America’s Exhausted Military
In June, top U.S. military leaders warned Congress that years of combat combined with budget cuts and personnel reductions have left the Services stretched so thin that they may not be able to adequately respond to an unexpected crisis. The admissions take place amidst growing uncertainty about a constrained defense budget and increasing global instability.
Defense.gov has reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis is concerned that Even if Congress acts now to rid the Defense Department of looming sequestration spending cuts, it will take years of stable and higher budgets for DoD to dig out of the readiness hole… I have been shocked by what I have seen about our readiness to fight.”
According to Mattis, there are four external forces acting on the military. The first is the fact that the U.S. military has been at war for the last 16 years.
When Congress approved the all-volunteer force in 1973, our country never envisioned sending our military to war for more than a decade without pause or conscription…America’s long war has placed a heavy burden on men and women in uniform and their families.
A second force is the global situation. Russia is arming itself and looking for ways to challenge the international order. China is a rising power seeking to expand its sphere of influence. Iran is exporting instability throughout the Middle East, and North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
A third force is adversaries actively contesting America’s capabilities. According to Mattis, “every operating domain — outer space, air, sea, undersea, land and cyberspace — is contested.”
A fourth force, the pace of technological change, influences the capabilities needed for the future, necessitating new investments, innovation and new program starts.
For over a year, the heads of the armed services branches have warned of the lack of readiness due to overuse and budget cuts.
General John Paxton, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps:
If the Marines were called today to respond to an unexpected crisis, they might not be ready, a top Marine general told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday… I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now.
Army chief of staff General Mark Milley:
…My concern, going forward, is at the higher end in the event of a contingency, and if that were to happen, I have grave concerns in terms of the readiness of our Force—the Army forces—to be able to deal with that in a timely manner. And I think the cost, both in terms of time, casualties in troops, and the ability to accomplish military objectives would be very significant and we’ve all given our risk assessment associated with that in a classified session.
Special forces are among the most overworked. Special Forces chief General Raymond Thomas has called the level of overuse “unsustainable.”
Secretary of The Air Force Deborah James
…right now, we are stretched so thin, and we’re so small as an Air Force, and we’re so deployed, …I am very worried …if you go into a high-end conflict with a great power and you’re not sufficiently ready, history teaches me, you lose more lives and it’s a prolonged conflict. And it’s very worrisome.
The shrunken U.S. Navy faces a severe challenge. By 2020, China’s fleet will exceed the Navy’s numbers, which have plummeted from 600 vessels in 1990 to about 276 today. The Russians are rapidly enlarging and modernizing their submarine fleet. Iran and North Korea pose threats as well. Some of these nations are working together to challenge the U.S. On June 19, SpaceWar reported that,
A Chinese naval fleet is steaming towards the Baltic Sea to participate in joint exercises with Russia… Russia and China have taken turns hosting the exercises, dubbed “Joint Sea”, since 2012. This year’s iteration is set to take place in late July, Xinhua news agency said, and will include Chinese marines and ship-borne helicopters… Last year, the exercises took place in the contested South China Sea, where Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in waters claimed by its neighbours has drawn criticism from the US and other nations which say the project threatens freedom of navigation through the region.
Originally published on the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.
Trending on Affluent Investor
Sorry. No data so far.