“The U.S. military is at a high-stakes inflection point: it must take a series of much bigger and bolder steps to keep its military-technological edge over great power competitors such as China, or it could lose that edge within the decade. If the Pentagon’s own reported wargames and analysis are to be believed, the planned force that is enshrined in the current Department of Defense (DoD) program and budget may well be insufficient to deter or defeat Chinese aggression in the future. It is difficult to overstate the catastrophic consequences of the altered balance of power that would result: a United States no longer able to credibly protect its interests, allies, and partners in the very region on which the future prosperity and security of Americans will most depend.

“In their respective defense strategy documents, both the Obama and Trump administrations recognized the growing challenge posed by an increasingly powerful and assertive China, as well as a revanchist Russia—as well as the important role of DoD within a broader, whole-of-government approach to great power competition. However, this conceptual shift toward great power competition has not been matched by a requisite re-alignment of concepts, culture, and service programs and budgets. The DoD is talking a far better game than it is actually playing. The proverbial clock is ticking, and while the Pentagon and Congress continue to make changes largely at the margins, China is making serious investments to rapidly close the military-technological gap…”

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