On Thursday, Army Gen. Mark Milley, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top general overseeing the U.S. military, told lawmakers China is increasing its military capability at “a very serious and sustained rate.”
In his prepared remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Milley said, “China is our number one geostrategic security challenge” and the U.S. must now work harder to retain its competitive and technological edge.
“History is not deterministic, war with China is not inevitable,” Milley said. “China is clearly an increasingly capable strategic competitor and we need to keep our relationship at competition, not conflict. This is best done through integrated deterrence where the United States remains militarily strong relative to China and we retain military overmatch in all the various domains of war. If we remain militarily superior to our adversary, then conflict is less likely.”
Milley also said, “We are in an era of increased strategic competition. The current strategic landscape is witnessing rapid change and the potential for increased threat to the peace and stability of various regions and, indeed, the world.”
Milley raised up China as the number one military power on pace to overtake the U.S. during a senate hearing to discuss the proposed military budget for fiscal year 2022.
President Joe Biden’s proposed defense budget calls for about $715 billion in military spending, about seven billion dollars less than President Donald Trump’s forecast for the 2022 defense budget. Biden’s budget cuts funding on several legacy programs. The proposed budget looks to cut a Navy destroyer, four amphibious warships, MQ-9 Reaper drones and will retire 42 A-10 aircraft.
Milley said the proposed budget is the result of “hard choices” but said it in turn will balance military spending towards “continued dominance in the future.”
“This budget biases the future operating environment, the change in the character of war and against the pacing threat of China,” Milley told Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND). “That’s not to say that we’re going to stop everything with respect to A-10s, MQ-9s or some of these systems, but we’ve got to make that turn.”
During the hearing, Milley also clarified an earlier statement in which Biden called global warming the main U.S. national security risk. Speaking before U.S. troops station in the United Kingdom on the same day the Pentagon China-task force concluded its work, Biden recalled meeting with the joint chiefs of staff shortly after becoming vice president in 2009 and said, “You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming.”
“Climate change does impact, but the president is looking at a much broader angle than I am,” Milley said, according to the U.S. News and World Report. “I’m looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I’m putting China, Russia up there.”
Milley offered his comments about China a day after a Pentagon China-related task force delivered a range of mostly classified recommendations for how the Pentagon can shift its focus towards countering China as the new top “pacing threat” to U.S. interests.