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RED FLAG: US warns China with massive military exercise

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Air Mobility Command chief and four-star US Air Force General Mike Minihan had warned earlier in 2023 that the US will be at war with China over Taiwan within the next two years

The US Air Force (USAF) exercise Red Flag has been designed to give its pilots a genuine sense of conflict for more than 50 years. The Red Flag 2023 has been prepared with an aggressive China in mind, as well as the preservation of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.

In order to prepare for a future clash with China as Beijing steps up its pressure on Taiwan, the USAF teamed up with the US Navy’s aircraft carrier combat group.

“The Department of Defense prioritizes the People’s Republic of China as our number one pacing challenge,” US Air Force Colonel Eric Winterbottom, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, said in a press release issued by the USAF.

“By training together in a realistic and challenging environment, the USAF and Navy enhanced their joint capabilities, bolstering the nation’s ability to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.

“My priority for future Red Flag exercises is to ensure realism and relevance. Red Flag will continue to expand into long-range, dispersed, joint and coalition, peer-contested training scenarios. We also train to respond to and effectively deter nation-state threats emanating from Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and transnational and non-state actor threats from violent extremist organizations, such as those operating in the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central Asia.”

US Air Force General Mark Kelly, head of the service’s Air Combat Command, announced this in a tweet: “Congratulations to all who participated in RED FLAG – NELLIS 23-3. This was RF’s (Red Flag) first maritime integration into the Navy’s COMPTUEX, the largest adaptation of RF since its inception nearly 50 years ago.”

Before leaving for a six-month deployment, each Carrier Battle Group participates in a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). Along with EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the US Naval surface ships and carrier-based forces participated in exercise Red Flag 23-3.

The exercise, which ran from July 17 to August 4, involved the use of the Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, B-1 bombers, KC-135 and KC-46 tankers, and HH-60G Pavehawk rescue helicopters.

A video of the Red Flag exercise shared by General Kelly said: “The idea was to give them (air force pilots) up to 10 reps of realistic live training in air-to-air combat, large force engagement, so they had those (skills) under their belt when they went to deployment.”

According to reports, the Red Flag 23-3 was designed to handle a potential Pacific war with China brought on by Beijing’s aggression against the island of Taiwan. The DoD has been raising concerns about a possible conflict with China by 2025.

Air Mobility Command chief and four-star US Air Force General Mike Minihan had warned earlier in 2023 that the US will be at war with China over Taiwan within the next two years and advised them to prepare by firing “a clip” at a target and “aiming for the head.”

In a memo, General Minihan said: “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me (we) will fight in 2025.”

In the memo, General Minihan stated that the US will be “distracted” by Taiwan and the US’s presidential elections in 2024, giving Chinese President Xi Jinping the chance to visit Taiwan.

With roughly 50,000 military men and close to 500 aircraft, Air Mobility Command is in charge of transportation and refuelling.

There is no proof that Russia’s bumbling invasion of Ukraine has changed China’s intentions about a prospective invasion of Taiwan, according to a recent study by the eminent strategic think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Chinese military preparations to completely blockade and encircle Taiwan if it decides to make a military move on the island are substantial and comprehensive, according to recent media reports.

Since former US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August 2022, a variety of drills simulating every facet of a military operation, including new and unique exercises around the island, have been reported. Many facets of China’s approach to cross-Strait relations, its relationships with the US, and regional and international politics were irreversibly changed by the incident.

If Taiwan declares formal independence, China will not be reluctant to employ force against the island nation, despite the US defence experts’ apparent preference for caution.