24th March 2023 – (Washington) U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin announced on Thursday the formation of a “Tiger Team” to ensure that Taiwan’s military needs are met amidst mounting threats from China and difficulties in fulfilling weapons orders due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Congressman Ken Calvert raised concerns about the slow pace of U.S. defence articles during a recent visit to Taiwan and asked Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark A. Milley about the critical defence needs of Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as steps being taken to expedite the shipment of weapons.
Austin acknowledged the challenges posed by the pandemic’s impact on supply chains and the struggles of U.S. manufacturers in keeping up with demand. He expressed confidence that U.S. weapons makers will eventually be able to address the backlog in Foreign Military Sales (FMS), and revealed that he had formed a “Tiger Team” months ago to deal with FMS shortfalls and “identify logjams and work through those logjams” to expedite the production of crucial weapons systems.
The Secretary of Defence stated that he had also formed a group of senior leaders within the Department of Defence to focus on the issue on a weekly basis, to ensure that the department is providing Taiwan with the necessary capability. He emphasised that the issue remains a top priority for the department, and that the “Tiger Team” will work to address the logjams in the delivery of critical defence equipment.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal in September 2022, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen H. Hicks signed a memorandum in August to establish a “Tiger Team” led by Sasha Baker, deputy undersecretary of defence in charge of weapons procurement and logistical support. The team includes representatives from the armed services to examine inefficiencies in U.S. arms sales to foreign countries.