Senator David Perdue: Combatting Symmetric Threats From China And Russia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, and Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, about the threats posed against the U.S. by China and Russia.

Click here to watch the exchange or click on the image below. 


China’s Efforts to Expand Its Influence

Senator Perdue: General Stewart, you said in your opening remarks that we’ve gone from a “1 + 1” strategy in our military today to a “4 + 1”—you just mentioned five: North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, and extremists. On top of that, we have cyber and space. I want to talk about China and Russia, our two symmetric, contrarian threats. This year China will spend $826 billion, projected in real equivalent purchasing power parity terms, on their military. We’ll spend directionally $600 billion. I would argue that today we have the smallest Army since WWII, the smallest Navy since WWI, and the smallest and oldest Air Force ever. What is China’s purpose in this massive buildup that they are in the midst of right now?

Lt. Gen. Stewart: Purpose number one: to be able to fight and win in the Pacific.

Senator Perdue: Would you say they’re on parity with us in the Pacific today? Does your intelligence reveal that?

Lt. Gen. Stewart: In some aspects, and I won’t talk about them here, there’s parity; but in some areas we’re still far superior. We look at them in all domains: space, cyberspace, air, land, sea, and surface—so we’re competing in all those domains. [Their] primary objective: fight and win in the Pacific; be prepared if the United States entered a conflict in the Pacific; and increase the cost of any of our actions in the Pacific.

Russian Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD)

Senator Perdue: Russia in the last five years has dramatically increased its global footprint. They have Mirmansk, Kaliningrad, Crimea, and now, Tartus and Latakia on the coast of Syria. What does our intelligence say that Russia intends to do having encircled that part of the world with those major bases?

Lt. Gen. Stewart: The “encirclement” as you describe it—the Western anti-axis barrier—runs from the Arctic through Mirmansk, through Kaliningrad, Crimea, and down. [Russia’s military buildup] is to break out of the “encirclement”—their words—caused by NATO countries in their near abroad. So again, the Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) capability is to increase the cost of any U.S./NATO action against Russia, and to protect and give them buffer space. I don’t think they’re done. I think they’d like to extend that barrier down through the Mediterranean. I’m worried about actions that they might take in Libya to increase that barrier. But that is about breaking out of the NATO encirclement.

China’s Military Buildup In Africa

Senator Perdue: Africa is a major involvement for China: economically, militarily—they’re building a base right now in Djibouti just miles away from our base at Camp Lemonnier. What is the purpose of that base and are you concerned? What does our intelligence say that their objective is in Africa?

Director Coats: Well the Chinese are expanding their influence globally. They are looking at areas of the world that you wouldn’t necessarily think a regional power like China would want to be engaged in. The Chinese are making substantial investments, and sometimes linking that, as you mentioned, with Djibouti and building a base there. I think they view that as part of their long-term strategy to become a global power—not just a regional power. They are spending an extraordinary amount of effort and investment. That One Belt, [One] Road situation gives them access: expedited access to Europe, but access, also, to the Indian Ocean region and the Middle East. So they’ve been very aggressive in pursuing those types of initiatives, I think, with the long-term strategy in mind of being a global power.

View Senator Perdue’s full remarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats here.


Senator Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.