- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2021

U.S. national defense policy, which calls for being able to defeat China in a war while holding off Russia and other adversaries around the world, has set goals that are basically unachievable, the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services  Committee said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Reagan Institute, Washington state Rep. Adam Smith argued for a review of the guidance for the Department of Defense covering topics ranging from military planning and strategy to troop deployments and equipment modernization. He said the topline goals U.S. military officials are supposed to be meeting are unrealistic.

“We have to be able to win an all-out war with China and preferably dominate,” said Mr. Smith, while noting, “We also have to be able to deal with Russia in Eastern Europe to deter what’s going on.”

In addition, the U.S. must maintain its nuclear deterrence and deal with threats and provocations from North Korea and Iran — all at the same time, he said.

“We can never possibly do what we are being told we have to do,” Mr. Smith said. “We are sort of perpetually chasing our tail.”

It’s possible for the U.S. to defend itself and meet the country’s national security obligations with a much more focused idea of its essential security needs, he said.

“We need to get back to a core principle — what is necessary and what is possible,” Mr. Smith said. 

President Biden is requesting $715 billion for the Pentagon, a slight increase over last year that actually amounts to a flat budget after inflation is factored in. Those figures will go up or down in any year, Mr. Smith said, but what is crucial is determining what the funds are being spent on.He recommended a national effort similar to the Manhattan Project during World War II, but this time focused on artificial intelligence or AI.

“We had to get to nuclear weapons first before Hitler did or we were all going to lose,” Mr. Smith said. “We have to get to AI first or we are going to be in a much worse position. It’s the key to everything going forward.”

The Pentagon, Mr. Smith said, also must improve its processes for purchasing technology in general and software in particular.

“You can build all of the airplanes and all of the ships,” he said. “But if our adversaries have the ability to shut all of those platforms down by either taking out a satellite or [by] a cyberattack, then that is really spending a lot of money in a very unwise way.”

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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