“I hope I’m wrong,” Minihan wrote. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi secured his third term in office and assembled his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential election is in 2024 and will give Xi a reason. The presidential election in the United States is in 2024 and will leave Xi with a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
Minihan then orders airmen qualified to use a weapon to “fire a clip into a 25-foot target with the full realization that unrepentant lethality matters most” sometime in February.
“Aim for the head,” he said.
Minihan’s memo encourages the thousands of troops under his command to prepare for war in several other ways. All personnel reporting to him should “consider their personal matters” and be more aggressive about training, he instructs.
“Run intentionally, not recklessly,” he writes. “If you’re comfortable with your approach to training, then you’re not taking enough risks.”
The memo, first reported Friday by NBC News, is dated Feb. 1 — which is still days away — and was distributed to Minihan’s deputy commanders. Verifying its authenticity, an Air Force spokeswoman, Major Hope Cronin, wrote in a statement shared with the media after the memo began circulating on social media that Minihan’s command “builds on Air Mobility Command’s fundamental efforts of last year to prepare the Air Mobility Forces for future conflict should deterrence fail.”
Prior to taking over Air Mobility Command in 2021, Minihan held several influential positions in the Pacific as of 2013. She served as deputy commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, with the jurisdiction of China and Taiwan, from September 2019 to August 2021.
The general’s memo coincides with the Pentagon’s effort to reset 20 years of counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East and as the Biden administration continues to equip Ukraine with billions of dollars in security aid in its push to fend off a Russian invasion. to ward off.
Senior US officials have been warning for some time that a rising China could launch an attack on Taiwan, which is governed independently. The Department of Defense under President Biden and his predecessor, President Donald Trump, has declared China as its top long-term concern, citing Beijing’s rapid military expansion and assertive behavior in recent years.
But U.S. officials have released mixed messages about whether and when China could attempt to take Taiwan. In 2021, Adm. Phil Davidson, then the chief of the US Indo-Pacific Command, that Beijing could make such an attempt by 2027. That timeline has since been dubbed “the Davidson window” by some national security scholars.
In light of its concerns about China, the Pentagon has sought to expand military partnerships with willing partners in the Pacific. This month, the US and Japanese governments announced that a Marine Corps unit based on the Japanese island of Okinawa will be transformed into a force capable of plunging islands in the region and launching long-range missiles at opponents.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a January 11 press conference along with Japanese officials that the United States had observed “highly provocative behavior” by Chinese troops in an effort to shift international standards. But he also downplayed concerns that China could soon launch an attack on Taiwan.
“We’ve seen increased activity in air activity,” Austin said. “…We have seen an increase in surface craft activity around Taiwan. And again, we believe they are trying to establish a new normal, but whether or not that means an invasion is imminent, I highly doubt it.”
Minihan, who joined the Air Force as a C-130 pilot, was notable for his shrill, colorful use of language.
In September, he said at a military conference outside Washington that the air force had created the largest “pile of deadly enemies in our country” within the US military.
“Letality is most important,” he added, according to Task & Purpose, a military publication. “If you can kill your enemy, every part of your life is better. Your food tastes better. Your marriage is stronger.”