Heritage Foundation: US Military Rated as 'Weak' for First Time Soldiers salute (Dreamstime)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 18 October 2022 12:42 PM EDT
U.S. military strength has hit a decade low, with The Heritage Foundation 2023 review considering the U.S. military "weak" for the first time in the history of its annual report and "at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America's vital national interests."
Military readiness and strength has been a coming warning from former President Donald Trump aimed at his successor, President Joe Biden.
"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," according to The Heritage Foundation review. "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."
The review measures the country's ability to win two major military conflicts at once in different areas of the world, but concluded the current status is risking being unable to "meet the demands of a single major regional conflict" and is "ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous" military conflicts, according to the report.
"No matter how much America desires that the world be a simpler, less threatening place that is more inclined to beneficial economic interactions than violence-laden friction, the patterns of history show that competing powers consistently emerge and that the U.S. must be able to defend its interests in more than one region at a time," according to The Heritage Foundation.
The Marines scored a "strong" rating, up from "marginal" in 2021, in its individual review, while the Air Force fell to the bottom of the list as "very weak" due to struggles recruiting and retaining pilots, leaving "little doubt that it would struggle in war with a peer competitor," according to the report.
"Of the five services, the Corps is the only one that has a compelling story for change, has a credible and practical plan for change, and is effectively implementing its plan to change," the report read. "However, in the absence of additional funding that would enable the Corps to maintain higher end strength while also pursuing its modernization and reorientation efforts, the Corps will reduce the number of its battalions even further to just 21, and this reduction will limit the extent to which it can conduct distributed operations as envisioned and replace combat losses (thus limiting its ability to sustain operations)."
The Army scored "marginal," while the Navy and Space Force were below that at "weak," as well.
Amid nuclear threats from Russia, if not North Korea and potentially Iran, the U.S. nuclear arsenal scored a "strong" rating with caveats it might be trending toward "marginal," if not "weak" in the future.
"The scoring for U.S. nuclear weapons must be considered in the context of a threat environment that is significantly more dangerous than it was in previous years," according to the report. "Until recently, U.S. nuclear forces needed to address one nuclear peer rather than two.
"Given senior leaders' reassurances with respect to the readiness and reliability of U.S. nuclear forces, as well as the strong bipartisan commitment to modernization of the entire nuclear enterprise, this year's Index retains its grade of 'strong,' but only for now.
"U.S. nuclear forces face many risks that, without a continued commitment to a strong deterrent, could warrant a decline to an overall score of 'marginal' or 'weak.'
"The reliability of current U.S. delivery systems and warheads is at risk as they continue to age and the threat continues to advance."