WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Senate confirmed a new chief for Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John C. Aquilino, by unanimous consent Wednesday.

Aquilino, the former head of U.S. Pacific Fleet, told lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he thinks China is viewing an annexation of Taiwan as its “No. 1 priority.”

“The rejuvenation of the Chinese Communist Party is at stake,” with regard to Taiwan, Aquilino said. He added that “the status of the United States as a partner with our allies and partners also is at stake, should we have a conflict in Taiwan.”

Aquilino declined to affirm the assessment China could try to invade Taiwan in as little as six years (which outgoing commander Adm. Phil Davidson has said). However, Aquilino acknowledged “this problem is much closer to us than most think,” and that it requires a proposed Pacific Deterrence Initiative funding pool be realized, “in the near term, and with urgency.”

A report from the command delivered last month calls for roughly $27 billion in additional spending between 2022 and 2027; with $4.6 billion for fiscal year 2022 alone. That includes a multi-billion-dollar air defense capability in Guam.

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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