(TheLastPatriotNews.com) – Republican members of the U.S. Congress are alarmed by President Joe Biden’s plans to remove dozens of U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets from the critically important Kadena base on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
The fighter jet pullout about to be implemented by Biden’s Department of Defense comes at a time when Communist China is increasingly assertive in the region, and the North Korean threat is more severe than ever. The threats have prompted U.S. ally Japan to mull doubling its defense spending.
Pentagon officials insist that U.S. fighter jet presence on Okinawa will remain “steady” through rotational deployments, including by bringing F-22 Raptor jets from Europe.
However, key members of the U.S. Congress led by Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio are not convinced. The F-15 Eagles slated for removal from the Kadena Air Base are about half of the roughly 100 US fighter jets based in Japan.
“While we agree with the need to modernize the Air Force’s fleet in order to counter the rising threat of [China’s] People’s Liberation Army, we are concerned with reporting that indicates there will be no permanent presence to replace the Okinawa F-15s,” four Republican congressmen wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Besides Rubio, the letter is signed by Sen. Bill Haggerty of Tennessee, Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
As the GOP retook the U.S. House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections, McCaul and Gallagher are set to become the new chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel, The Washington Times reported.
The Republican lawmakers focused in their letter on the increasingly belligerent stance of Communist China and its leader Xi Jinping, who has made it “abundantly clear” China is seeking to capture Taiwan and become the supreme power in the Indo-Pacific region.
“[The F-15s pullout would have] catastrophic strategic, geopolitical, military and economic consequences for U.S. interests,” the Republican congressmen wrote.
“We believe that [the Pentagon’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,” they added.
The report pointed out that Biden’s Defense Department “appears to be moving ahead despite the concerns” expressed by the Republicans.
The first two squadrons of F-15s are “being prepared for return to the U.S.,” while F-22A Raptors from Alaska have been sent to Okinawa on a temporary rotation mission.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a new defense initiative to double the country’s defense spending from the post-World War II level of 1% to 2% of GDP.
The latter is the funding threshold recommended to members of the US-led NATO alliance in North America and Europe, which does not include Japan.
“No time can be lost for the enhancement of our defense capabilities, including the buildup of vessels [and] reinforcement of capabilities to respond to missile attacks,” Kishida said.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 17, 2022