Four-star Air Force General Mike Minihan sent a memo on Friday, warning the officers he commands that he sees war on the horizon — with China — in less than two years.
Minihan, who reportedly sent the memo out to all of the air wing commanders in Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders, is in charge of some 50,000 service members and 500 planes in the Air Mobility Command.
According to NBC News, which obtained a copy of the memo, Minihan warned that upcoming elections in 2024 — both in the United States and Taiwan — could provide enough cover that China might feel emboldened to make a move against Taiwan while the rest of the world was distracted.
“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” he wrote. “Xi 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.”
Minihan directed his officers to lay out a plan to prepare for potential war with China. He instructed them to report back to him with their plans — and any efforts they may have already made — no later than February 28.
Minihan also laid out a series of steps that officers should be taking in their efforts to prepare, saying that his ultimate goal was to build “a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.”
He went on to lay out what they should be doing in the coming months, beginning with February: “Fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.”
In March, he suggested that they make sure their legal affairs were handled in case of a deployment, saying that they should “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.”
A spokesperson for the Air Mobility Command confirmed that the memo was real and had been sent to ensure that Minihan’s officers were ready to act if all efforts at deterrence should fail.
“This is an authentic internal memo from General Minihan addressed to his subordinate command teams. His order builds on last year’s foundational efforts by Air Mobility Command to ready the Mobility Air Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail,” the spokesperson told NBC News on Friday.
After NBC News went public with the contents of the memo, the Defense Department issued a statement, saying, “These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China.”