Top US General: The potential for ‘significant international conflict’ is growing

Coalition leaders General Mark Millie and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the House Armed Services Committee in their first testimony before Congress after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two Pentagon leaders said the threats from both Russia and China were significant, while they defended the US approach to war and the US arms shipment to Ukraine.

Millie said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “the biggest threat to peace and security in Europe” and had served in the U.S. military for 42 years, but said it was “heartbreaking” to see a global rally around Ukraine.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens to undermine European peace and stability, but undermines world peace and stability. My parents and a generation of Americans fought very hard to defend it,” Millie said.

“We now face two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities that want to change the rules based on the current global order,” Millie added. “We are entering a world that is becoming more volatile and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not diminishing.”

Lawmakers on both sides focused on the investigation into the weapons supplied to Ukraine, asking if more could be done as Ukraine continues to seek additional capabilities.

“One of the biggest questions we’ll face in this group is, ‘How can we do more?'” “How do we make sure we do everything we can to help them?”

Mike Rogers, the group’s top Republican representative in Alabama, said he supported the US setting up permanent bases in eastern NATO countries such as Poland and the Baltics to block Russia. Millie said she supported the establishment of permanent bases, but said she thought U.S. forces should be able to move through them without incurring the costs of moving families, setting up schools and other activities required when establishing a permanent U.S. base abroad.

“I hope many of our European partners, especially those in the Baltic or Poland or Romania or elsewhere, are very ready to establish permanent bases,” Millie said. “They will build them and pay for them. They have not been stopped permanently for 2-3 years.”

Austin said NATO was still debating how to strengthen its permanent presence in Eastern Europe. “If NATO deems it appropriate to change its trajectory, we will certainly be a part of it,” Austin said.

Many Republicans have asked Millie and Austin whether the United States has failed in its efforts to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. Millie responded that she did not think Putin could have been detained unless US troops had been sent from Ukraine.

“I can not honestly say the stability of the U.S. military in Ukraine, I do not know if he is weak. This is his long-term goal, which goes back many years,” Millie said. “I think the commitment of the US military is needed to prevent Putin from invading Ukraine and to prevent him from being targeted by the United States. I do not think it would endanger the armed conflict with Russia. I would not have advised that.”

Millie noted that sanctions “have a very bad record of preventing occupation,” but that they have succeeded in imposing substantial costs on Russia’s occupation.

“The purpose of the sanctions is to impose substantial costs if he invades.

Austin later said, “If the United States sends troops into Ukraine to fight Putin, it will be a different story.”

“But we made a decision that we were not going to do it, we made the right decision, and I support those decisions,” Austin said, not wanting to speculate on what Chinese leaders might extract. Took place in Ukraine in connection with Taiwan.

Millie backed the U.S. military’s policy of requiring troops to receive Govt-19 vaccines in response to a number of Republicans’ questions about whether service members should be discharged for refusing to be vaccinated when military recruitment numbers are low.

Millie noted that as part of joining the military, like the anthrax vaccine, service members should receive a large number of vaccines, and that the Govt-19 vaccine contributed to compulsory readiness.

In a heated moment, the Florida Republican Party got into an argument with Austin’s Rep. Matt Gates that the Pentagon is focusing too much on “intelligence” and not on security.

Austin accused Gates of “embarrassing his country” by questioning the capabilities of the U.S. military, and the two shouted at each other in several places.

Gates accused the Pentagon of “making a mistake” by predicting that Russia would seize Ukraine in a few days and that the Taliban would not be in control of Afghanistan last year. “You completely blew those calls. We could have made them better if the National Defense University had actually acted a little more strategically and a little less in awareness,” Gates said.

“Do you think Russia did not capture Ukraine for what we did and what our allies did?” Austin asked. “Have you ever thought about that?”

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