In his first comments to the press since returning from his visit to China in September, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said he learned a great deal touring Chinese air bases and seeing some of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft up close. While he didn’t get to see the much-touted J-20 stealth fighter, he did speak with Chinese pilots and learn a great deal about the country, he told reporters in Washington D.C. Wednesday. “I think we can communicate,” he said, which will help prevent “misinformation” and miscommunication, especially as the two militaries operate in and around Asia. The Air Force works with the Chinese in a few areas already, such as professional military exchanges as well as some exercises, particularly search and rescue collaboration. Even if politics demand the military-to-military relationship proceed more slowly, at least USAF has “a new high water mark,” he added. “Anything that helps us communicate in a more meaningful way is good, as we interact more with each other in that part of the world,” Welsh said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.