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Leaked memo reveals US general's 'gut feeling' of war with China in 2 years

Michael Minihan calls for 'unrepentant lethality' and also says killing enemy makes life better

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The USS Coronado launches a Harpoon missile during military training exercises in the Pacific. 

The USS Coronado launches a Harpoon missile during military training exercises in the Pacific.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — United States Air Force General Michael Minihan believes the US will engage China in an armed conflict over Taiwan within the next two years, according to a leaked memo dated Feb. 1, 2023.

In the memo, obtained Friday (Jan. 27) by NBC News and subsequently posted on Twitter, Minihan tells those under his command, “I hope I am wrong … (but) my gut tells me we will fight in 2025.” Minihan cites Taiwan and the U.S.’ 2024 presidential elections as motivation for a Chinese attack on the island nation.

Minihan also referenced Chinese leader Xi Jinping's (習近平) third term as leader and his “war council” as reasons for an impending invasion. China does not have a “war council” as Minihan writes in his memo, though he possibly means the Chinese Central Military Commission, China’s equivalent to the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Despite what Minihan’s “gut” is telling him, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said earlier this month that he seriously doubts a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is imminent. Further comments from the U.S. Department of Defense obtained by NBC news following the publication of the memo state that “these comments are not representative of the department’s view on China.”

Minihan is head of the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC), a unit responsible for moving U.S. armed forces throughout the world, with over 110,000 troops. The memo gives troops a timeframe, by February: “All AMC aligned personnel with weapons qualifications will fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters the most. Aim for the Head.”

The memo also instructs troops that by March they should have settled their personal affairs and ensure they are prepared for a conflict.

Minihan is no stranger to bold statements. When speaking to an industry conference in May about U.S. preparedness for an armed conflict with China in the Pacific, he said that killing the enemy “makes every part of your life better,” makes a marriage stronger, and food taste better.