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Amid escalating tensions with China, Marine Corps commandant fears miscalculation

Ken Dalecki   বুধবার, ১৫ মার্চ ২০২৩ 12771
Amid escalating tensions with China, Marine Corps commandant fears miscalculation

Gen. David H. Berger, U.S Marine Corps Commandant, responds to a question at a National Press Club Headliners Luncheon March 14. Photo: Phil Pasquini

Gen. David H. Berger told a National Press Club Headliners Luncheon audience Tuesday that his biggest worry as he nears completion of fours years as Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps is a miscalculation due to the refusal of China’s military to communicate with its American counterpart.

The four-star general, who will retire to his Virginia farm in July, said he fears that an incident involving an accidental or rogue “collision” with a U.S. ship or aircraft involving China might not be defused as it otherwise would be because seven months ago China cancelled military consultations with the U.S. to protest then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Axios Managing editor and National Press Club President Eileen O’Reilly makes her opening remark in introducing Gen. David R Berger, U.S. Marine Crops Commandant . Photo: Phil Pasquini

Communications have not been reestablished in spite of escalating tensions between the U.S. and China over Taiwan and what Berger called China’s “baby steps” to encroach on nations around the South China Sea.

Noting that China is “playing the long game,” Berger said the U.S. must do the same and resist China’s “bullying” of the Philippines and Japan over disputed islands and fishing rights.  “We need to understand how to counter that,” he said.

Sayeed ur Rabb with Gen. David H. Berger, U.S Marine Corps Commandant. Photo-ANA

While some may worry that “the world is going off the rails” when reading daily headlines, Berger said 32,000 Marines stationed in 50 countries stand ready as the nation’s “premier crisis response force.” He said the current force is “the best I have served with” during a 40-year career. He said the number of Marines extending their enlistments is exceeding expectations and that the Corps is focusing on quality over quantity.

Berger said the Corps is taking lessons from private industry to meet logistics challenges more serious than it has faced for more than 50 years. He cited, for example, his talks with Frederick Smith, a Marine veteran who founded and chairs FedEx Corporation, the world’s largest transportation company. Also, he said, the Corps is working to meet the increasing pace of change by quickly testing new ideas, many of which come from lower ranks.

He said the Corps has the world’s best aircraft in the F-35 and vertical takeoff Osprey but warned that it needs “a bare minimum” of 31 amphibious assault ships, which he dubbed “the Swiss Army knife” of deferent force.  The U.S. has 31 such ships, but the proposed Pentagon budget has no provision for additional ships.

Asked about the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Berger urged listeners to separate the “politics” from what he said were extraordinary the efforts of Marines on the ground. He said the military had little time to prepare once President Biden ordered the quick withdrawal.

Asked about eroding support for U.S. institutions, including the military, Berger said he is concerned about the growing “disconnect” between the public and those who serve in uniform.  He said a small force of Marines in Syria is necessary to keep a lid of extremist groups.

“We need to bring him back,” Berger said when asked about Austin Tice, a freelance US journalist captured while reporting in Syria in 2012. Tice, a former Marine Corp officer, is the focus of a National Press Club campaign to win his freedom.

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Posted ২:৪৫ অপরাহ্ণ | বুধবার, ১৫ মার্চ ২০২৩

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