During Joe Biden’s presidency, the U.S. military has been actively deployed worldwide to protect American and allied interests. However, it is currently facing critical challenges including recruitment shortages and increased involvement in volatile regions.
A recent analysis by the Heritage Foundation’s 2024 Index of U.S. Military Strength suggests that the country has reached a dangerous point where its military may not be able to adequately defend the nation.
According to Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, editor and retired Marine Corps officer, he rates the current state of the American military as “weak.”
In 2023, conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, along with escalating tensions in the Middle East, revealed significant weaknesses in the U.S.’s ammunition and weapon stockpiles, as well as its ability to effectively respond to multiple crises simultaneously at the president’s request.
“As currently postured, the U.S. military is at significant risk of not being able to defend America’s vital national interests,” the introduction to the index reads. The U.S. military received a ‘weak’ rating for the second year in a row ‘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,’” the report said.
In general, the armed forces and the nation’s nuclear and missile defense systems are facing challenges concerning outdated equipment, deficiencies, and a lack of preparedness.
Wood, a senior research fellow for defense programs at Heritage, highlighted these concerns during a briefing before presenting the report to Washington DC. Heritage has identified various factors that contribute to the weakening of U.S. military power.
These factors include extended deployments that exceed initial plans, insufficient funding, shortcomings in developing and acquiring weapon systems, as well as frequent changes in priorities and policies within the Pentagon.
“When we say that the U.S. military is weak, it’s not an indictment of the individuals,” the men and women in service, Wood clarified. “If you had to go up against Russia or China or Iran or some other actor in the world, you’re just not going to have a sufficient amount of military power to go out.”
“If we now get super real, this is not just about recognizing the threat,” Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, noted at a Heritage panel Wednesday. “We have to reevaluate like a business that’s about to go bankrupt.”
The Daily Caller added:
Heritage rated the Army as “marginal,” the Navy as “weak” and the Air Force as “very weak.” Only the Marine Corps came out as strong, thanks to its monumental modernization efforts focused on a worst-case-scenario fight with China, according to Wood, but it remains too small to accomplish the missions the Pentagon tasked it with in the previous year.
The Air Force fared worst of all, receiving a “very weak” rating. Besotted with a pilot shortage, it operates just 75% of the ready fighter aircraft needed to devote to two major conflicts at once, according to the report. Pilots also aren’t getting enough hours in the cockpit — less than 130 each year on average, which in the Cold War era would have rendered them combat ineffective, Wood told the DCNF.
“There is not a fighter squadron in the Air Force that holds the readiness levels, competence, and confidence levels that are required to square off against a peer competitor,” the report said.