On Friday, a four-star Air Force general sent a memo to the officers under his command, in which he predicted that the United States would be at war with China within the next two years and instructed them to practise for this conflict by firing “a clip” at a target and “aiming for the head.”
General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, wrote “I hope I am wrong” in a memo sent on Friday and obtained by NBC News. If my instincts are correct, we will be engaged in combat in the year 2025.
The Air Mobility Command is in charge of transportation and refuelling, and it employs nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 aircraft.
According to Minihan’s memo, Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opening to move on Taiwan in 2024 because of simultaneous presidential elections in Taiwan and the United States.
He describes his preparation objectives, such as creating “a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.”
All Air Mobility Command air wing commanders and other Air Force operational commanders have been directed by the signed memo to report to Minihan by February 28 on the status of all major efforts to prepare for the China fight.
The entire AMC is ordered to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most” every day in February, per his orders. “Aim for the head.” He has also instructed that all personnel ensure their information and emergency contacts are current.
He orders all AMC employees to “evaluate their individual circumstances and determine if a meeting with the legal office at their servicing base is warranted in March to make sure they are fully prepared to meet their legal obligations.”
Minihan encourages them to embrace a degree of training-related risk. However, he continues, “If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.”
In addition, he sheds light on a capability the United States is thinking about developing for a potential conflict with China: swarms of commercial drones. His orders to the KC-135 units include training for “delivering 100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.”
In response to this article’s publication, a defence department official stated, “These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China.”
This is a genuine internal memo from General Minihan to his subordinate command teams,” a spokesperson for the AMC said in a statement released on Friday. His directive expands on Air Mobility Command’s groundwork from the previous year, which aimed to make the Mobility Air Forces combat-ready in the event that deterrence failed.
To quote Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder: “The National Defense Strategy makes clear that China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense and our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free, and open Indo-Pacific.”
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2021, then-Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Philip Davidson stated, “Taiwan is clearly one of [China’s] ambitions.”
According to Davidson, the danger will become apparent “during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was recently quoted as saying, “What we’re seeing recently, is some very provocative behaviour on the part of China’s forces and their attempt to re-establish a new normal.” This statement was made in response to a question about the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan earlier this month.