

“What Chuck has outlined here, his five points are very valid,” she said. “But I think it’s something we need to be doing across all fields of operation, not just the military but economically as well. That’s where engaging with [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] is so critically important.”