Top US General Calls for More Hi-Tech Weapons to Compete With China

Gen. Milley said the US needs a 500 ship navy if it is serious about "great power" competition

On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the US should focus more on hi-tech battle equipment to maintain superiority over China. The commander said the US should utilize things like artificial intelligence, robotics, and hypersonic weapons.

“We are in the middle of a fundamental change in the character of war,” Milley said at a virtual conference. He said whoever masters precision-guided missiles, drones, and other advanced equipment would be “decisive” in war.

“If you put in artificial intelligence and you do man-machine teaming, add that to robotics, put in precision munitions and the ability to sense and see, throw in a few hypersonic weapons, and you’ve got a fundamental shift,” Milley said.

Milley said robotic weapons will be everywhere in 10 to 15 years and warned that China is rapidly developing such capabilities. “They would like to not only match us but exceed us, dominate us, be able to beat us in armed conflict by mid-century,” he said.

China has served as a useful competitor for the US military, with the Pentagon releasing report after report hyping the threat of Beijing to justify more military spending. One example of this is the focus on the number of ships China has in its navy.

In September, the Pentagon released a report on China’s military power. The report said China has the largest navy fleet in the world, with “an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines.” The US Navy currently has just under 300 battle-ready ships. But the amount of vessels a country has is not the only judge of its naval power. The US Navy far exceeds Beijing’s navy in terms of tonnage.

The US military is currently planning to have 350 ships by 2030. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper touted a plan to increase the fleet to 500 ships, an idea that Milley is also a proponent of.

“If you’re serious about great power competition and deterring great power war, and you’re serious about having dominant capability over something like China … 500 (ships) is probably your entrance ticket,” Milley said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.