Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley’s prognosis, offered on Tuesday as he asked Congress for more money for the Pentagon, is for an era where large-scale war between major powers is a possibility.
“We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable, and the potential for significant international conflict between great powers is increasing, not decreasing.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens “not only European peace and stability but global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend,” Milley said.
He actually isn’t asking for enough money for the Pentagon, according to many Republicans and some moderate Democrats, who noted the Department of Defensedidn’t properly account for inflation when it requested $773 billion for the2023 fiscal year — a 4% boost that is less than inflation, which is currently the highest it’s been in 40 years.
To better account for inflation, there are calls for the Pentagon to get more than what it asked for. The war in Ukraine and warnings like Milley’s will only focus Americans that much more on security.
The threat Russia poses to America’s NATO allies in Europe is clear from the invasion of Ukraine, but Milley referred to Russia in the same breath as China.
The growth of China’s military, particularly its navy, has concerned American defense officials and lawmakers in recent years.
A new arms race. An emblem of concerns about US military dominance is the very specific focus in recent weeks on hypersonic missiles.
“The US has placed a renewed emphasis on hypersonic weapons following successful Russian and Chinese tests in recent months, exacerbating the concern in Washington that the US is falling behind on a military technology considered critical for the future,” CNN’s Oren Liebermann recently wrote.
There is a growing narrative — not unlike the one pushed by President Joe Biden that the US is falling behind to China in its technological capacity — that the US military is falling behind China’s.
“Unprecedented Chinese military modernization has enabled them to leapfrog us in key capabilities,” Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama said at the hearing Tuesday. “The Chinese Communist Party now controls the largest army and navy in the world. It has more troops, more ships and more hypersonic missiles than the United States.”
To find out more about what the USknows about China’s military capacity and spending, I reached out to Matthew P. Funaiole, a China expert, data analyst and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Six key points from our phone conversation, lightlyedited for clarity and length, are below.
1. China has a long-term strategic goal that involves the US
FUNAIOLE: China wants to establish itself as the premier power broker in the Indo-Pacific, displace the US in that sense, and it sees its military as one of the primary means of doing that … you see that materializing in a number of different ways.
The one that gets a lot of attention is China upgrading its navy and all the efforts that it’s put…