Kendall: China and Russia Could Challenge U.S. Military Prowess

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Unless sequester is reversed, nations such as China and Russia could become more militarily powerful than the United States, the Defense Department's top acquisition official said Jan. 15.

At a time when domestic defense budgets are being slashed, Russia and China are increasing their military's budgets and modernizing equipment, said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

"China and Russia … are modernizing particularly fast … at a rate that I find disconcerting. China is modernizing in a very strategic and focused way. It is fielding systems that directly challenge our capabilities," said Kendall at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Science and Technology Forum and Exposition conference.

While Kendall does not anticipate that the United States will become embroiled in a military conflict with China, he said it is important that the United States remains the most powerful country in the world.

"I do not want to live in a world in which the U.S. is the second best power in the world militarily," Kendall said. "I want us to continue to have an unfair advantage."

Potential threats include anti-satellite capabilities, cruise and ballistic missiles, cyber-attacks and electronic jamming, said Kendall.

As Russia and China modernize and expand their arsenals of weapons, there is also the threat that they could sell and export weapons to hostile parties, he said.

Since the Cold War ended, the United States has been complacent in terms of securing its status as the number one superpower in the world, Kendall said. There is an assumption that the United States will always be at the top, and that is not the case, Kendall said.

"That complacency is a problem," said Kendall. "There is a lack of understanding of the situation and how much is changing."

Sequester-level budgets will not allow the United States to have a ready force should a conflict arise with another nation, he said. Not only will the country have a "hollow force" but its R&D funding will also be deeply strained, he said. Robust R&D projects are needed in order to keep the nation's edge, he said.

"That's not the level the department needs to defend the country," said Kendall.

Topics: Defense Department, DOD Budget, DOD Policy, International, Science and Engineering Technology

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