Maj. Gen. Richard Coffman, director of the US Army Futures Command’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, suggested in a webinar China poses a “pacing threat” to the US. Urging the US to push for a “modernisation to overmatch” China’s People’s Liberation Army, the Major General insisted land warfare will be decisive in a potential war with Beijing.
Speaking on the webinar, organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Maj. Gen. Coffman urged the US to rethink future conflicts with China.
He noted the US’ Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) covers 2.7 billion sq. km of land and 50 percent of the world’s population.
But he added most “look at the INDOPACOM area of operations as a maritime theatre”, while land combat “will be the only component that will be decisive”.
Maj. Gen. Coffman then said: “If you want to take land, if you want to hold land, if you want to clear land, you will [need] the ground element.”
Hitting back at critics of the US Army who view tanks and forces of relics of the past, Maj. Gen. Coffman said America’s “pacing threat lies in China”.
He said: “It’s not just about tanks, though China’s got plenty of them: 7,000 tanks and 3,000 infantry fighting vehicles — 10,000 vehicles that will be decisive if we are not there.
“In order to be decisive, we have to be there with armour to prevent the Chinese from getting into a position of relevant advantage.”
He then called on the US to increase its defence spending to match China as “they are competing with us globally”.
It follows Chinese President Xi Jinping calling for a “good start” in strengthening national defence and the armed forces in an address to the 13th National People’s Congress.
Laying down requirements for ensuring the good start in the military development for the next five years, Xi said development of the armed forces must focus on combat readiness.
Xi also demanded efforts to step up building high-calibre strategic deterrence and joint operation systems.
At the start of the year, Xi called on his troops to be ready for war “at all times”.
It also comes as the US kicks off a flurry of diplomatic engagements with Asia, including a virtual meeting with Australia, Japan and India on Friday.
President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are also traveling to North Asia early next week to reassure Japan and South Korea of longstanding security agreements, before Mr Austin goes onto India.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of the plans: “That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.”