‘Your Point Is Completely Valid’: Pacific Forces Chief Acknowledges The US Is Spending Too Much Downing Houthi Weapons

The head of U.S. military forces assigned to the Pacific region voiced concerns Wednesday about the cost of shooting down Houthi weapons with missiles and air defense assets needed in a conflict with China in a congressional hearing.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces have been shooting down cheap, Iranian-made missiles and drones with expensive weapons for months since attacks on international shipping and Navy vessels began in November, Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks pointed out in a yearly hearing on Indo-Pacific Command’s (INDOPACOM) posture. Many of the expensive weapons used to counter Houthi attacks could be used in the Pacific theater during a possible China fight, and the cost-benefit ratio does not favor the U.S., Adm. John Aquilino, the outgoing commander, told the House Armed Services Committee.

“We’ve used well over 100 of these missiles to shoot down Houthi drones that cost 100 times less than our own missiles rather than saving them for a potential fight with China,” Banks said. (RELATED: Indo-Pacific Command Asks For Staggering $11 Billion More Than Biden Budget Request Amid China Threat)

Troops in the Middle East “are fighting with what they got, and we should never ask them to stop or conserve,” Aquilino responded. “What we do have to do is move forward on our directed energy path to be able to get on the right side of this cost curve. So your point is completely valid.”

Banks asked whether the high rate of expenditure was eating into the number of air and missile defense assets INDOPACOM expected to get in the coming year, once Congress approves the military’s spending request.

“Those missiles coming off those destroyers, those SM-2s” — Standard-Missile 2s — “are resident in my theater, on my destroyers.”

“We need to make sure that the capabilities I’ve identified are delivered at a relevant time and that we ought to accelerate the technologies that get us back in the right place” cost-wise, he said.

CENTOM has been reporting near daily incidents of shooting down Houthi missiles and drones to prevent them from striking commercial ships or U.S. and partner navy assets.

Banks pressed further on the “obvious trade-off” of firing off $2 million missiles to defend against low-tech weapons while INDOPACOM seeks to boost its stockpiles in order to deter or, perhaps, fight with China.


“Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific is real and strong and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way,” Ely Ratner, the Department of Defense’s top civilian official for Indo-Pacific policy matters, told Banks.

The Biden administration requested $2.3 billion more for programs related to the Indo-Pacific theater in its budget request for fiscal year 2025, released March 11, than for the previous year, Ratner pointed out.

“We are doing everything we can to focus on the pacing challenge,” Ratner said.

Despite suffering a 30% economic downturn, China continues to inflate its military budget and is rapidly approaching U.S. capabilities in certain domains, officials told Congress.

The military has “tough choices” to make when it comes to investing in future defense while dealing with immediate challenges, such as that of the Houthis, Aquilino said. The U.S. must act “with a sense of urgency,” he said.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact [email protected].