Four-star General John E. Hyten, the outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned this week that communist China’s military progression is “stunning” and that the U.S. must take immediate action to remain the world’s preeminent superpower.
Hyten made the remarks following China’s second hypersonic missile test, which reportedly caught U.S. intelligence officials off guard.
“Calling China a pacing threat is a useful term because the pace at which China is moving is stunning,” Hyten said on Thursday. “The pace they’re moving and the trajectory they’re on will surpass Russia and the United States if we don’t do something to change it. It will happen. So I think we have to do something.”
“It’s not just the United States but the United States and our allies because that’s the thing that really changes the game,” Hyten added. “If it’s the United States only, it’s going to be problematic in five years. But if it’s the United States and our allies, I think we can be good for a while.”
Hyten warned that the U.S. is currently only making “marginal progress” in responding to the growing Chinese threat because “the Department of Defense is still unbelievably bureaucratic and slow.”
“We can go fast if we want to, but the bureaucracy we put in place is just brutal,” Hyten continued.
Hyten specifically pointed to hypersonic missiles as one of the key areas where China has made significant progress that outpaces the U.S., noting that the U.S. has only conducted several hypersonic tests over the last five years while China has “done hundreds.”
“Single digits versus hundreds is not a good place,” Hyten said. “Now it doesn’t mean that we’re not moving fast in the development process of hypersonics, what it does tell you is that our approach to development is fundamentally different.”
Hyten also warned that the way the U.S. approaches failure and how it learns from those failures is a problem.
“We’ve decided that failure is bad,” Hyten said. “Nope, failure is part of the learning process. And if you want to get back to speed, you better figure out how to put speed back into [sic] and that means taking risk and that means learning from failures and that means failing fast and moving fast.”
Hyten’s remarks follow a warning from House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) this week that the Biden administration’s focus on “wokeness” was hampering the U.S.’s ability to deter threats and win wars.
“Unfortunately, we can’t counter hypersonic missile launch with better pronoun usage,” Nunes continued. “And a deeper understanding of white rage won’t rescue Americans stranded in Afghanistan. I’d argue that woke obsessions are the proper jurisdiction of faculty lounge Marxists, not our national security agencies. The politicization of our national security apparatus is utterly destructive.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.