GEOPOLITICAL COPMETITION“We’ve Got to Change”: U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff

By Carla Babb

Published 11 November 2022

The U.S. Air Force chief of staff is warning that the U.S. military must “change” if it wants to stay ahead of China and Russia.

The U.S. Air Force chief of staff is warning that the U.S. military must “change” if it wants to stay ahead of China and Russia.

“Our adversaries have continued to advance their capabilities at the same time we’ve been using some of the same capabilities we’ve been using for the past 30 years,” Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr. told VOA in an exclusive interview this week.

“The threat we were up against is not the threat we’ll see in the future,” he said. “And that’s why we’ve got to, we’ve got to change.”

One Air Force change will be front and center next month, when the United States unveils its new B-21 stealth bomber on December 2. The B-21 is set to replace the Air Force’s B-1 and B-2 bombers, which have been around since the 1980s.

Due to classification concerns, Brown did not provide the availability rates for the Air Force’s aircraft, which give leaders a clearer picture of what aircraft would be at their disposal in the event of a crisis.

“One thing I will say is that this is why I’m going to modernize, because we have some aircraft that are, from a maintenance standpoint, are a little harder, more difficult to maintain [with] diminishing resources for parts,” Brown said. “And that’s the aspect of being able to modernize — so we increase the aircraft availability and ensure we have a ready force.”

Russia Described as ‘Acute Threat’
The Biden administration released its national defense strategy this year that labels Russia, which started a war in February after invading its neighbor Ukraine, an “acute threat.”

China is the United States’ “pacing challenge” and greatest threat to national security, according to the unclassified document released last month.

China has more active duty military personnel than the United States and spent decades advancing its weapons. In the last few years, the Chinese military has built new aircraft carriers, new fighter jets and a massive missile arsenal.

Melanie Sisson, a defense analyst with the Brookings Institution, says it’s “fair” to acknowledge the progress of potential adversaries like China, “but that fact alone shouldn’t induce any panic in the United States.”

“We are still relatively very, very capable; the best military force in the world,” she told VOA.

I Continue to See China Sprinting’
China spent about $250 billion on its military in fiscal year 2022; the U.S. spent nearly eight times that amount.