Navy SEAL who oversaw the bin Laden raid says China's massive military build-up is a 'holy s---' moment

Admiral William McRavenAdmiral William McRaven, who commanded the Bin Laden raid, is being eyed for a spot on the 2020 ticket after slamming President Trump last week in an op-ed.Charles Dharapak/AP Images

  • China's technological strategy and innovation are serious threats to US national security; now, according to retired Adm. William McRaven, the US has reached a 'holy s---" moment, and needs to invest more significantly in technology research and development to keep its edge.
  • "As we talk about the rise of China, the gap [between American inovation and Chinese innovation] is narrowing," McRaven said.
  • In some cases - like with 5G commercialization - China is already beating the US, and their intellectual property theft of US technology only compounds the rapid pace at which they're developing new technologies.
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The legendary former Navy SEAL Adm. Bill McRaven, who was head of Special Operations Command during the 2011 operation on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound, said at an event on Wednesday that China's technical and national defense capabilities were quickly approaching - sometimes surpassing - those of the US, representing what he called a "holy s---" moment for the US.

"We need to make sure that the American public know that now is the time to do something" about China's rapid increases in research and development in technology that threatens US national security, McRaven said at a Council on Foreign Relations event.

China is emerging as the most significant rival to the US; from hacking and intellectual property theft, to incursions into the South China Sea, China is asserting its dominance in the Pacific and its intention to compete militarily with the US. But particualrly in terms of technology and innovation, "As we talk about the rise of China, the gap [between American inovation and Chinese innovation] is narrowing," McRaven said.

Read more: Navy SEAL admiral reveals his biggest fear during planning of the bin Laden raid

In some cases, China is surpassing the US, according to the report. China is beating the US in 5G commercialization, for example, a necessary component of high-speed communication. What's more, Chinese-built 5G networks pose significant security risks to US national security, as evidenced by the US's contentious relationship with Chinese tech company Huawei.

China's intellectual property theft is a significant cause for concern, as well, and one that the US is confronting. Between October and December of 2018, Chinese hackers and intelligence personnel were indicted three times by the Department of Justice for intellectual property theft.

But it's not just about China's intellectual property theft; it's that they're out-innovating the US, and as their economy grows, they'll continue to do so. The report stresses the necessity of federal funding for tech research, and urges the Pentagon fast-track the adoption of tech innovation into its bureaucratic systems, a problem China doesn't have, thanks to its integration of military and civil technical innovation.

China's growing economy and investment in technical innovation has been a growing threat to the US's national security for years, but now is the US's "Sputnik moment," McRaven said, referring to US competition with Russia in the Cold War.

"If not now, when? And oh, by the way, it's just going to get harder as we get further into the future."

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