Republican US Senator Tom Cotton in a Tuesday interview to Fox News voiced doubt about whether the US Navy is capable of defeating China in battle, pointing at how the American military has, in his opinion, shifted away from warfighting.
"Obviously, the Navy has a big and complex task, but the single most important thing we have our surface Navy for is to be ready to fight and defeat the Chinese Navy", Cotton said. "And right now, I have real problems -- real doubts – the Navy has instilled the kind of warfighting mentality that would allow us to accomplish that goal."
He also referred to a recent military report delivered to members of Congress that, according to Cotton's earlier statement, "found that a staggering 94% of sailors interviewed believe that the surface Navy suffers from a crisis of leadership and culture."
"It's coming from sailors, it's coming from the sailors and their chiefs and their junior officers, and in some cases, commanding officers who have lost confidence that the Navy's surface warfare component is ready to fight and win tonight", Cotton told Fox News.
The senator asserted that the United States "allowed China to steal a march on us that relates especially shipbuilding", pointing at a "massive shipbuilding campaign" by Beijing and suggesting that Washington should follow their lead. He also said that changes are needed in the way sailors and officers are trained, noting that, according to the military report, "in some cases" the soldiers are handed DVDs to watch in their spare time to train.
"We would never do that to a Navy aviator, we would never do it to a Navy nuclear engineer", Cotton argued. "We shouldn't be doing it to our surface warfare officers either. They deserve a lot better, and the sailors they lead deserve a lot better as well."
The delivery of "A Report on the Fighting Culture of the United States Navy’s Surface Fleet" was ordered by Cotton and some of his House counterparts, including GOP Representatives Jim Banks, Dan Crenshaw, and Mike Gallagher.
This is not the first time Republican lawmakers have questioned the readiness of the American military, the world's largest by a significant margin. Many conservatives blast the US military for being "woke" and "emasculated", particularly Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz, who shared a video in which he compared the US military with the Russian army.
Some observers have criticized the American military for their rollout of so-called 'woke' ad videos or offering Zodiac horoscopes for soldiers, arguing that the focus should be on professionalism and not sexual orientation, gender, race, or even astrological aspects.
The sentiment, however, does not appear to be shared by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who noted in late May that he would not "lose one minute of sleep" over what Russia or China say about the US military, which he deemed "the best" in the world today.