Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley reaffirmed the US commitment to two of its closest allies in Asia, including its preparedness to provide deterrence backed by the “full spectrum” of America’s military capabilities.
Though a readout of the trilateral meeting makes no explicit mention of China, the reference to the importance of a “rules-based international order” and America’s preparedness to provide “extended deterrence” backed by a “full spectrum” of military capabilities is clearly directed at what the Pentagon has called the country’s “pacing challenge” and “near-peer competitor.”
During their first in-person meeting since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Milley and other top military officials in the region also shared their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
President Joe Biden, in his first address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening, made confronting China and what he dubbed its “unfair trade practices” a top priority. In conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden said he would protect American interests and vowed to keep a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific region “not to start conflict, but to prevent conflict.”
“After 20 years of American valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring our troops home,” Biden said Wednesday.
At the beginning of March, the Pentagon stood up a China Task Force to better understand how to address the challenge the world’s most populous country poses to the US military. The task force, part of the Pentagon’s Global Posture Review, is being led by Ely Ratner, Biden’s pick to lead the Pentagon’s Asia office.