When asked on Wednesday whether the climate or China poses a bigger threat, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that both issues "are equally important."
Kirby, the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, noted that the Defense Department considers China its top pacing challenge, but also pointed out that the secretary has described the climate issue as an existential threat.
"I think we get paid to examine all the threats to our national security. And I don't know that it does anybody good to put some sort of relative analysis assessment on that," he said.
He noted that the secretary has spoken "about the climate as a, a, a real and existential national security threat. And it is, not just to the United States but to countries all over the world. And we consider China as the number one pacing challenge for the department. Both are equally important," Kirby said, noting that the secretary wants senior Pentagon leaders to devote attention to both of those issues in addition to many other matters.
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During remarks at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland President Biden claimed that "Climate change is already ravaging the world" and described the issue as "the existential ... threat to human existence as we know it."
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley has said that China is the top geostrategic threat that America faces.
"As we go forward over the next 10, 20, 25 years, there's no question in my mind that the biggest geostrategic challenge to the United States is gonna be China," Milley said during an interview on The Dave Rubenstein Show: Peet-to-Peer Conversations.
"They're expanding rapidly in space, in cyber, and then in the traditional domains of land, sea, and air. And they have gone from a peasant-based infantry army that was very, very large in 1979, to a very capable military that covers all the domains and has global ambitions," Milley said.