China Built New Military Specifically Designed to Attack US Assets: Air Force Secretary

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said that China has been preparing for war against the United States for over two decades.
China Built New Military Specifically Designed to Attack US Assets: Air Force Secretary
U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on April 19, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly
9/13/2023
Updated:
9/13/2023
0:00

China has been preparing for war against the United States for more than two decades, including forming new military services specifically designed to attack U.S. assets, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said on Sept. 11.

Speaking at the Air and Space Forces Association’s 2023 Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, Mr. Kendall said China has been optimizing its forces “to prevail against the U.S.” in the Western Pacific for more than 20 years.

“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 secretary said in his keynote address.

Mr. Kendall said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created two new military services, including a “rocket force” specifically designed to attack U.S. high-value assets, aircraft carriers, and forward airfields.

The second military service is the “strategic support forces,” designed and equipped “to achieve information dominance in the space and cyber domains,” he said.

Mr. Kendall said the United States must optimize its forces and be ready for “a kind of war we have no modern experience with.”

War is “not inevitable,” he said, but Congress must overcome a blockade on confirming all military nominations, pass a full-year budget, and avoid gridlock that could lead to the government shutting down.

“Our job is to deter that war and to be ready to win if it occurs,” Mr. Kendall said. “We’re all talking about the fact that the Air and Space forces must change, or we could fail to prevent and might even lose a war.”

His remarks follow a memo (pdf) that he sent to the Air and Space forces on Sept. 5, in which he called for a commitment to put his operational imperatives in place to address the challenges posed by the CCP.

“It has become clear to the entire senior leadership team that we are not optimized for great power competition. Over more than two decades, we have optimized to support post-9/11 conflicts and demands; this is not what the nation needs for the coming decades of strategic competition,” the memo reads.

“Accordingly, we will conduct a major initiative over the next several months to identify and implement the changes needed to meet our pacing challenge. This initiative will involve a comprehensive look at all aspects of how we organize, train, and equip the Air Force and Space Force.”

Challenges Posed by Authoritarian Nations

Adm. John Aquilino, who heads the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command, said in April that while conflict in the Indo-Pacific isn’t inevitable, “we cannot rest on our past accomplishments to secure a peaceful future.”
Adm. John C. Aquilino discusses U.S.–China strategic competition at The Paley Center for Media in New York on May 23, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Adm. John C. Aquilino discusses U.S.–China strategic competition at The Paley Center for Media in New York on May 23, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

He pointed to the CCP’s alliance with Russia and its increasing willingness to support destabilizing actions from powers such as North Korea and Iran as evidence of the ongoing challenge posed by the regime.

“Two large authoritarian nations [are] coming together in an attempt to change the world order in ways that are beneficial to authoritarian governments [as opposed to] the rest of the world,” Adm. Aquilino said. “That’s a pretty concerning space to be in.”

Competition, not complacency, would be key to deterring a conflict in the coming years, he said.

With that competition in mind, Adm. Aquilino said his command “is ready and prepared for any contingency” in the Indo-Pacific but that communist Chinese forces have frequently made regional security matters worse through their refusals to communicate with the U.S. military.

Indeed, for nearly two years, the regime’s officers have refused to communicate with him, he said.

“I have had a standing ask to meet with the Eastern Theater commander and the Southern Theater commander from the [Chinese military] for my entire time in this job, and they have yet to accept it,” Adm. Aquilino said.

In August 2022, the CCP announced retaliatory measures against the United States and its partners following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan. Key among those measures was the cancellation of communications between U.S. and Chinese military commanders in the Indo-Pacific.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.
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