Ratner: Taiwan weapons transfers delayed by systemic industrial base issues

By Nick Wilson / July 20, 2023 at 1:33 PM

A senior Pentagon official is pushing back on the categorization of delayed weapons deliveries to Taiwan as a "backlog," instead saying the roughly $19 billion list of undelivered military aid is the result of systemic problems within the U.S. defense industrial base.

“What we are facing is not a backlog as is sometimes described, but rather concerns and slowdowns within all of our industrial base that is affecting our military production and our defense industrial base systematically, not individually as it relates to Taiwan,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Ely Ratner said today during a hearing held by the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

The Defense Department is working to fulfill its commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act as soon as possible, Ratner continued, saying the Biden administration is working through the foreign military sales process while also utilizing presidential drawdown authority and potentially foreign military financing (FMF).

Ratner also encouraged lawmakers to “put appropriations against the authorities that Congress itself has granted the [Defense] Department.”

“That would go a long way in expediting capability for Taiwan far faster, far sooner, and with more significant value than would adjustments to the pace of our foreign military sales,” he added.

The select committee has advocated for arming Taiwan to deter a potential invasion or blockade by China and called for the Defense and State departments to drive down FMS delays.

In May, the committee released a bipartisan plan to arm Taiwan, calling for a boost in production of long-range missiles and unmanned vehicles. The plan also proposes the exercise of greater congressional oversight of the FMS process and backing up FMF authorizations with appropriation dollars targeting the most urgently needed capabilities.

During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing earlier this year, a State Department official discussed efforts to work with U.S. contractors to accelerate delivery of items marked for Taiwan.

The State Department recently produced a 10-point plan to streamline the FMS process, acknowledging challenges posed by domestic industrial capacity and global supply chain disruptions.