US military chief Dunford: China is main threat to security

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on September 26, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Aaron P Bernstein

 

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff set out new US military strategies and policies toward China and Asia in a senate hearing

China was identified this week as posing the most significant long-term military challenge to the United States by America’s senior-most military leader, as he set out new US military strategies and policies toward China and Asia more generally in a congressional hearing.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, also revealed in the hearing, before senate, that he had informed China last summer of US plans to use military force against North Korea.

Dunford was asked to rank various military threats and identified nuclear missile-armed North Korea as presenting an “immediate” threat, with Russia and China posing potential dangers based on their growing nuclear arsenals.

“We don’t actually have the luxury of identifying a single threat today, unfortunately, nor, necessarily, to look at it in a linear fashion,” Dunford said.

The four-star Marine Corps general then went on to say that, over the longer term, China represents the most significant danger, overshadowing the nuclear and cyber power of Moscow.

“If I look out to 2025, and I look at the demographics and the economic situation, I think China probably poses the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025, and that’s consistent with much of our analysis,” Dunford said.

The comments echoed those of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who said in July that he believes China is the most significant regional security threat. “I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America… over the medium and long term,” he said.

The Chinese military buildup of missiles, warships, submarines and aircraft, along with cyber-warfare and other non-kinetic tools of warfare, is aimed at limiting the United States’ ability to project power and also to weaken American alliances in the Pacific.

China has closely studied US warfare weapons and tactics and has developed both arms and strategies that will enable its weaker forces to defeat US military forces in a future conflict, he said, adding that the gap has been closed between the two militaries over the last decade and a half.

In 2000, “we had a significant competitive advantage in our ability to project power when and where needed to advance our national interest,” Dunford said. “I can’t say that today. We are challenged in our ability to project power, both to Europe and in the Pacific, as a result of those threats.”

Dunford also expressed concern about China’s growing space warfare capabilities, including the development of satellite-killing missiles and multiple tests of high technology weapons.

“When we fielded the current space capabilities, we didn’t field them with resilience to the current threat in mind,” he said.

The 500 US satellites that are strategic assets – used in both military and civilian communications and navigation, as well as intelligence and weapons-guiding – are vulnerable to attack from the Chinese, as well as by anti-satellite weapons being developed by Russia and North Korea.

In written policy statements to the Senate Armed Services Committee, to which Dunford testified on September 26, the chairman also noted China’s willingness to use economic leverage to advance the Communist Party of China’s political objectives in the region.

“As China’s military modernization continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China’s influence,” he stated.

The key to backing allies and limiting Chinese regional hegemony will be sustaining the US military presence and strengthening regional security partnerships “to help allies and partners stand up to Chinese coercive behavior,” he stated, adding that the military is unilaterally continuing to build capabilities aimed at countering Beijing’s improving military forces.

Full article: US military chief Dunford: China is main threat to security (Asia Times)

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