Dover Air Force Base updates community in State of the Base briefing Nov. 25.
The same words you may have heard spouted off debate stages and news channels were at the center of a community briefing at Dover Air Force Base.
China, Russia and the digital threats they present are among the nation’s top defense priorities, Col. Joel W. Safranek and Delaware’s congressional delegates said.
Following direction from the chief of staff, the military has shifted from focusing on terrorism to “interstate strategic competition” from China and Russia, Safranek said.
The Nov. 25 State of the Base Briefing was sponsored by the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
Sen. Chris Coons said China and Russia are actively pushing back against liberties guaranteed by democracy in the United States.
“I recently had a classified briefing on China’s military investments and developments that was chilling. I don’t think I had any idea just how fast and how far China has come as our likely potential adversary until the last six months,” Coons said.
Dover Air Force Base has partnered with the Delaware Civil Air Patrol and Delaware Air National Guard to conduct exercises that involved drone attacks and a basewide power outage, Safranek told the business partners, politicians and military members at the briefing.
The airmen took down all the drones in the first exercise and continued to accomplish their mission without power in the latter, he said.
Coons and the other delegates applauded these more cyber-focused exercises.
“We have to be prepared for a world that is more cyber, more digital and where we are likely to face more threats from cheaper, faster, more lethal systems that are more like clouds of drones autonomously attacking our ships and our aircraft than like aircraft carrier to aircraft carrier,” Coons said.
Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester said she spent four years in China and understands the threats to democracy from both countries.
“They are real threats,” she said. “Their desire is not to be like us. Their desire is not to have this form of government.”
The State of the Base is an opportunity for the base to communicate about priorities and spending, especially construction.
For example, the base will spend about $30 million in facility repairs and it will continue building new schools, a $47 million project.
At a time when suicide rates are high among active-duty military members, Safranek said the base is committed to caring for its families through efforts like the Thunder Over Dover air show, celebrity appearances like Chef Robert Irvine and activities around the holidays.
The base advocates for universal professional licenses, meaning a military spouse who works as a lawyer in Delaware, for example, can practice in any state.
As Thanksgiving approaches, the congressional delegates thanked the families and military members for their service.
“In our family, we give thanks for you,” Sen. Tom Carper said. “Your service is critical to our being able to survive and prosper as a nation.”