China Outpacing US Military at ‘Disturbing’ Rate: Gen. Milley
By Samantha Flom
29 March 2023
China is on a trajectory to achieve military superiority over the United States by midcentury, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley warned members of Congress on March 29.
Testifying at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defense’s 2024 budget requests, Milley noted that China has a national goal to be a “global coequal” with the United States and “militarily superior” by 2049.
“They’re on that path to do that, and that’s really disturbing,” he said. “That’s really bothersome. And we’re going to have to not only keep pace, but we have to outpace that, and that will assure the peace.”
Of particular concern is China’s nuclear development program, Milley said, holding that there is little the United States could do to “stop, slow down, disrupt, interdict, or destroy” it.
Milley’s unease echoed that of U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, who told Congress on Tuesday that China’s expansion of its nuclear force was the most “disturbing” military threat he’d seen in his half-century career.
For months, the Pentagon has been sounding the alarm over China’s nuclear moves, warning in December that the country was on pace to quadruple its number of nuclear warheads to 1,500 by 2035.
Currently, the Defense Department estimates China’s nuclear warhead count to be more than 400. And while that number may seem small compared with the United States’ stockpile of around 3,750, Milley stressed on Wednesday that the communist country’s capabilities should not be underestimated.
“They have a significant nuclear capability today and they have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can range the United States,” he said. “That is obviously bothersome.”
The general also noted that the situation is further complicated by the strengthening relationship between China and Russia, which he described as “troublesome.”
“We are facing two nuclear-armed great powers,” he emphasized. “So, the principles of the Cold War of deterrence still obtain, but now it’s more complicated because it’s two versus one.”
And with the added threat of Iran joining the mix, Milley predicted, “Those three countries together are going to be problematic for many years to come.”