Gates also said that even though he “hopes” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually wind down, the US military “has never been at a loss in being told to find things to do,” seeing a number of potential conflicts on the horizon.
To that end Gates tapped three nations is likely targets for the ominous “things to do” list. Two were predictably Iran and North Korea, two nations he has often discussed attacking in public comments. The other was China.
Gates cited a “very aggressive weapons building program in China” as something for the military to address. Though officials have often presented China as an upcoming threat, it does not appear to be based on anything practical, and indeed the US military budget is still many times what their Chinese counterparts are.