SINGAPORE: The US Pacific Fleet commander said on Thursday (Jul 27) he would launch a nuclear strike against China if President Donald Trump ordered it, according to a report by Associated Press (AP).
Admiral Scott Swift was responding to a hypothetical question at an Australian National University security conference following a major joint US-Australian military exercise off the Australian coast.
When asked by an academic in the audience whether he would make a nuclear attack on China next week if Trump ordered it, Swift reportedly said: "The answer would be yes."
He then warned against the US military shifting its allegiance from its commander in chief.
"So, every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as the commander in chief appointed over us. So, this is, this is core to the American democracy and any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus and an allegiance to civilian control, then we really have a significant problems," he added.
AP also quoted Pacific Fleet spokesman Captain Charlie Brown saying that Swift's answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military.
"The admiral was not addressing the premise of the question, he was addressing the principle of civilian authority of the military," Brown reportedly said. "The premise of the question was ridiculous."
The biennial Talisman Saber exercise involved 36 warships including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, 220 aircraft and 33,000 military personnel.