A four-star Air Force general sent a memo to his officers predicting that the United States will be at war with China in two years and instructing them to prepare by firing “a clip” at a target and “aiming for the head.”
“I hope I am wrong,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, in a memo obtained by NBC News. “I believe I will fight in 2025.”
Air Mobility Command is in charge of transportation and refuelling and has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes.
According to Minihan’s memo, because both Taiwan and the United States will hold presidential elections in 2024, the United States will be “distracted,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to move on Taiwan.
He outlines his preparation goals, including the formation of a “fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.”
The signed memo directs all Air Mobility Command air wing commanders and other Air Force operational commanders to report to Minihan by Feb. 28 on all major efforts to prepare for the China fight.
During the month of February, he directs all AMC personnel to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. “Take aim at the head.” He also directs that all personnel update their records and emergency contact information.
In March, he orders all AMC personnel to “consider their personal affairs and whether a visit with their servicing base legal office should be scheduled to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.”
Minihan encourages them to take some risks during training. “Run deliberately, not recklessly,” he writes, but later adds, “If your approach to training is comfortable, you are not taking enough risk.”
He has also provided insight into the capability that the United States in preparation for the potential conflict with China using commercial drone swarms. He has ordered the KC-135 units to get ready to deliver “100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.”
“These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China,” said a defense department official following the publication of the article.
AMC’s spokesperson confirmed the memo’s authenticity in a statement.
“This is an authentic internal memo from General Minihan addressed to his subordinate command teams. His order builds on last year’s foundational efforts by Air Mobility Command to ready the Mobility Air Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail.”
“The National Defense Strategy makes clear that China is the pacing challenge for the Department of Defense,” said Defense Department press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder in a statement.
“Our focus remains on working alongside allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free, and open Indo-Pacific.”
In March 2021, Adm. Philip Davidson, then commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, had told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “Taiwan is clearly one of [China’s] ambitions.
“I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years,” Davidson has said.
Earlier this month, when asked whether a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was imminent, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated, “What we’re seeing recently, is some very provocative behavior on the part of China’s forces and their attempt to re-establish a new normal.”
“But whether or not that means that an invasion is imminent,” said Austin, “I seriously doubt that.”