Vice Admiral Charles Richard, head of the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) of the US Department of Defense warns that a nuclear war between Washington, Beijing, and Moscow is a real possibility if the U.S. does not strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
In the most recent edition of the American Naval Institute journal, Vice Admiral Richard explains that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could quickly escalate into a conflict involving nuclear weapons, should they perceive that a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.”
In the face of growing threats from Russia and China and gray zone actions, the vice-admiral believes, the United States must take action today to position itself for the future. Accordingly, Richard proposes, the U.S. military must change its primary assumption from “nuclear employment is not possible” to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility” and act to confront and deter that reality.”
The Strategic Command chief also asserted that Russia and China “have begun to aggressively challenge international norms and global peace using instruments of power and threats of force in ways not seen since the height of the Cold War.”
Vice Admiral Richard encouraged arms competition with both Eurasian countries. “We must wrestle with the relationships between competition, deterrence and security” he asserts, and goes on in his considerations to suggest that competition should be viewed as maintaining a relative advantage over competitors. “It’s an infinite game,” he sentences, “where the goal is to remain a dominant player.”
“Even if Beijing doubles its arsenal over the next decade,” DeCamp asserts, “as China hawks predict, it will still be small compared to Washington.” And if the intention were to curb China’s supply, there is the dangerous proposition that the United States must eliminate much of its arsenal to convince Beijing to participate in arms control agreements.
However, DeCamp makes a troubling caveat that has to do with the military industrial complex and how these statements from Strategic Command may actually be responding, in part, to commercial interests between the Army and arms manufacturers.
“Because STRATCOM is the command post that oversees Washington’s nuclear arsenal, its commanders always exaggerate the risk of nuclear war and call for more money to modernize the stockpile.” But, DeCamp qualifies, with the U.S. prioritizing a “great power competition” with China and Russia and an increased U.S. military presence in places like the South China Sea, the Arctic and the Black Sea, the threat of nuclear war is increasing.
The strategic command allied to the Biden Administration
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has spoken similarly to the head of Strategic Command in explaining that the U.S. must present itself to China as a real threat, as reported by USNI News.
“We’ll have to have capabilities that allow us to hold – to present a credible threat, a credible deterrent, excuse me, to China in the future. We’ll have to make some strides in the use of quantum computing, the use of AI, the advent of connected battlefields, the space-based platforms. Those kinds of things I think can give us the types of capabilities that we’ll need to be able to hold large pieces of Chinese military inventory at risk.”Lloyd Austin.