March 04, 2020

Duckworth Raises Concerns to Esper & Milley about Lack of Investment in Indo-Pacific Strategy, Logistics Infrastructure


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – At today’s U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) expressed her concerns to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about how the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has not sufficiently prioritized funding for INDOPACOM—the unified combatant command of the U.S. Armed Forces responsible for the Indo-Pacific region—and logistics infrastructure capabilities. Duckworth focused on how the Administration’s decisions to divert $7 billion in defense funding to border wall construction could affect military readiness, as well as its decision to cut funding for our tanker fleet and provide only an anemic investment in sealift replacement. Video of Duckworth’s questions at the hearing is available here.

Key quotes from Duckworth’s question line:

  • “While I applaud the Department’s messaging about prioritizing great power competition in this region over other activities, I do remain concerned that we have not matched our rhetoric with our actions.”
  • “How are we able to divert some $7 billion to border wall construction and yet still credibly say that the Pacific region is our main effort?”
  • “The Chinese are really moving ahead of us when it comes to basing issues there. We have to have more than a little toehold there to ensure freedom of navigation.”
  • “I’m deeply concerned about our ability to transport and sustain our forces overseas, especially in places like INDOPACOM. Contested logistics is something I believe we need to pay far more attention to.”