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US has ‘potential to lose’ to China, Air Force chief says

Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trey Ward)
July 12, 2022

Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, warned this week that there is “potential to lose” to China if the United States military doesn’t change its focus from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific.

During an appearance on CNN on Monday, Brown said he was directing the U.S. Air Force to focus on “long-term” challenges outside the Middle East, particularly those that he believes can happen “very insidiously.”

“You think about what’s happened for the United States and the United States military. We’ve been focused in the Middle East for some say the past 20 years, but for the United States Air Force, I’d say over 30 years, going back to Desert Storm. Because of that, we’ve really got to start changing our focus to what is our long-term challenge,” Brown said when asked about China’s apparently increasing strength and dominance.

“And if we don’t pay attention and let this happen very insidiously, then my concern is we will wake up one day and be in a position where we’re not in a position we want to be in and there is potential to lose.”

“That’s a real possibility,” he continued. “But that’s my focus as a Chief of Staff: to make sure we’re organized, trained and equipped, along with our joint partners here in the United States military and with our allies and partners. And that we focus on that threat so that we can preserve the international order that we’ve all known well since the end of World War II.”

Earlier in the interview, Brown explained that his experience as commander of Pacific Air Forces is the basis for his focus in the region.

“But I really started to think about what we have not been paying attention to as closely within the Indo-Pacific. And because of that, one of the things I’ve tried to do as I’ve come into my position, I wrote my strategic approach to accelerate, change or lose, because I knew some things we needed to change,” he said. “At the same time, one of the action orders I have is on competition. And that action order is really focused on how do we better and deepen our understanding of the geo-strategic environment, particularly in the Indo-Pacific and with the People’s Republic of China as our basic challenge.”

“Raising our awareness, understanding there’s a threat, understanding the impact, and not only how we as a military participate in our national security, but all other parts of our interagency, with our allies and partners, and how all of that comes together,” Brown added. “It’s a campaign of learning, is what I would call it.”