US soil could be at risk of an attack from Beijing if tensions between the two countries boiled over, according to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.
Speaking on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute on Monday, Wormuth said that if the US entered a “major war” with China, “the United States homeland would be at risk as well, with both kinetic attacks and non-kinetic attacks—whether it’s cyberattacks on the power grid or on pipelines.”
Amid escalating tensions between China and Taiwan, the Army’s top official discussed the US strategy to deter Beijing from attacking the self-governed island, which China claims as its own territory.
Although the US has promised to defend Taiwan if China were to attack and continues to be the main provider of military equipment to Taipei, the US does not support Taiwan’s independence as part of its China policy.
“Our goal is to avoid fighting a land war in Asia, this is all about deterrence… the best way we avoid fighting [a war with China] is showing that we can win that war,” Wormuth said.
Timothy Heath, a senior international defense researcher at the RAND Corporation, told latestpagenews that it’s a “reasonable expectation” to believe a war between China and Taiwan could extend to the US homeland given Beijing’s ability to strike.
“It is very likely that war between the US and China could escalate beyond just the area near Taiwan,” Heath said.
Tensions between the US and China are at their highest levels in years over Taiwan. In recent months, visits to the island from high-ranking US government officials, like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the appearance of a Chinese spy balloon over mainland US have added fuel to the fire.
Some officials, like four-star Air Force General Mike Minihan, have predicted that the US could find itself at war with China by 2025—a timeline that the Department of Defense has rejected.
This week, Wormouth said that while she doesn’t believe there to be an imminent threat that China would launch an “amphibious invasion of Taiwan,” the US would “obviously have to prepare, to be prepared to fight and win that war.”
She said that should a conflict break out, China will undoubtedly “go after the will of the United States public.”
“They’re going to try to erode support for a conflict,” the Army secretary added.
Although the US is strategically working to deter an attack on Taiwan from the People’s Liberation Army, recent moves from Beijing suggest that the country is preparing for a military conflict outside of its borders, according to US Army Pacific Commander General Charles Flynn.
“They are rehearsing, they are practicing, they are experimenting, and they are preparing those forces for something,” Flynn said during Monday’s panel. “But you don’t build up that kind of arsenal just to defend and protect. You probably are building up for other purposes.”
He emphasized that this year is an important time for the US to “get in position” and create an advantage over Beijing so that forces can respond “today” if need be.