Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday have recently warned that China could move to seize control of Taiwan in the very near future. They aren’t the only ones expressing concern about a near-term threat in the Western Pacific. However, the modernization plans of the Air Force and Navy seem curiously disconnected from the timeframe in which Beijing’s aggression might occur. In the case of the Navy, amphibious warship programs central to Marine Corps warfighting plans are being delayed or recommended for cancellation. In the case of the Air Force, planned upgrades to the F-35 fighter are being invoked as a pretext for slashing annual procurement numbers. In both cases, the services are behaving like bureaucracies rather than warfighting communities confronted by imminent danger. The services need to modernize, but they must be ready for Chinese aggression that might commence well before long-term investment plans come to fruition. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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