The Center for Security Policy’s Senior Analyst for Defense Policy, John Rossomando, spoke with Admiral James Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense and former deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, about issues facing the U.S. military in the coming years.
The panel titled “Military Readiness in the Face of Global Threats” addressed how U.S. military planners need to adapt to the changing world and the shift from counterinsurgency operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to confront the rise of China and Russia’s nuclear modernization.
Winnefeld warned that war with China would happen at the time and place of the Chinese Communist Party’s choosing, not when the U.S. or its allies decide to act. Spoehr and Winnefeld both argued that the U.S. needs to work at modernizing its nuclear forces in reaction to nuclear modernization on the part of China and Russia. Winnefeld noted the U.S. should not make further reductions in its nuclear arsenal without verifiable reductions on the part of Russia.
Winnefeld, who was a negotiator of the New START treaty 10 years ago, noted that Vladimir Putin is not Gorbachev, so he will pocket every concession he is given.
Spoehr noted that the bill for the U.S. nuclear triad of ICBMs, ballistic-missile submarines, and the new B-21 stealth bomber are coming due all at the same time. Winnefeld blamed past Congresses and administrations for “kicking the can.”
Winnefeld argued the U.S. should be concerned about attacks from shipborne cruise missiles that can be fired from ships or submarines along the U.S coastline, which it currently does not have adequate defense for.
Both Winnefeld and Spoehr supported the creation of the Space Force because it allows for the adequate funding of space-based national defense priorities.
Winnefeld argued the U.S. needs to do a better job defending itself from cyberattacks to keep intellectual property from being stolen, which allegedly happened when China stole the plans for the F-35. The U.S. should have the ability to wage cyberwarfare against civilian populations in the case of a confrontation in which the enemy uses cyberweapons, he said. He noted that Artificial Intelligence is going to become a key aspect of future U.S. military developments, especially in in the air and on the sea.
Spoehr noted that China lacks the technical capabilities to build an F-35 with the specifications that an American manufacturer would.
American technical superiority over China is eroding fast, according to Winnefeld.
Winnefeld argued the U.S. should consider using cyberwarfare to breakdown China’s Internet firewalls to the outside world and exploit the Chinese Communist Party’s fear of not being able control its population.
They agreed that America’s current technological advantages over China and Russia remain its greatest strength.