War with China: The Memo From Four-Star General Mike Minihan on China Is Alarming
At this point, virtually every American has heard the rumors of a potential war with China. General Mike Minihan believes that such actions could be about two years away. Even other sources give us at least three years, but no matter what, such a conflict is going to be detrimental to the United States. Learn more about Mike Minihan, his memo on China, and how Airmen are responding to an impending conflict.
Related Read: Never Experienced a Nuke? Thank the Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Who Is Mike Minihan?
General Mike Minihan is a Four-Star General who commands the Air Mobility Command for the United States Air Force. Stationed out of Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, this command is responsible for air mobility missions that assist with joint force operations and other operations as needed for American allies and partners.
Mike Minihan has been serving as an Airman since 1990 after completing the ROTC program while attending Auburn University. In 1991, Minihan would complete his undergraduate pilot training to jumpstart a storied military career.
He has served in many capacities including commanding at various levels such as the garrison, crisis and combat, squadron, wing, and task force levels.
Minihan’s reputation, education, and experience are exemplary. The four stars alone tell his story. But despite his insight, experience, and ability, there are still some out there who aren’t taking kindly to his unfortunate prediction of a war with China in 2025.
The Four-Star General Believes Conflict With China Is Inevitable
Peace may be ideal, but preparation is essential. Gen. Mike Minihan seems to agree and believes that this is an essential time to become war ready. But don’t take our word for it. Here is the full memo from AMC Gen. Mike Minihan:
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
HEADQUARTERS AIR MOBILITY COMMAND
MEMORANDUM FOR 18 AF/CC, EC/CC, 22 AF/CC, 4 AF/CC, 618 AOC/CC, ALL AMC WING COMMANDERS
1 February 2023
SUBJECT: February 2023 Orders in Preparation for — The Next Fight
1. SITUATION. I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. [Chinese President Xi Jinping] secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025. We spent 2022 setting the foundation for victory. We will spend 2023 in crisp operational motion building on that foundation. If you want to know what the operational motion I demand looks like, look at what Total Force Team Charleston did in January.
2. COMMANDER’S INTENT. Go faster. Drive readiness, integration, and agility for ourselves and the Joint Force to deter, and if required, defeat China. This is the first of 8 monthly directives from me. You need to know I alone own the pen on these orders. My expectations are high, and these orders are not up for negotiation. Follow them. I will be tough, fair, and loving in my approach to secure victory.
3. END STATE. A fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain. Maximize the use of the force and the tools we currently have and extract full value from things that currently exist. Close the gaps: C2, navigation, maneuver under attack, and tempo.
4. RISK. Run deliberately, not recklessly. You will be governed by the principle of calculated training risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of death, serious injury, and Class A damage to attain higher readiness, integration, and agility. If the Tactic, Technique, and Procedure you are developing increases AMC’s ability to fight and win inside the first island chain… move out. If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.
5. OT&E. Attached are our OT&E efforts from 2022 Fall PHOENIX Rally, which will guide our preparation but are not intended to limit creativity of approach. This is not an all-encompassing list. I expect you to move out briskly on the monthly tasks, anticipate the projected tasks and weave them eloquently into your units’ training and operational battle rhythms.
(a) All AMC aligned personnel with weapons qualifications will fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.
(b) All AMC personnel will update vRED [virtual Record of Emergency Data].
(c) All commanders will acknowledge this order directly to me immediately. Then, report all 2022 accomplishments preparing for the China fight, and forecast major efforts in 2023 through command chains by COB 28 February 2023.
7. MARCH (Projected).
(a) All units will report progress toward established OT&E requirements for INDOPACOM Operations discussed and reviewed at Fall PHOENIX Rally.
(b) All AMC personnel will consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.
(c) KC-135 units will coordinate to provide a conceptual means of air delivering 100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.
8. APRIL (Projected).
(a) All units will report their integration and operation plans for MOBILITY GUARDIAN 2023 to include all events (lead-in and concurrent) they wish to include for credit.
9. ADMIN. AMC/A3 [Operations] will formalize these orders in FRAGO [Fragmentary Order] format. Completion, progress, reporting, reporting format, and advancement be measured, driven, and collected by our AMC/A3 Team through ARC [Air Reserve Command], NAF [Numbered Air Force] and EC [Expeditionary Center] leadership.
MICHAEL A. MINIHAN
Suggested Read: The Missile Silo Remains an Important Part of National Defense
But not everyone is convinced. Particularly, Airmen. This is evidenced in long-form articulate essays expressing their snarky opinions. Though opposing, these ideas are portrayed through eloquently created counterstudies.
We’re just kidding, it’s 2023, and they made memes.
Rightfully so! You’d be hard-pressed to find a better form of communication. In all seriousness, times change, and with it communication methods. The memes are coming and their creators have valid concerns.
Airmen are concerned that KC-135 aircraft have too many issues. Specifically, its faulty autopilot and flight altitude restrictions pose problems in a war with China. Some Airmen snipped that after seeing the memo, it might just be time for them to retire.
Overall, Gen. Minihan may wish to make the best of what’s available to the USAF, but many Airmen seem to think the force has bigger issues to face before entering a costly war with China.
If General Mike Minihan Is Right About a China War, the Toll Will Be Great
War with China could have a number of consequences for the U.S. and the world, and while it may be hard to predict exactly what would happen if it broke out, the outcome seems bleak regardless. This is something the military is all too aware of.
A previous what-if DC war game maps huge toll of a future US-China war over Taiwan. The exercise showed that while Taiwan should maintain victory through most scenarios, the devastation to the region would be quite serious.
This includes economic disruptions that would affect multiple countries, numerous human losses, deeper political issues, and damage to the environment. Such a conflict would also amount to the U.S. playing a larger role in Asia and placing more American troops in the Pacific.
The ripple effect of international backlash on all sides would also be a factor, and considering the instability in Europe at this time due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China at war with U.S. would only further exacerbate those issues.
“The results are showing that under most, though not all, scenarios, Taiwan can repel an invasion. However, the cost will be very high to the Taiwanese infrastructure and economy and to US forces in the Pacific,” said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
These sentiments and ideas are known by Gen. Mike Minihan all too well, only he believes the unfortunate events surrounding the conflict may come to a head sooner than later. While CSIS’s wargame prepared for a conflict in 2026, Minihan stands fast in his belief that war could come a year earlier.
“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” said Gen. Minihan.
One thing’s for certain. It doesn’t matter when we fight, only if we do so or not. This bleak reality continues to appear more likely all the time, and that means tens of thousands of Americans may die as a result. Bleaker still is that this is one of the better outcomes the CSIS wargame predicted.
Nuclear war isn’t on the table but it’s also a lot more realistic than it has been in quite some time. Mainly because of Russia’s aggression. But there are other factors at play, and these are only advancing the Doomsday Clock as a result.
No one will ever know what war with China will look like until it happens, but if it does, let’s hope that the world is prepared for the conflict Mike Minihan believes is on the horizon. Most importantly, let’s hope that if push comes to shove, nuclear weapons remain dormant on all sides.
Read Next: It’s the End of the Word at the Titan Missile Museum