A four-star US Air Force general thinks a war between the US and China is only two years away and has ordered his forces to start preparing for the conflict.
In a memo obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, the head of Air Mobility Command, said of a war with China, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025.”
AMC is a major command of the US Air Force and is responsible for transportation and refueling. Nearly 50,000 airmen are members of AMC, and the command oversees about 430 aircraft.
Rep. Michael McCaul, the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he believes Minihan’s prediction is right. “I hope he is wrong. … I think he is right though,” McCaul told Fox News on Sunday.
Later on Sunday, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, pushed back on the prediction and said it was “highly unlikely” the US and China would be at war in 2025. “Generals need to be very cautious about saying we’re going to war,” Smith said.
In his memo, Minihan claimed because the US and Taiwan are both holding presidential elections in 2024, they will be distracted, giving China the opportunity to move on Taiwan.
For their part, China has recently reiterated that it seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but won’t rule out the use of force. China has an interest in not invading Taiwan due to its robust trade relationship with the island and the sheer difficulty of such a large-scale amphibious invasion.
But China has stepped up its military activity around Taiwan due to increasing US support for Taipei. Despite Beijing’s warnings, the US continues to boost ties with Taiwan, including by providing unprecedented military aid. At some point, this support could become intolerable for China, and Beijing could take actions short of an invasion, such as a blockade or attacking small islands that Taiwan controls off mainland China’s coast.
A war between the US and China could also be sparked in the South China Sea, where the US has increased its military presence in recent years. US and Chinese warplanes and warships occasionally have close encounters in the area, and with US-China relations at such a low point, an accident could spiral into a wider conflict.
Minihan told the officers he commands to report all major efforts they take to prepare for war with China by February 28. He said during the month of February, all AMC personnel should “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.”
Minihan also called for his personnel to get their affairs in order as they prepare for war. He said in the month of March, they should “consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.”