The top US general told the West Point Military Academy Class of 2022 that the nature of war is changing and that the current rules-based international order is threatened by Russia and China.
“Right now, right now, a fundamental shift in the nature of warfare is occurring,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said May 21. “We are facing two world powers right now: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, and both intent on changing the current rules-based order.”
The high command made the comments while addressing cadets at a graduation ceremony in West Point, New York.
“The world you have been entrusted with has the potential for major international conflicts between major powers,” Milley said. “And that potential is increasing, not decreasing.”
He reminded the cadets that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had taught: “Aggression unanswered only encourages the aggressor.”
Referring to China, Milley noted that the communist regime had a “revisionist foreign policy” and now boasted an “increasingly capable military.”
Details of China’s growing military capabilities were revealed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in its annual threat assessment report (pdf) released in March. One area of concern is China’s ongoing construction of hundreds of new ICBM silos.
Another concern centers on China’s push to develop space capabilities to “undermine the US military’s information advantage.” The report claims that the communist regime is “deploying new destructive and non-destructive ground and space anti-satellite weapons.”
Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, in his statement (pdf) at a congressional hearing on May 17 warned of the threat posed by the expansion and modernization of China’s air force, navy and missile forces.
China, for example, is set to increase its combat capability to 420 ships by 2025, even though the communist regime already has the largest navy in the world, according to Aquilino. China’s new generation of mobile missiles, some based on hypersonic glide vehicles, are designed to evade US missile defenses, he added.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shakes hands with West Point graduates as they receive their diplomas during the West Point 2022 inaugural ceremony May 21, 2022 in New York. (Michael M Santiago/Getty Images )
Milley said the character of war was also changed by the types of weapons used.
“The maturity of various technologies that exist today or are in advanced stages of development, when combined, will likely change the character of warfare,” Milley said.
“You will fight with robotic tanks, ships and planes,” he added. “We have seen a revolution in lethal and precision ammunition. What was once the exclusive domain of the US military is now within the reach of most nation states that have the money and will to acquire it.”
According to Milley, the mother of all technologies is artificial intelligence (AI), leading to “the most profound change in human history”.
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has repeatedly identified AI as one of the top priorities for its national development. It was one of the key industries outlined in China’s industrial roadmap known as “Made in China 2025”. Two years later, Beijing launched the “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development”, which sets strategic goals for 2020, 2025 and 2030.
According to a Congressional Research Service report (pdf) published in April, Beijing is developing AI tools for cyber operations and is pushing AI in various types of autonomous air, land, sea and underwater military vehicles.
“China is actively pursuing swarm technologies that could be used to overwhelm enemy anti-missile interceptors,” the report added. Swarm intelligence lets machines communicate and work together to achieve a specific goal.
A WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force is seen a day before the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong province, 27 September 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
Milley reminded the cadets that the United States is losing ground in the military arena.
“Whatever superiority we, the United States, have enjoyed militarily for the past 70 years is fading fast,” he said. “And indeed, the United States is already being challenged in all aspects of space, cyber, sea, air and of course land warfare.”
Cadets must be prepared for a future different from the past, Milley stressed.
“In short, the next 20 or 25 years will not be like the last 20 or 25,” he said.
“Around the world, nationalism and authoritarian rule are increasing, regional arms races and unresolved territorial claims, ethnic and sectarian disputes and attempts by some countries to return to the concept of the balance of power with political spheres from the 18th century. of influence,” Milley added, without naming countries.
The KPC is expanding its sphere of influence, particularly in developing countries, through its infrastructure and investment program known as the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, the communist regime is trying to seize Taiwan, a de facto independent entity that Beijing considers part of its territory, to expand its sphere of influence in East Asia and the western Pacific.
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