Milley: ‘the potential for international conflict is increasing, not decreasing’ – Ground Forces

The top US military official told lawmakers on Tuesday that the world is becoming more unstable and “the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing.”

US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appeared before the House Armed Services Committee in their first testimony before Congress since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two Pentagon leaders said threats from Russia and China remain significant as they defend the United States’ approach to the war and the flow of weapons the US is sending to Ukraine.

Milley said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “the greatest threat to the peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world” in his 42 years serving in the US military, but added that it was “exciting” to see the world gather around him. from Ukraine.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens to undermine not only European peace and stability, but the global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend,” Milley said.

“We are now facing two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, both aiming to fundamentally change the rules based on the current global order,” added Milley. “We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing”.

Lawmakers on both sides focused on hearing about the weapons being supplied to Ukraine, asking what else could be done as Ukraine continues to ask for additional resources.

“One of the biggest questions we’re going to have on this committee is, ‘How can we do more?’” House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state, said at the hearing. “How can we be sure that we are doing absolutely everything we can to help them?”

Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama, the main Republican at the meeting, said he would support the US in creating permanent bases in eastern NATO countries such as Poland and the Baltics to deter Russia. Milley said he would support the establishment of permanent bases, but added that he thought US forces should pass through them to create a deterrent without incurring the costs of moving families, establishing schools and other necessary measures when a permanent US base is needed. established abroad.

“I believe that many of our European allies, especially those like in the Baltic, Poland, Romania or elsewhere, are very, very willing to set up permanent bases,” Milley said. “They’re going to build them, they’re going to pay for them, etc. for us to move around on a rotating basis. So you have the effect of the permanent presence of forces, but the actual individual soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines will not be permanently stationed there for 2-3 years.”

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

Several Republicans asked Milley and Austin if the US had failed in its efforts to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from attacking Ukraine. Milley responded that she didn’t think Putin could have been deterred unless US forces were deployed from Ukraine – a scenario he would have advised against had it been proposed.

“Honestly, apart from the commitment of US military forces in Ukraine itself, I’m not sure it was possible to stop it. This has been a long-term goal of his that goes back years,” Milley said. “I think the idea of ​​deterring Putin from invading Ukraine by deterring him by the United States would require the commitment of US military forces, and I think that would risk an armed conflict with Russia, which I certainly would not have advised.”

Milley noted that the sanctions “have a very poor record of deterring aggression,” but said they managed to impose significant costs on Russia for their attack.

“The purpose of the sanctions is to impose significant costs should he break in, these significant costs, the sanctions in combination with the export controls, are weighing on the Russian economy as we speak,” he said.

Austin later added that if the US “put forces in Ukraine to fight Putin, that would be a different story.”

“But we made the decision that we weren’t going to do that and we made the decision for the right reasons, and I support those decisions,” Austin said, adding that he didn’t want to speculate on what Chinese leaders might extrapolate in Taiwan from what is happening in Ukraine.

Milley defended the US military’s policy requiring troops to receive Covid-19 vaccines in response to several questions from Republicans asking whether the military should be discharged for refusing to be vaccinated when Army recruitment numbers dwindled.

Milley noted that service members are required to receive multiple vaccines as part of joining the military, such as an anthrax vaccine, and said the Covid-19 vaccine contributed to forcing readiness.

At a heated moment, Austin got into an argument with Representative Matt Gaetz after the Florida Republican accused the Pentagon of being too focused on “being conscientious about the issue” rather than on defense.

Austin accused Gaetz of looking “ashamed for his country” by questioning the capabilities of the US military, and the two men yelled at each other at various points.

Gaetz accused the Pentagon of “mistaking” in predicting that Russia would invade Ukraine in a few days and that the Taliban would not take control of Afghanistan last year. “You totally ignored these calls and maybe we would be better at them if the National Defense University really did work a little more on strategy and a little less on awareness,” Gaetz said.

“Has it ever occurred to you that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine because of what we did and what our allies did?” Austin asked. “Have you think about it?”.

SOURCE:
CNN

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