Conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation issued a damning report Tuesday saying the US military is underfunded, has “poorly defined” priorities, and would struggle to cope with more than one regional conflict. This becomes all the more concerning because tensions have grown with both China and Russia recently; meanwhile, the Ukraine war drags on as we continue to provide vast sums in military aid.
For the first time, Heritage's "Index of U.S. Military Strength" finds that the U.S. military is rated “weak” ⚠️
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) October 18, 2022
The Wall Street Journal describes the purpose of the index: “The index measures the military’s ability to prevail in two major regional conflicts at once–say, a conflict in the Middle East and a fight on the Korean peninsula.” The annual report, called the “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” found:
“As currently postured, the U.S. military is at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests. It is rated as weak relative to the force needed to defend national interests on a global stage against actual challenges in the world as it is rather than as we wish it were. This is the logical consequence of years of sustained use, underfunding, poorly defined priorities, wildly shifting security policies, exceedingly poor discipline in program execution, and a profound lack of seriousness across the national security establishment even as threats to U.S. interests have surged.”
“In the aggregate, the United States’ military posture can only be rated as ‘weak,'” the report conluded. Only the Marine Corps came out unscathed, receiving a “strong” rating. The Army received a “marginal” rating, the Space Force and Navy were dubbed “weak,” while the Air Force earned the dubious label “very weak.”
We’ve reported on the services’ difficulty in recruitment and retention, at least partly due to woke policies. Not surprisingly, the ugly rise in inflation under President Joe Biden is also contributing to the woes:
“At present, the [Biden] administration’s proposed defense budget for [fiscal year] 2023 falls far short of what the services need to regain readiness and to replace aged equipment,” the report said, “and Congress’s intention to increase the proposed budget by 5 percent accounts for barely half of the current rate of inflation, which is nearing 10 percent.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a member of the House Armed Services Committee member, told reporters on Tuesday:
“The particular problem with that is if you look at our priority theater, the Indo-Pacific, the two priority services are the Navy and the Air Force – and those seem to be the ones that are doing the worst.”
“I fear as you look at the geopolitical environment, we are going to find ourselves in a competition with China or Taiwan within the next few years if we continue down this path of naive disarmament.”
Rep. Gallagher: “Deterrence failed in Ukraine…the Biden Administration largely relied on the threat of sanctions and sternly-worded statements to deter Putin, and deterrence disintegrated, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.” pic.twitter.com/Qla1Bzt9iR
— Rep. Gallagher Press Office (@RepGallagher) October 18, 2022
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board reacted to the report, writing that in order to project power, you must invest in your forces:
“Some will call all this alarmist and ask why the Pentagon can’t do better on an $800 billion budget. The latter is a fair question and the answer requires procurement and other changes. But the U.S. will also have to spend more on defense if it wants to protect its interests and the homeland. The U.S. is spending about 3% of GDP now compared to 5%-6% in the 1980s. The Heritage report is a warning that you can’t deter war, much less win one, on the cheap.”
Democrats will likely decry the report, arguing that it’s from a conservative think tank so should be ignored. However, Heritage’s conclusions are sobering–and more than a little scary.