A Republican on the House Armed Services Committee promoted building a missile-focused anti-navy to counter China’s growing military strength in the short term before the U.S. Navy could appreciably grow.

While the U.S. government cannot increase the size of the Navy to the goal of 355-plus ships within the next five years when there are concerns China could decide to invade Taiwan in that timeframe, it can “build an anti-navy,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said at a Heritage Foundation event on Oct. 18.

“And by anti-navy I mean asymmetric forces and weapons designed to target the Chinese navy, deny control of the seas surrounding Taiwan and prevent [People’s Liberation Army] amphibious forces from gaining a lodgment on the island,” he continued.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.)
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.)

Gallagher argued the PLA rocket force is currently China’s anti-navy that fields low-cost weapons to keep U.S. Navy ships out of a potential fight by targeting American forces in a small number of fixed locations. 

“We must use the same logic against them. Building an anti-navy that can sink PLA ships and amphibious landing craft in port, in the strait, and on Taiwan’s beaches.”

Gallagher represents a Wisconsin district with Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipbuilder, which builds the Navy’s Freedom– variant Littoral Combat Ships and the upcoming new Constellation-class frigate.

He said that since the U.S. is no longer part of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty the U.S. should “surge long-range conventional precision fires in three concentric rings across the Pacific,” in the first part of an anti-navy.

The rings consist of the first island chain, the second island chain plus the Central Pacific islands, and lastly the outer edges of the theater including Alaska, Hawaii and Australia.

“In the first ring we need shorter range anti-ship and air defense missiles such as the Naval Strike Missile, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile and [Standard Missile-6]. These weapons will be operated by Army and Marine Corps stand-in forces, especially in the Southern Japanese and Northern Philippine islands.”

Gallagher argued that these inner ring weapons should be containerized when possible to confuse Chinese targeting of them.

The concept would then have the second ring use extended range Maritime Strike Tomahawks and other intermediate range missiles, while the third ring would feature longer range intermediate missiles “with advanced energetic materials in places like Alaska and Australia’s Northern Territory.”

He said the second part of building an anti-navy is stockpiling munitions, a lesson from the war in Ukraine.

At current production rates, for example, it will take at least two years to boost Javelin production from 2,100 to 4,000 missiles annually. And in many cases, Chinese companies are the sole source for a primary supplier for the energetic materials that are used in our missiles. To fix this, the Pentagon should stop buying minimum sustaining rates of critical munitions, and start maxing out the capacity of active production lines through multi-year procurement contracts,” Gallagher said.

He said the government should speed this along by altering the Defense Production Act to use it to provide direct project financing, automatic fast tracking of permits and investment in defense workforce training.

Gallagher compared this effort to how former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates focused on shifting U.S. military vehicles in Iraq from Humvees to Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

“The next Secretary of Defense must similarly make rebuilding our munitions industrial base a personal crusade,” he said.

Gallagher argued the third part of building this anti-navy “is to turn all of the talk about arming Taiwan to the teeth into reality.”

Gallagher argued this means Taiwan should be moved to the front of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) line and the U.S. should clear the “backlog of $14 billion worth of FMS items that have been approved but not delivered to Taiwan.”

He said Congress can also provide direct financial assistance to Taiwan and give the Defense Department the same drawdown authority to directly provide defense articles to Taiwan that it already had for Ukraine. 

“For example, rather than demilitarizing hundreds of Harpoon missiles or putting them into deep storage, the Pentagon can utilize the Taiwan drawdown authority and make any modernizations or necessary certifications and send these missiles along with their associated launchers to Taiwan.”

Gallagher also argued in favor of increasing the size and frequency of American active duty and National Guard rotations on Taiwan, comparing that to President Eisenhower’s actions during the first two Taiwan Strait crises.

He said to pay for these changes and increase the size of the Navy topline the government could reduce the size of the DoD civilian workforce; the Joint Staff; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; the overall number of flag and general officers; and the “fast-growing” Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy.

Gallagher also said he is in favor of recycling “valuable assets that contribute nothing to warfighting” like golf courses and using recommendations from the 2015 Defense Business Board study of DoD’s core business practices, which identified potentially up to $125 billion in savings over five years.

“More than enough to build both the anti-navy and the Navy the nation needs.”