[Defense in Brief] Shock study: U.S. military could lose the next war

A new study from the Rand Corp. is warning that U.S. military forces are poorly structured and unable to meet threats posed by Russia, China and other nations, in addition to the ongoing war against Islamic terrorism.

The study, titled, “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” starkly concludes that the U.S. military must reform the way it is structured as well as its warfighting plans in order to deal with upcoming military challenges.

“Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China on military forces by a ratio of 2.7 to 1 and Russia by 6 to 1,” the report said. “The nation needs to do better than this.”

Currently, U.S. forces are larger than necessary to fight a single major war. Also, forces have not kept pace with military advances by great powers, even while “poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia, and insufficiently trained and ready to get the most operational utility from many of its active component units,” the report said.

U.S. forces currently are larger than needed to fight a single major war and have failed to keep pace with military advances by major powers, while “poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia, and insufficiently trained and ready to get the most operational utility from many of its active component units,” the report added.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said pretty much the same thing in a speech last month, warning that U.S. military advantages over Russia and China are quickly eroding.

“The scenarios call for a new force structure prepared to wage one major war against Russia or China; or forces ready to wage one major war and a regional conflict against North Korea or Iran. The third option is a force structure for two major wars, a buildup that requires larger numbers of combat brigades, fighter squadrons and warships.” [source(Analyst comment: I’ve hit on this often — continuing resolutions over the past 8-9 years are killing military readiness. The service chiefs have been pleading with lawmakers until they’re blue in the face to pass real budgets that give them the ability to adequately plan spending priorities, which would include addressing many of the issues contained in this study. But no. Instead, the Pentagon has gotten one continuing resolution after another, and on top of that, Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011 that further caps military spending and investments. Congress continues to arrogantly dismiss reports like this and the pleadings of Pentagon chiefs at the country’s peril. 

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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