US Army Officials Confident in Competition with China

Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers march in formation during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Not all branches of the U.S. military are equally worried about keeping pace with China’s military expansion.

While U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro warned earlier this week that he needed more ships to meet the threat posed by China’s rapidly expanding naval forces, top Army officials believe U.S. ground forces still hold a critical edge over their Chinese counterparts.

“The human dimension of the United States Army, I think, is a comparative advantage,” U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth cautioned during a breakfast in Washington on Thursday with the Defense Writers Group. “The quality of how our soldiers are trained, the kind of leaders that they have, the kind of combat experience that the force has.”

Army Chief of Staff General James McConville added that the quality of leadership, especially that rising from the ranks of the Army’s enlisted soldiers, cannot be understated.

“One of the biggest lessons from Ukraine and Russia is the value of these non-commissioned officers that we have in our organization,” McConville said. “Everyone would like to have the folks we have.”

Despite that confidence, both McConville and Wormuth acknowledged the threat posed by China’s military modernization and expansion is not being taken lightly.

“One should never underestimate the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” Wormuth said. “We’re just as focused as the Navy and the Air Force and the other services on China as the pacing challenge … how that expresses itself for the Army, I think, is a little bit different.”

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