Read for Yourself: The Full Memo from AMC Gen. Mike Minihan

On Jan. 27, a memo from Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Mike Minihan began circulating on social media. In it, Minihan warned of a possible war between the U.S. and China in 2025 and offered instructions for the Airmen of AMC.

The memo generated international headlines and sparked debate among lawmakers, experts, and observers. The full text of the memo can be read below, with additional context in brackets:




1 February 2023

SUBJECT: February 2023 Orders in Preparation for — The Next Fight

  1. SITUATION. I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. [Chinese President Xi Jinping] secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025. We spent 2022 setting the foundation for victory. We will spend 2023 in crisp operational motion building on that foundation. If you want to know what the operational motion I demand looks like, look at what Total Force Team Charleston did in January.
  2. COMMANDER’S INTENT. Go faster. Drive readiness, integration, and agility for ourselves and the Joint Force to deter, and if required, defeat China. This is the first of 8 monthly directives from me. You need to know I alone own the pen on these orders. My expectations are high, and these orders are not up for negotiation. Follow them. I will be tough, fair, and loving in my approach to secure victory.
  3. END STATE. A fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain. Maximize the use of the force and the tools we currently have and extract full value from things that currently exist. Close the gaps: C2, navigation, maneuver under attack, and tempo.
  4. RISK. Run deliberately, not recklessly. You will be governed by the principle of calculated training risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of death, serious injury, and Class A damage to attain higher readiness, integration, and agility. If the Tactic, Technique, and Procedure you are developing increases AMC’s ability to fight and win inside the first island chain… move out. If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.
  5. OT&E. Attached are our OT&E efforts from 2022 Fall PHOENIX Rally, which will guide our preparation but are not intended to limit creativity of approach. This is not an all-encompassing list. I expect you to move out briskly on the monthly tasks, anticipate the projected tasks and weave them eloquently into your units’ training and operational battle rhythms.
    (a) All AMC aligned personnel with weapons qualifications will fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.
    (b) All AMC personnel will update vRED [virtual Record of Emergency Data].
    (c) All commanders will acknowledge this order directly to me immediately. Then, report all 2022 accomplishments preparing for the China fight, and forecast major efforts in 2023 through command chains by COB 28 February 2023.
  7. MARCH (Projected).
    (a) All units will report progress toward established OT&E requirements for INDOPACOM Operations discussed and reviewed at Fall PHOENIX Rally.
    (b) All AMC personnel will consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.
    (c) KC-135 units will coordinate to provide a conceptual means of air delivering 100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.
  8. APRIL (Projected).
    (a) All units will report their integration and operation plans for MOBILITY GUARDIAN 2023 to include all events (lead-in and concurrent) they wish to include for credit.
  9. ADMIN. AMC/A3 [Operations] will formalize these orders in FRAGO [Fragmentary Order] format. Completion, progress, reporting, reporting format, and advancement be measured, driven, and collected by our AMC/A3 Team through ARC [Air Reserve Command], NAF [Numbered Air Force] and EC [Expeditionary Center] leadership.

General, USAF