In the Indo-Pacific theater, American military vulnerabilities have garnered attention from US legislators, sparking significant concern. Recent war simulations have revealed a troubling prospect wherein the US could suffer a drastic loss of 90% of its aircraft not from direct air-to-air combat, but while they are grounded during a potential conflict with China.

Central to this concern is the glaring absence of robust aircraft shelters and inadequate base protection measures. This critical issue was underscored in a communication dated May 8, wherein Republican Representatives urgently called upon the Secretaries of the Navy and the Air Force to address these glaring security gaps.

Lawmakers have emphasized the sobering reality that China’s formidable arsenal could overwhelm the aerial and missile defenses meant to safeguard US bases. They have highlighted the catastrophic consequences of enemy infiltration into these bases, which could cripple vital air assets, disrupt logistical operations, and severely hamper the country’s ability to mount an effective response in conflict scenarios.

Various members of Congress have noted the vulnerability of numerous US positions in the Indo-Pacific due to insufficient fortified infrastructures. Additionally, the clustering of aircraft for maintenance and logistical purposes renders them prime targets for potential Chinese aggression, exacerbating the threat.

During simulated war games replicating a conflict with China over Taiwan, up to 90% of damage inflicted on US aircraft occurred while they were grounded, highlighting the gravity of the situation. Notable lawmakers, including Rep. John Moolenaar from Michigan, head of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, and Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, have raised these concerns.

While active defense mechanisms like air and missile defense systems are vital, their high costs and limited availability pose challenges in ensuring comprehensive coverage. Recognizing the importance of robust defensive frameworks, bipartisan consensus has emerged on the need to bolster investment in passive defenses. This encompasses measures such as hardened aircraft shelters, underground bunkers, tactical dispersion of forces, redundancy in logistical facilities, and prompt runway repair capabilities.

Expanding on their defensive doctrine, Republican strategists outlined a plan to mitigate potential Chinese missile assaults by fortifying base infrastructure with robust passive defenses. They argued that this approach would enhance the resilience of US forces, facilitating swift counterattacks, rapid recovery, and uninterrupted operations.

Recent intelligence indicates that many American and allied bases in the region lack sufficient capabilities to counter Chinese ballistic missile threats effectively. Critical defense mechanisms required to neutralize this threat are reportedly deficient. Furthermore, frontline munitions and supplies are not adequately provisioned for potential wartime demands, exacerbating concerns about the readiness of combat forces in the region amid dwindling logistics capabilities.

The glaring scarcity of structures capable of withstanding a barrage of Chinese missiles is a cause for concern. Present options are limited, with fortified underground bunkers representing the primary line of defense. Compounding the issue is China’s significant progress in constructing reinforced aircraft shelters over the past decade, with over 400 such shelters erected compared to a meager 22 by the US, predominantly in Japan and South Korea.

The absence of fortified bases in critical regions like the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, vital for projecting American influence in the Indo-Pacific, is alarming. Strengthening these strategic outposts is imperative to bolster regional security.

While reinforced bases may not guarantee absolute safety, their robustness could offer relative resistance against attacks, particularly submunitions, thereby enhancing the survivability of essential air forces.

US lawmakers have expressed concerns about the insufficient investment in enhancing the resilience of Defense Department bases. Despite the urgent need for bolstered defenses and infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific, military construction projects in the region receive minimal resource allocation, averaging only two percent of the current construction budget.

There’s a stark reality to confront—the vulnerability of US naval forces to enemy attacks, particularly from China in critical areas like the Taiwan Strait. Failure to address this underinvestment could undermine effective deterrence and response capabilities.

Policymakers are emphasizing the urgent need to address these security gaps promptly, warning of potential ripple effects endangering US safety and strategic interests in the region. Their proposed solutions entail strategic and multi-faceted approaches, including reinvestment in domestic shipbuilding, revitalization of the US Coast Guard and related entities, and substantial reinforcement of naval forces to ensure unhindered protection of maritime interests.