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The U.S. Congress last week passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is blithely referred to as the defense budget, which it is — and a whole lot more. Given the partisan divisions that ensnare most everything in U.S. politics and the readiness of virtually all small-government conservatives to fund the military, the legislation has been increasingly festooned with security-related initiatives. The 2021 bill is no exception.

This year’s NDAA includes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), which while a virtual drop in the budget — $2.2 billion in a $740.5 billion package — is a potentially big deal for regional security. Used properly, the PDI would confirm the U.S. commitment to the defense of the region and significantly strengthen the military’s ability to deter adversaries and maintain the peace. “Used properly …”

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