A senior U.S. military official said Thursday that he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President Trump ordered it.

“The answer would be: yes,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, in response to a hypothetical question from an academic at an Australian National University security conference in Canberra.

He also warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from Trump, its commander in chief.

“Every member of the U.S. 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 commander and chief appointed over us,” Swift said.

“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 problem,” he added.

His remarks came after a joint U.S.- Australian military exercise off the Australian coast, and after Trump tweeted that the U.S. military wouldn’t allow transgender troops “in any capacity.” The tweet is an apparent rejection of about 6,000 trans troops and the Obama-era policy that embraced them.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown later said 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 said. “The premise of the question was ridiculous.”


The statements came amid tensions between the United States and China over…