Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall stated that China has been preparing for war against the United States for more than two decades.
China has been preparing for war against the United States for over two decades, including the formation of new military services specifically designed to attack U.S. assets, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall on Sept. 11.
During his keynote address at the Air and Space Forces Association’s 2023 Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, Kendall mentioned that China has been optimizing its forces for more than 20 years in order to gain an advantage over the U.S. in the Western Pacific region.
Kendall revealed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has established two new military services. One is a “rocket force” that focuses on attacking U.S. high-value assets like aircraft carriers and forward airfields. The second service is the “strategic support forces,” which is responsible for achieving information dominance in the space and cyber domains.
Kendall emphasized the need for the United States to optimize its forces and be prepared for a type of war with no modern experience.
While he stated that war is not inevitable, Kendall urged Congress to confirm all military nominations, pass a full-year budget, and avoid gridlock to prevent a government shutdown.
He stated, “Our job is to deter that war and to be ready to win if it occurs. 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.”
The memo stated, “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.”
Challenges Posed by Authoritarian Nations
In April, Adm. John Aquilino, head of the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command, stated that while conflict in the Indo-Pacific is not inevitable, complacency is not an option and competition is key to secure a peaceful future.
Adm. Aquilino pointed out the CCP’s alliance with Russia, as well as its support for destabilizing actions by nations like North Korea and Iran, as evidence of the ongoing challenge posed by the Chinese regime.
He added, “Two large authoritarian nations 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. That’s a pretty concerning space to be in.”
To deter a conflict in the coming years, Adm. Aquilino emphasized the importance of competition and highlighted his command’s readiness for any contingency in the Indo-Pacific region. However, he noted that Chinese forces have worsened regional security by refusing to communicate with the U.S. military for almost two years.
Adm. Aquilino 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.”
The CCP suspended communications between U.S. and Chinese military commanders in the Indo-Pacific as part of retaliatory measures announced in August 2022 following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.