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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

US could lose in war with China or Russia, Congress warns

Focus on counter-insurgency operations has resulted in country slipping in other areas such as missile defence

China is building up its navy in the Pacific to challenge the United States. AP
China is building up its navy in the Pacific to challenge the United States. AP

The United States is facing a national security and military crisis and could lose in a war against Russia or China, a bipartisan congressional panel warned in a report Wednesday.

Congress had tasked the National Defense Strategy Commission to look at president Donald Trump’s sweeping National Defense Strategy (NDS), which highlights a new era of ‘Great Power competition’ with Moscow and Beijing.

The panel, run by a dozen former top Democratic and Republican officials, found that just as the US military faced budget cuts and diminishing military advantages, authoritarian nations like China and Russia are pursuing build-ups aimed “at neutralizing US strengths.”

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“America’s military superiority – the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security – has eroded to a dangerous degree,” the commission said.

In their report, the panel found America’s focus on counter-insurgency operations this century resulted in it slipping in other warfighting areas such as missile defence, cyber and space operations, and anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

“Many of the skills necessary to plan for and conduct military operations against capable adversaries – especially China and Russia – have atrophied,” the report states.

It lambasts “political dysfunction and decisions made by both major political parties,” especially budget control measures implemented in 2011.

“The convergence of these trends has created a crisis of national security for the United States,” the report notes.

While the NDS points the Pentagon in the right direction, it “too often rests on questionable assumptions and weak analysis.”

“It leaves unanswered critical questions regarding how the United States will meet the challenges of a more dangerous world,” the report found.

The commission also said that across Asia and Europe, American influence is being steadily eroded and military balances have shifted in “decidedly adverse” ways that have raised the risk of conflict.

“The US military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict,” the commission found.

“It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia. The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

Though the Pentagon this year has a budget of more than $700 billion, far more than Russia and China combined, the commission said the sum is still “clearly insufficient” to meet the goals laid out in the NDS.

Commissioners made a series of recommendations including a 3-5 percent annual increase in the defence budget.