Courtesy of the Honorable Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), Ranking Member – House Armed Services Committee – Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee

Earlier this week, Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), made it very clear — China and the ruling Chinese Communist Party pose a very real existential threat to the United States which most American’s do not realize. STRATCOM has a mission to protect the country by deterring attacks and, if that fails, prepare to respond.

In no uncertain terms, Adm. Richard said: “I get apprehensive that we are not fully conscious as a nation of the threats that we face. China now has the capability … to directly threaten our homeland from a ballistic missile submarine. That’s a pretty watershed moment.”

Richard’s comments follow the release earlier this month of the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power, which states the country now has the largest navy in the world and is planning to grow its nuclear weapons arsenal. The estimated number of nuclear warheads that China has is “in the low 200s,” according to the report. “Over the next decade, China will expand and diversify its nuclear forces, likely at least doubling its nuclear warhead stockpile.”

Also according to the report, “[china] has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants.” The Pentagon also reported that “China is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage,” adding that the country is currently striving to increase “its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes.” By the end of this decade, China is expected to operate as many as 400 ships.

It is clear, the economic policies of China and its militarization of the South China Sea and Russia’s efforts to undermine NATO and its nuclear arsenal are major concerns for the U.S. military.

In Washington, I am working through my role as Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee to ensure that our nation’s military budget is at the point it needs to be to maintain readiness, improve our systems, and outpace our competitors.

Making uniformed blanket cuts to our national security budget is a non-starter in Washington and it should be seen as such for any Member of Congress who fully understands the threats facing our nation. I will continue working in Washington to keep our service members well-equipped and well-prepared and will continue working for those who fight for us.