DES MOINES, Iowa – The Biden Administration moves forward with its “reset” with China, marked by a recent visit by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to the region. The Pentagon under the Biden Administration has referred to China as a “pacing threat,” but a recent report showed the United States is not prepared should a conflict arise.
Last month, the Biden Administration announced a “China task force” to “provide a baseline assessment of department policies, programs and processes in regard to the challenge China poses.”
The Iowa Torch asked U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, what she believes the Biden Administration needs to address and whether it’s taking the right steps.
She implied the level of defense funding doesn’t match the Administration’s rhetoric.
“I have serious concerns over reports that the Biden administration plans to hold the defense budget flat for the coming fiscal year, maintaining it at the 2021 level—something I believe would be a mistake with serious consequences. A frozen defense budget will not satisfy the needs for the military to counter threats from near-peer adversaries, such as an emboldened China,” Ernst told The Iowa Torch.
“The Biden Administration must acknowledge and address the serious challenges and threats China poses as a near-peer adversary, economically and geopolitically, and keeping the budget flat would fail to do that. In fact, Defense experts have testified that even a modest budget growth is necessary to perform three important tasks at once: prepare the force for the future, maintain the improved levels of readiness, and recapitalize and grow our forces,” she added.
Ernst is mainly concerned with China’s artificial intelligence capabilities.
“As the top Republican on the Senate Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, one of the areas I’m particularly focused on is in China’s Artificial Intelligence technologies and the need for the U.S. to maintain and expand our readiness advantage over China in that space,” she said.
Ernst said that deterring China can only happen through a strong military, echoing the late President Ronald Reagan’s strategy toward the former Soviet Union.
“In that regard, now is not the time to coast on our advantages, but rather to reinforce and emphasize them. President Reagan’s strategy to achieve peace through strength has shown over the years to be a strong deterrent to our adversaries. President Biden needs to set up our warfighters for success by not short-changing funding for the Department of Defense. A flat budget won’t accomplish that,” she said.