A senior Air Force general claimed in a bombastic and uncommon memo to his troops that China and the United States may be at war in two years, stating a much shorter timeframe before a potential confrontation than any other senior U.S. defence official to date.
Invoking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitions and the possibility that Americans won’t pay attention until it is too late, Gen. Michael A. Minihan, who commands Air Mobility Command and is responsible for the service’s fleet of transport and refuelling aircraft, urged personnel to expedite their preparations for a potential conflict.
Gen. Michael Statement
“I hope I am wrong,” Minihan wrote. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
Then, sometime in February, Minihan orders airmen who are armed and trained to “shoot a clip into a 7-meter target with full realisation that unrepentant lethality counts most.”
He said, “Aim for the head.”
The thousands of soldiers under Minihan’s command are urged by his memo to make other preparations for war. He orders all subordinates to “consider their personal affairs” and to be more aggressive in their training.
Run thoughtfully, not carelessly, he advises. “If you approach training in a comfortable manner, you are not taking enough risk.”
What Is There In Internal Memorandum?
The letter was sent to Minihan’s subordinate commanders and was first made public by NBC News on Friday. It is dated February 1, which is still several days away. After learning about the memo on social media, an Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Hope Cronin, confirmed its validity, saying that Minihan’s order “builds on last year’s fundamental work by Air Mobility Command to prepare the Air Mobility Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail.”
According to Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon, “China is the pacing challenge of the Department of Defense” and that American officials are collaborating with allies and partners to “preserve a peaceful, free, and open Indo-Pacific,” according to the U.S. national defence strategy.
Because of the delicate nature of the subject, a U.S. defence official indicated that Minihan’s remarks “are not typical of the department’s stance on China.”
Beginning in 2013, Minihan had a number of significant positions in the Pacific before taking the helm at Air Mobility Command in 2021. They include a period from September 2019 to August 2021 serving as the Indo-Pacific Command’s deputy commander, having responsibility for China and Taiwan.
The general’s memo comes at a time when the Pentagon is attempting to restart the counterinsurgency wars that have been raging in the Middle East for twenty years, and the Biden administration is still providing Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of security assistance as it works to repel a Russian invasion.
Senior U.S. officials have long expressed concern that an ascendant China may attack Taiwan, which is run separately. President Biden’s Defense Department and that of his predecessor, President Donald Trump, have identified China as their top long-term concern, citing Beijing’s recent military buildup and belligerent actions.
However, American authorities have given conflicting information about whether and when China would try to invade Taiwan. Beijing might launch such an effort by 2027, according to Adm. Phil Davidson, then-head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, who made the prediction in 2021. Some national security experts have since given that timeline the moniker “the Davidson window.”
The Pentagon has worked to strengthen military ties with willing partners throughout the Pacific as a result of its worries about China. The governments of the United States and Japan announced this month that a Marine Corps unit on the island of Okinawa will be transformed into a force that can move between nearby islands and fire long-range missiles at potential enemies.
At a news conference with Japanese officials on January 11, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the United States had seen some “quite aggressive behaviour” by Chinese personnel in an effort to test international rules. However, he also played down worries that China may attack Taiwan any time soon.
Austin reported that there had been an uptick in airborne activity. We have noticed an uptick in surface vessel activity around Taiwan. Again, we believe that they work to create a new normal, but I highly doubt it indicates that an invasion is about to happen.
Minihan, a C-130 pilot who joined the Air Force, had previously drawn attention for his abrasive, colourful vocabulary.
At a military conference outside of Washington in September, he claimed that the Air Force was responsible for the largest “pile of our nation’s enemy dead” among the American military.
According to him, “Lethality matters most,” according to the military magazine Task & Purpose. “Every aspect of your life is better when you can kill your enemy. Your meal is better tasting. Your union is more robust.