USAF Secretary: "America's first and foremost threat is China, not Russia"

Frank Kendall, the politician who governs the destinies of the US Air and Space Force, confirms that Beijing is Washington's main concern
The People's Republic of China's military has more than a million troops and a major space component, which is the Pentagon's concern

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   The People's Republic of China's military has more than a million troops and a major space component, which is the Pentagon's concern

Congressmen, senators, federal officials, industry executives and senior military commanders have heard from Frank Kendall, Secretary of the US Air Force (USAF), that "the greatest strategic threat" to the United States and the Biden Administration "is China, not Russia".

Speaking at the opening session of the Air Warfare Symposium that closed on Friday, 4 March, in Orlando, Florida, Kendall cautioned the nation's taxpayers. Although Vladimir Putin is keeping the invasion of Ukraine on track and Russia represents "a serious danger to our European allies", China remains "the primary concern and cause for mistrust" for the Department of Defense, he told the forum organised by the Air Force Association (AFA).

Veterano alto cargo del Pentágono, Frank Kendall, de 73 años, antes de ser secretario de la Fuerza Aérea fue subsecretario de Defensa para Adquisiciones, Tecnología y Logística en la segunda Administración Obama
PHOTO/USAF - Veteran senior Pentagon official Frank Kendall, 73, before becoming air force secretary, was undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics in the second Obama administration

The fact that the Kremlin is not America's first and foremost strategic threat "does not mean that it has been ruled out as such" in the new National Security and Defence Strategy that the Biden Administration is in the process of drafting, Kendall stressed. 

Unlike Moscow, Beijing possesses great economic power, has significant financial resources and has been investing heavily in new space and defence capabilities for the past three decades. It has far greater regional and global ambitions than Russia, it has the resources to achieve its goals, and its system of government is authoritarian and repressive. It is for all these reasons that Frank Kendall insists that "our greatest strategic threat is China, China and China".

Con un alcance superior a los 10.000 kilómetros, el misil balístico intercontinental DongFeng-41 (Viento del Este) fue mostrado en 2019 en la parada militar del 1 de octubre, que conmemora la fundación de la República Popular
PHOTO/China MoD - With a range of more than 10,000 kilometres, the DongFeng-41 (East Wind) intercontinental ballistic missile was displayed at the 2019 military parade on October 1, which commemorates the founding of the People's Republic of China 
The first operational imperative is the mastery of space

At the age of 73 and at the helm of the USAF since August 2021, the veteran Democratic politician has told the large professional audience in Orlando and via telematics that his personal goal is to "instil a sense of urgency" in efforts to "ensure the modernisation and improvement" of the Air Force in all its aspects. To achieve this, his team has developed a roadmap he calls "the 7 operational imperatives", which by 2022 have a federal budget of more than $168 billion.  

Each of the 7 lines of action is intended to generate the thinking and culture with which to obtain the most urgent new technologies to achieve an Air and Space Force "capable of deterring, preventing our adversaries from operating with impunity and, if necessary, defeating them". Kendall wants to achieve an aviation and space force capable of "emerging victorious from potential armed conflict, such as an attack on our European allies or an invasion of Taiwan", he said.

El presidente ruso Vladimir Putin y el chino Xi Jinping celebraron en septiembre de 2018 un encuentro en Vladivostok con bufet incluido, quizás un prolegómeno de las acciones de uno sobre Ucrania y del otro sobre Taiwán
PHOTO/Reuters - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a buffet meeting in Vladivostok in September 2018, perhaps a prologue to the one's actions on Ukraine and the other's on Taiwan 

China is the United States' "main competitor in space", he confirmed. With a large family of space launchers, more than a hundred intercontinental ballistic missile systems with ranges between 5,000 and 10,000 kilometres fired from ground and submarine silos, hypersonic weapons under development and significant progress in the use of anti-satellite systems, "Beijing threatens the security of US civilian and military space infrastructure and that of our allies", he stressed. 

At the top of the Top Seven list is the definition and construction of a space architecture and order of battle. Kendall has convinced the White House and Capitol Hill that it is imperative to erect a global outer space umbrella to armour the US Armed Forces and provide them with the highest degree of resilience and efficiency in terms of secure communications, targeting, intelligence, command and control.

Uno de los 4 o 6 submarinos nucleares lanzamisiles tipo 094 codificados clase Jin por la OTAN. De 135 metros de eslora y un desplazamiento en inmersión de 11.000 toneladas, alojan 12 misiles JL-2 de 7.000 kilómetros de alcance
PHOTO/Top81 - One of the four or six NATO-coded Jin-class Type 094 nuclear-powered missile submarines. 135 metres long and with a submerged displacement of 11,000 tonnes, they carry 12 JL-2 missiles with a range of 7,000 kilometres
A Pentagon heavyweight

To implement his plans, the Air Force chief has the full support of Space Force Operations chief Lieutenant General John "Jay" Raymond, who is about to turn 60. And with the guidance of Google's executive chairman from 2001 to 2011, Eric Schmidt, 66, who advocates that the application of AI in weapons systems and decision-making will have such a multiplier effect that "it will have a seismic impact on future wars".

But who is the current USAF Secretary and what is his role in the Biden Administration? Frank Kendall is one of the Pentagon's strongmen and a figure in the full confidence of the Secretary of State for Defence, retired Lieutenant General Lloyd James Austin, 68, under whose guidance he operates. He is no newcomer to Washington's security and defence establishment, as none of the people chosen to assume senior responsibilities in the defence department, whether in a Democratic or Republican administration, have been for decades. 

China es el principal competidor de Estados Unidos en el espacio. Kendall ha establecido la hoja de ruta de los 7 imperativos operativos, cuyo primer paso es definir y construir una arquitectura y un orden de batalla espacial
PHOTO/Raytheon Tech. - China is the United States' main competitor in space. Kendall has set out the 7 Operational Imperatives roadmap, the first step of which is to define and build a space architecture and order of battle

With responsibility for organising, training, arming and equipping the US Air and Space Forces, Kendall already served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics during the second Obama Administration (2012-2017). During those years, he had the courage to shut down production of the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter for two years and to halt production of the advanced GPS III satellites until their manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, was able to resolve anomalies in both projects.

Before taking up such an important post, Kendall had already managed major military projects between 1988 and 1994 under Presidents Donald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton, thus winning the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats.

China posee un inmenso parque de carros de combate de fabricación nacional. Con unas 7.000 unidades de diferentes modelos, el más avanzado es el Tipo 99 o ZTZ-99 (en imagen), de 55 toneladas y cañón de 125 mm.
PHOTO/VCG - China has a huge fleet of domestically produced battle tanks. With some 7,000 units of different models, the most advanced is the Type 99 or ZTZ-99 (pictured), a 55-tonne, 125mm gun 

To complete his professional profile, he is a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Army, where he trained at the West Point Military Academy and served for 11 years. A law graduate and engineer, he has also held a number of senior positions in private industry, including Vice President of Engineering at Raytheon Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of missiles, radars and air defence systems. In short, he is a veteran with half a century of experience in the senior management of US defence matters.