America's military priority in the coming years? China, China, and China—or so says the top US military commander. Speaking at a Wall Street Journal summit Tuesday, Army Gen. Mark Milley said China is aiming to equal America's military might by 2035 and be ready to win a war against the US by midcentury. "They are on a path to try to do that," Milley said. "It is certainly a significant security challenge for the United States now and in the years to come." He added that the "great-power competition" between China and the US should not "turn into a great-power war. That would be a disaster." Seapower Magazine quotes him as saying the Pentagon can offset Chinese power—and in theory, avoid a war—with a "consistent, predictable" budget boost of roughly 3% to 5%.
But Milley isn't hopeful: "I don't see that as a realistic thing in the coming year," he said. In fact, he foresees Pentagon budget cuts, and favors modernizing forces over keeping current forces up to snuff, mostly to offset a rising China, per ABC News. He also suggested making certain international troop placements—like those in Bahrain or South Korea—rotational or "selective," in part because such permanent bases reflect an outdated strategy: "I think that is something that needs a hard, hard look," he said. "Much of that is a derivative of where World War II ended." He also feared that US noncombatants, like family members, could get trapped if war breaks out between the Koreas. "I have a problem with that," he said. (America's top intelligence official caused quite a stir with his op-ed about China.)