WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Conventional war with a large nation-state competitor is the riskiest scenario the United States would have to contend with, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said at a Defense One conference in Washington, DC.
“At the Department of Defense, the most horrendous thing we could possibly do is have conventional armed conflict against a great power or a big state,” Work stated on Monday.
He added that such a scenario “ranks in the highest risk,” and would have “the most impact on the global system.”
“Now we have to worry about a potential contingency with Russia,” he added.
Work characterized both Russia and China as “great powers,” because both have a nuclear arsenal that can survive a first strike, and both are able to take on the United States in conventional warfare.
In order to deter state actors, and great powers like Russia or China, the Pentagon is focused on ensuring “rock solid” conventional deterrence, and routine demonstrations of military capabilities.
In 2014, US-Russian relations quickly deteriorated following Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Washington responded by increasing military exercises with NATO.
Russian officials have repeatedly warned that NATO’s military demonstrations near Russia’s borders are provocative and threatens regional security.