Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

At a speech Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum titled “The China Challenge,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reportedly downplayed the growing China threat, even as the Pentagon’s top commanders painted a decidedly darker picture. “China’s not 10 feet tall,” Austin said after his speech in a discussion with Fox News. Austin continued:

This is America. We have the greatest industry, the greatest innovators in the world and we’re going to do what’s necessary to create the capabilities that help us maintain the competitive edge going forward.

Perhaps, but some of the Pentagon’s most senior uniformed leaders used the same forum to paint a much more ominous picture.

Defense One notes:

Just before Austin spoke, Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. John Aquilino said at a panel discussion that China’s activity in the Pacific was the biggest military buildup the world had seen since World War II. Space Force Vice Chief of Operations Gen. David Thompson said China could exceed U.S. military capabilities by 2030. 

“They are building and fielding and updating their space capabilities at twice the rate we are,” Thompson said. “It means that very soon, if we don’t start accelerating our development and our capabilities, they will exceed us, and 2030 is the point in which that could occur if we don’t adjust.” 

Austin wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns though. He did warn that China is building a “nascent nuclear triad,” referring to bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

“We’ve got to be clear about the China challenge, and about what we need to do to meet it,” he said.

These remarks come on the heels of China’s recent surprise hypersonic glide vehicle test launch which has been called a “Sputnik Moment,” referring to the 1957 Soviet satellite launch that spurred JFK and the U.S. to land men on the Moon in 1969.

The Chinese test appears to be part of a hypersonic Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) which could threaten targets throughout the United States via trajectories not currently defended against such as the Antarctic. But this FOBS also could allow China to glide nukes in low earth orbit and drop them at times and places of their choosing, giving little advance warning.

The Pentagon also has recently admitted that China is increasing its nuclear capability at a far greater pace than previously believed, possibly reaching 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030.

ABC news reported:

“The PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size the DoD projected in 2020,” it added. That increase is dramatically different than was projected in last year’s version of the report which predicted a doubling of China’s current nuclear arsenal of several hundred warheads.

The Pentagon report added even more troubling assessments:

In recent months, the growth of China’s nuclear force has been captured by commercial satellite images showing the construction of hundreds of missile silos at three locations in northern and western China.

New developments in 2020 further suggest that the PRC intends to increase the peacetime readiness of its nuclear forces by moving to a launch-on-warning (LOW) posture with an expanded silo-based force. 


Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Bug D
Bug D
5 months ago

Just another Pedo Joe substandard appointee……par for the course

Georgina Gregory
Georgina Gregory
5 months ago
Reply to  Bug D

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Bob
Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Bug D

I agree. This guy is in way over his head. He was chosen to get rid of conservatives in the military and to brainwash all the troops on CRT. The result is that many whites hate themselves for what happened to the black man because of CRT.

IH8LIBS
IH8LIBS
5 months ago

Everyone in this illegal administration is a complete and utter failure…

charles A wilkins
charles A wilkins
5 months ago

Seems like everybody around biden lies,The democrats what’s really changed since our Constitution? Not the democrat party that’s for sure look what biden is doing. Congressman William Stephen Morgan of Virginia introduced House Resolution 8 on March 5, 1838. Morgan drafted his bill following several high-profile duels that included Members of Congress. This legislation was considered, but not passed, shortly after the fatal duel between House Members Jonathan Cilley of Maine and William Graves of Kentucky. Cilley was killed as a result of the duel on February 24, 1838. In 1826 Representative Sam Houston of Tennessee and General William A. White dueled, and General White was seriously wounded. Morgan’s bill sought to amend the Constitution to prohibit dueling by any person holding federal public office and to bar anyone who took part in a duel after its passage from holding office. Congress outlawed dueling in the District of Columbia in 1839. Republicans have proposed to scrap the 172-year-old ban on duels for public officials in an attempt to highlight how many arcane laws are still upheld by the state constitution.When you think about racial equality and civil rights, which political party comes to mind? The Republicans? Or, the Democrats? Most people would probably say the Democrats. But this answer is incorrect. Since its founding in 1829, the Democratic Party has fought against every major civil rights initiative, and has a long history of discrimination. The Democratic Party defended slavery, started the Civil War, opposed Reconstruction, founded the Ku Klux Klan, imposed segregation, perpetrated lynchings, and fought against the civil rights acts of the 1950s and 1960s. In contrast, the Republican Party was founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party. Its mission was to stop the spread of slavery into the new western territories with the aim of abolishing it entirely. This effort, however, was dealt a major blow by the Supreme Court. In the 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sandford, the court ruled that slaves aren’t citizens; they’re property. The seven justices who voted in favor of slavery? All Democrats. The two justices who dissented? Both Republicans. Maybe the return of dueling might keep the democrat radicals in control.