WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to become the country's top uniformed military officer on Thursday referred to the possibility of deploying ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in the Indo-Pacific region in response to China's military buildup.
The reference by Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, Trump's pick to replace Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may raise speculation about such deployment following the expiration in August of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 pact between the United States and Russia.
Asked in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing if he thinks conventionally armed ground-launched intermediate-range missiles would be helpful in countering Beijing's rising assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, Milley said, "I do."
However, he did not say when and where the U.S. military should deploy such missiles.
The United States and its allies have grown concerned that China, a non-INF treaty party, is gaining a significant military advantage in the Indo-Pacific by developing missiles with ranges beyond the pact's limit.
In the hearing, Milley said he thinks China is the "main threat" to U.S. security over the next 50 to 100 years.
Asked if he thinks Washington would win in an arms race, presumably against Beijing, he said, "I hope we don't have an arms race."
In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in late June in Osaka, western Japan, Trump said a new arms control regime must include China, not just the United States and Russia.