The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee is criticizing an Air Force general’s memo to the troops in his command that predicted China could be at war with the United States within two years, much sooner than any scenario floated by the Pentagon, which has declared Beijing as the country’s primary “pacing challenge.”
The communique from Gen. Mike Minihan cited the 2024 elections in Taiwan and the U.S., which he said could leave the governments distracted and provide a window of opportunity for Chinese President Xi Jinping to strike.
Gen. Minihan commands Air Mobility Command, which oversees the Air Force’s fleet of tanker and cargo aircraft. NBC News first reported the memo.
Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, agreed that relations between Washington and Beijing are at a historically low point but said armed conflict at this time is “highly unlikely.”
“We have a very dangerous situation in China, but I think generals need to be very cautious about saying, ‘We’re going to war. It’s inevitable,’” Mr. Smith said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Commanders like Gen. Minihan are supposed to prepare for a wide range of possibilities, Mr. Smith said.
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But “I don’t think we should be out there telling the world that we’re going to war with China — most importantly because we’re not,” he said. “That’s a very dangerous situation that we need to be prepared for, but I’m fully confident that we can avoid that conflict if we take the right approach.”
Mr. Smith also criticized a recent Twitter post from Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican who predicted U.S. military personnel will be sent to Ukraine to operate a battalion’s worth of M1 Abrams tanks that President Biden authorized.
“Congressman Biggs has literally no idea what he’s talking about. There will be no U.S. servicemen operating these tanks in Ukraine,” Mr. Smith said. “That sort of fear-mongering does not help us in terms of meeting our objectives in Ukraine.”