The United States faces losing influence in the world because its partners are looking to buy military equipment and training from its rivals, particularly Russia and China, who offer cheaper weapons and can supply them faster, General Joseph L. Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) warned in a statement to the House Armed Services Committee.
According to Votel, the United States increasingly relies on “interoperability” in its military operations – using its allies to accomplish common objectives – and so its programs to supply partners with the equipment and training they need are vital in maintaining this cooperation, Newsweek reported. The general made reference to U.S. government-funded Building Partner Capacity (BPC) programs, which “encompass security cooperation and security assistance activities,” and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).
“However, due to political considerations, cost, or delivery speed, some of our partners are seeking alternate sources of military equipment from near-peer competitors like Russia and China. When our partners go elsewhere, it reduces our interoperability and challenges our ability to incorporate their contributions into theater efforts,” Votel said.
Last year the State Department spent 5.7 billion dollars on Foreign Military Financing. The aid went to 53 countries including 150 millions for Iraq, 350 millions for Jordan and 3.1 billion dollars for Israel. Votel accused Russia of acting as “arsonist and firefighter” in Syria by fueling the conflict in Syria between the Syrian Regime, YPG, and Turkey, then claiming to serve as an arbiter to resolve the dispute.
“Moscow continues to advocate for alternate diplomatic initiatives to Western-led political negotiations in Syria and Afghan-led peace processes in Afghanistan, attempting to thwart the UN’s role and limit the advance of American influence,” he emphasized.
According to him, Russia’s actions in Syria established Moscow as a long-term player in the region. The general thinks that Russia is using the conflict in Syria to test and exercise new weapons and tactics, often with little regard for collateral damage or civilian casualties.
“An increase in Russian surface-to-air missile systems in the region threatens our access and ability to dominate the airspace,” he said.