Communist China has rapidly modernized its military. It is no longer a “near peer” threat, but is a peer adversary. It is a serious threat to our allies like Taiwan, Japan, Philippines and South Korea, as well as a real threat to Guam, Hawaii, and other American targets.

China is our No. 1 threat as outlined in the well-formulated 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy. The United States needs to rapidly respond to Beijing’s rapid military rise.

China has acquired cutting-edge technology and military capability “by all means possible” – including theft – to modernize its military. China is a significant threat in such areas as hypersonic missiles, nanotechnology, high-performance computing, quantum communications, space systems, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and robotics.

China invested heavily in long-range cruise missiles that are aimed at our bases, planes, airstrips, ships and ports across the Pacific. While our leadership cut the defense budget during sequestration, China took advantage to ramp up theirs. In the last 10 years, China had a 750% growth in their defense spending. Do we need to respond? Yes we do.

Communist China’s military is not about defending freedom. They have strong ambitions to dominate and project power. How do we know? They tell us. They publish books on how they are 70 years along in a 100-year war to dominate and defeat the U.S. They have large military parades showing off the latest missiles and technology. Our challenge with China is more than unfair trade, monetary manipulation, stealing intellectual property, and not following international rules of engagement. Are we listening?

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President Trump is the first president in 30 years to proclaim China a bad actor and a significant threat – a menace more than a market. Strength is the only way to deal with such a strong adversary.

In 1956, when communist leader Nikita Khrushchev told the western world “History is on our side. We will bury you!” – we took that threat seriously. Communist USSR had no intention of coexisting peacefully and they wanted to expand their empire to international domination. Communist China is no different. They plan to dominate Asia, the Pacific, and beyond – even the Arctic.

Besides the formidable China threat, we also face major threats from armed Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorists. This is no time to dally and delay on defense budgets.

Because of funding sequestration, many Air Force aircraft are operating beyond their expected lifespan. The numbers of airmen dropped to levels not seen since before World War II. Shortages in maintainers, pilots, cyber-workers and others with critical skills have been persistent and difficult to overcome. Years of sequestration resulted in the smallest, oldest, and an Air Force not ready for new threats. We need to modernize and restore. Over the last two years the Pentagon initiated aggressive and strategic modernization efforts to meet the challenges we face.

These modernization efforts require consistent, timely and predictable funding from Congress. Absent that, a rapid response and momentum is not possible. American security will further erode. Our military may find themselves outgunned and outmatched in a future conflict with an increasingly capable Chinese military. They have not slowed down so we can catch up.

Unfortunately our government has been functioning under a continuing resolution (CR) since Oct. 1, which freezes funding at last year’s appropriation levels. Under CR, needed budget adjustments and programmatic changes cannot be made. Those changes are essential to meet the new military threats we face.

The current CR ends Nov. 21. Lawmakers are considering a second stopgap CR until Dec. 20. Congress needs to change course and do its job to fully fund Defense for its authorized programs and capabilities for fiscal year 2020.

Extending this CR again and again will only be a self-inflicted wound, an unnecessary threat to rebuild, restore and modernize our Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines.

Most members of the Senate and House Defense Armed Services and Defense Appropriations Committees understand the threat and support our service members. Other lawmakers are too busy with impeachment to pay attention to the real threat to our nation. Lawmakers may disagree passionately on a variety of issues, but it is wrong to put our military in the middle of partisan crossfire.

Bruce Gjovig is active with the Grand Forks Base Retention efforts and developing Grand Sky (the nation’s first UAS airport), and serves nationally as a member of the US Air Force Civic Leaders Program appointed by the USAF chief of staff.