After a US general caused consternation with a memo warning that the United States would fight China in the next two years, a top Republican Congressman said on Sunday said the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan are very high.
The new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives, Mike McCaul, was commenting on the content of the private memo – dated Feb. 1 but released on Friday- written by General Mike Minihan, a four-star head of the Air Mobility Command, to his top commanders – to all air wing commanders in Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders- in which he says that he has a gut feeling of a possible fight in 2025.
Minihan pointed out that both the United States and Taiwan are potentially creating an opportunity for China to take military action with its scheduled presidential elections in 2024.
With nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes, Air Mobility Command is responsible for transportation and refueling. Minihan’s memo instructed the officers to get ready to prep for the China fight and to report all major efforts to him by Feb. 28.
Among the goals, he outlined a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.
Stressing he hopes that Gen. Minihan is wrong, McCaul said that nevertheless thinks he is right, pointing out that there are very high odds of a conflict with China and Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.
McCaul noted that the US has to be prepared for the highly probable situation in which China will pursue – or at least going to look at- military invasion if it fails to take control of Taiwan bloodlessly.
He accused the Biden Democratic administration of projecting weakness after the controversial pullout from Afghanistan that could make war with China more likely.
A ranking member of the Armed Service Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, pushed back against Minihan’s assessment and McCaul’s prediction.
Although he also said that anything is possible, Smith underscored that he’s really worried when anyone starts talking about inevitable war with China, noting that he’s confident that any conflict can be avoided if they take the right approach.
Smith warned that, being in a very dangerous situation in China, the US generals must be very cautious about saying they’re going to an inevitable war, reiterating that Washington needs to be in a position to deter China from military action against Taiwan.
The White House refused to comment on McCaul’s remarks, but Pentagon distanced itself from Minihan’s memo on Saturday, noting the general’s comments were not representative of the department’s view on China.
Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder reiterated in a statement Pentagon’s formal policy on China which makes clear that, in line with the National Defense Strategy, China is the pacing challenge for the DoD and its focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.
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