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Russia, China closing military gap with US, Hagel says

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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

Russia and China are increasingly closing the technology gap with the US military by developing weapons systems that challenge traditional US advantages, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

Hagel was speaking Wednesday to members of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance at a conference on defense innovation, before a NATO summit expected to focus on Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West and the need for the NATO alliance to boost military spending.

The Pentagon chief warned that Moscow and Beijing are modernizing their armed services, including their electronic warfare and special operations capabilities,

“China and Russia have been trying to close the technology gap by pursuing and funding long-term, comprehensive military modernization programs,” Hagel said. “They are also developing anti-ship, anti-air, counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare and special operations capabilities that appear designed to counter traditional US military advantages.”

Russia and China have been rapidly increasing their military spending and have tested a series of sophisticated weapons, including radar-evading aircraft and anti-ship missiles that fly many times the speed of sound.

Hagel also warned that terrorist groups are rapidly acquiring advanced weapons and unless the United States takes these threats seriously, American troops would be at grave risk on the battlefield.

“We are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space not to mention cyberspace can no longer be taken for granted,” said Hagel. “And while the United States continues to maintain a decisive military and technological edge over any potential adversary, our continued superiority is not a given.”

Hagel said the United States needs to invest wisely in the face of declining budgets in order to ensure its adversaries do not surpass the US military.


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