Addressing the Air & Space Force Association’s
2023 Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, the former Raytheon executive said, “We must be ready for a kind of war we have no modern experience with.”
While noting on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 that the “threat of attack from violent extremist organizations still exists,” Kendall stressed, “China is by far our pacing challenge.”
“China has been re-optimizing its forces for great power competition and to prevail against the U.S. in the Western Pacific for over 20 years,” he continued. “China has been building a military capability specifically designed to achieve their national goals and to do so if opposed by the United States.”
The USAF secretary drew a parallel between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s interest in taking over the island nation of Taiwan.
“If our power projection capability and capacity are not adequate to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan or elsewhere, war could occur. If it does, and we cannot prevail, the results could cast a long shadow,” said Kendall.
Granted the U.S. and China have an estimated
5,244 and 410 nuclear warheads, respectively, war between the powers over Taiwan or over any other geopolitical grievance could mean many more than just the one shadow.
Kendall’s remarks came just days after the U.S. and Canadian Navies flouted Beijing’s erroneous claims over the Taiwan Strait, raising the dander of the communist regime, which subsequently threatened there was a “limit to Beijing’s patience” and that repeat transits of the strait would increase the risk of a “head-on conflict,”
reported the Guardian.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have been consistently high in the region.
Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command,
told PBS in December that he sees “the current strategic environment as really dangerous — the most dangerous time I have seen in 38 years.”
China’s “inability to operate in accordance with the rule-based order” is a destabilizing force in the region, he suggested.
The Asian nation’s
increasing internal stability may ultimately drive its regime to make matters even worse, seeking silver linings on mushroom clouds over the Pacific.
reported that there is a real possibility the CCP would start a war to distract citizens from its flagging currency, record youth unemployment, critical debt levels, and growing awareness it may never overtake the U.S. economically.
Kendall is not alone in figuring war may be on the horizon.
Four-star Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, the commander of Air Mobility Command, circulated a
memo dated Feb. 1, which said, “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi [Jinping] secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
Pentagon’s press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder
said around the time of Minihan’s memo, “China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense and our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”
2022 report on the Chinese military, the Pentagon noted that China is “the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order.”
Not only has the communist nation endeavored to develop and upgrade is conventional fighting capabilities, it has “continued to accelerate the modernization, diversification, and expansion of its nuclear forces.”
The Pentagon noted that 2049, the communist regime’s centenary, remains the deadline for this “national rejuvenation,” and that the People’s Liberation Army’s stated goal is to “‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ … (a euphemism likely for the United States), counter an intervention by a third party in a conflict along the PRC’s periphery, and project power globally.”
Sept. 5 memo to the whole of the Air Force and Space Force, Kendall echoed the Pentagon’s insights into China’s growing capability and motivations, stating, “It has been clear to me for over a decade that China is intent on fielding a force that can conduct aggression in the Western Pacific and prevail even if the United States intervenes. … We cannot sustain deterrence by standing still.”
Kendall stressed in his memo that the USAF’s optimization to support post-9/11 conflicts and demands won’t cut it “for great power competition.”
detailed the findings of a “Weapon System Sustainment” report in November, which revealed “the average mission capable rate for the selected aircraft has fallen for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, to varying degree.”
A total of 26 aircraft failed to meet their annual mission-capable goal in any fiscal year between 2011 and 2021, including the Air Force’s A-10, C-17, CV-22, F-15C/D, and F-22.
The GAO indicated that “a number of sustainment challenges including aging aircraft, maintenance challenges, and supply support issues account for this decrease in mission capable rates.”
Despite America’s present challenges, Kendall emphasized this week that despite the threat posed to the U.S. by China, the communist nation “will fail.”
While Kendall indicated in his speech that America is not presently ready for the particular kind of conflict that war with China would entail, the Washington Post
noted that for all China’s bluster, its massive military has no real combat experience whatsoever, as “the last war China fought was a brief but bloody conflict with Vietnam in 1979.”
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