The US military has become “weaker” and reliant on defense contractors, the Heritage Foundation says, calling for more military spending.
The conservative think tank, which is based in Washington, DC, published its annual report on the US military’s strength on Wednesday, concluding that America’s military power was only “marginal” and trending toward “weak.”
Dubbed the 2017 Index of US Military Power, the report’s findings were based on the military’s “capability or modernity, capacity for operations, and readiness to handle assigned missions successfully.”
According to the report, plans to downsize the US Army and postpone its equipment upgrades in order to improve readiness have fallen flat and only a third of the force’s units are prepared for battle.
“Even for units deployed abroad, the Army has had to increase its reliance on contracted support to meet maintenance requirements,” Heritage stated. “In summary, the Army is smaller, older, and weaker, a condition that is unlikely to change in the near future.”
Overall, the US Army did not have the capacity and the readiness required for defending the US homeland and successfully concluding a major war, according to the study.
In Heritage’s view, other branches of the US military were not doing much better and their power was only rated as “marginal.”
The US Navy, for example, was “sacrificing long-term readiness to meet current operational demands,” the report said, giving the service a weak score in terms of capability.
The US Air Force was also seen as a marginally strong force that was short of at least 700 pilots and 4,000 maintenance personnel.
The Marine Corps also received a marginal rating as it was struggling with low funding, the report added. Many of the fighter jets and helicopters assigned to the service were not operational most of the time.
In terms of nuclear capability, the US was faced with problems in “Modernization, testing, and investment in intellectual and talent underpinnings.”
Heritage said its findings underscored the need for an overall increase in military funding despite the Pentagon’s massive $583 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2017.
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