Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Think We Have Military Primacy Over China? Think Again.

| May 12, 2020

Here’s a fact that ought to startle every American who assumes that because we spend nearly $1 trillion each year on defense, we have primacy over our emerging rival, China.

“Over the past decade, in U.S. war games against China, the United States has a nearly perfect record: We have lost almost every single time.”

That’s a quote from a new book called “The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare,” the most provocative critique of U.S. defense policy I’ve read in years. It’s written by Christian Brose, former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a close adviser to late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). The book isn’t just a wake-up call, it’s a fire alarm in the night.

Brose explains a terrible truth about war with China: Our spy and communications satellites would immediately be disabled; our forward bases in Guam and Japan would be “inundated” by precise missiles; our aircraft carriers would have to sail away from China to escape attack; our F-35 fighter jets couldn’t reach their targets because the refueling tankers they need would be shot down.

“Many U.S. forces would be rendered deaf, dumb and blind,” writes Brose. We have become so vulnerable, he argues because we’ve lost sight of the essential requirement of military power — the “kill chain” of his title — which means seeing threats and taking quick, decisive action to stop them.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ignatius, David.“Think We Have Military Primacy Over China? Think Again..” The Washington Post, May 12, 2020.