According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs, said on March 9 that the Indo-Pacific region remains the priority theater for the Defense Department, and China remains the pacing challenge for the U.S. military.

According to Ely Ratner, the need for Taiwan to improve its protection is one of the lessons gained from Russia’s invasion. China is not the only threat. North Korea is working on nuclear weapons and delivery systems. According to Ratner, this poses an obvious threat to the U.S. and its allies.

Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, stated, “With Russia’s unprovoked and devastating invasion of Ukraine, we have been reminded that we can’t just focus on one part of the world. But the Indo-Pacific region is one of the most important parts.”

In February, Taiwan purchased a shore-based Harpoon missile system from the U.S. and will receive Type 4 Harpoon missiles as soon as they arrive. According to the latest notice from the Ministry of National Defense, the Harpoon missile maintenance contract has been renewed until 2025.

Ratner added, “I wish they were arriving there yesterday; we are turning over every rock to see how we can accelerate the provision of these capabilities.”

The defense officials raised that North Korea remained a regional focal point during the hearing. This country has launched nine missiles this year and has deployed some 20 ships and submarines in the Indo-Pacific region to defend its eastern flank before Ukraine’s attack.

According to Ratner, America’s most significant advantage for the Department of Defense is an unequaled network of allies and partners, which should be at the heart of any plan. The countries to develop capabilities and increase interoperability are Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Southeast Asian nations. Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Timor Leste are among them.

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