The United States must step up its military modernisation to enhance its conventional and nuclear forces and ensure it is ready for the possibility of simultaneous wars with China and Russia, a congressional commission evaluating the US’s strategic posture has said.
Releasing its report (PDF) on Thursday in the US, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States described the current global environment as “fundamentally different [to] anything experienced in the past, even in the darkest days of the Cold War”.
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The bipartisan panel of six Democrats and six Republicans called for urgent and immediate action to address the threats facing the US. Their report followed a year-long review of US conventional and nuclear forces and comes 14 years after the last major review was published in 2009.
“Today, the United States is on the cusp of having not one, but two nuclear peer adversaries, each with ambitions to change the international status quo, by force, if necessary: a situation which the United States did not anticipate and for which it is not prepared,” commission chair Madelyn Creedon and vice chair Jon Kyl wrote in their introduction to the report.
The commission added that while the risk of a major nuclear conflict remained low, “the risk of military conflict with either or both Russia and China, while not inevitable, has grown, and with it the risk of nuclear use, possibly against the US homeland”.
It noted the advances in air and missile defence made by Russia and China and accepted a forecast from the Pentagon that China was likely to have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last year that China posed the “most serious long-term challenge to the international order” and that Washington would follow a strategy of “invest, align, [and] compete” to address the challenge.
“We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War,” Blinken said in a speech at George Washington University. “To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both.”
Among its recommendations, the commission said Washington should “fully and urgently” execute the nuclear weapons modernisation programme that began in 2010 and is expected to take 30 years.
It said the project should be expanded to include all warheads, nuclear delivery systems, and nuclear command, control, and communications.
Other recommendations included deploying more tactical nuclear weapons in Asia and Europe, the production of more B-21 stealth bombers and Columbia-class nuclear submarines, and better use of emerging technology such as hypersonics and AI.
The report also called for enhancements to the conventional forces of the US and its allies.
The panel noted how much the situation had deteriorated since 2009 when the security environment had improved and China was considered a “lesser-included case”.
“The challenges are unmistakable; the problems are urgent; the steps are needed now,” the report said.
Source: Al Jazeera