Recently, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) announced their plan to shut down an entire fleet of F-15 fighter aircraft jets in Okinawa, Japan with no intention of replacing them. This comes at a time in which Communist China is appearing to be more and more aggressive within the region. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with his colleagues have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with their concerns.
The signees believe that the move “undermines efforts to deter a potential attack on Taiwan by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army and may be perceived by Beijing as a sign of weakness.”
“We believe that DoD’s plans to replace permanently-based fighters with rotational forces will lead to a tangible reduction in American forward combat power in the Indo-Pacific, lowering the bar for aggression and demonstrating a continuing mismatch between the Biden Administration’s talking points on the Indo-Pacific and America’s actual commitments in the region,” write Sen. Rubio and company.
Just a few months ago, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made headlines when she decided to take a trip to Taiwan, prompting aggressive outcries from Communist China, saying there would be repercussions if she set foot on the island. There were none. However, that does not mean that the move to retire the F-15’s would necessarily be beneficial in terms of the message that the U.S. wants to send.
“We are concerned that DoD’s decision sends the wrong signal, not only to the CCP, but also to our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. We therefore request a Congressional briefing on DoD’s actions articulating specific steps to replace the deterrent value and combat capability of any assets removed from the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the administration’s plan to establish a force posture in the Indo-Pacific that would be resilient to a CCP attack and capable of deterring an invasion of Taiwan,” concluded the legislators.
The additional signees of the letter include Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), as well as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).