Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall warned Monday that the US military might not be prepared for a future war with China since it has spent so much time focused on counterterrorism.
“The threat of attack from violent extremist organizations still exists, and we will address those threats as they occur. But China is by far our pacing challenge,” Kendall said at an Air & Space Forces Association conference, according to Fox News.
“Our job is to deter that war and to be ready to win if it occurs,” he said. “We’re all talking about the fact that the Air and Space Forces must change, or we could fail to prevent and might even lose a war.”
Kendall’s comments are the latest example of a US official discussing openly that the US is preparing for a future direct war with China despite the risk of nuclear escalation. Last year, President Biden pledged he would send troops to defend Taiwan if China attacked the island, a highly provocative statement that was not walked back by the White House.
Kendall warned that China has been preparing for a fight in its own backyard. “China has been re-optimizing its forces for great power competition and to prevail against the US in the Western Pacific for over 20 years. China has been building a military capability specifically designed to achieve their national goals and to do so if opposed by the United States,” he said.
Since taking his post as Air Force secretary in 2021, Kendall has been focused on China. After he was sworn in, Kendall said he wanted the US military to develop new technologies to “scare China” and said he had three priorities: “China, China, and China.”