According to a new report filed by a bipartisan panel of Congressionally appointed national security experts, the United States military may not be able to withstand a prolonged engagement with a near-peer opponent like China or Russia, despite the influx of defense spending delivered under President Trump.
If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat,” the new report from the National Defense Strategy Commission reads. “These two nations possess precision strike capabilities, integrated air defenses, cruise and ballistic missiles, advanced cyberwarfare and anti-satellite capabilities, significant air and naval forces, and nuclear weapons — a suite of advanced capabilities heretofore possessed only by the United States.”
This conclusion may come as a surprise to many, seeing as America possesses the largest and most well-funded military force in the world, but the problem America’s defense apparatus faces isn’t about troop counts, it’s about the allocation of resources. For the better part of two decades, the U.S. has devoted the majority of its defense spending to the (still ongoing) Global War On Terror. That emphasis, combined with inconsistent and often anemic funding through the past ten years, has left the military in what could be described as a “readiness crisis” — with maintenance and training both left underfunded in favor of the battle of today.
That alone is cause for concern, but these issues are exacerbated by two decades worth of national level opponents getting to watch the American military in action. Russia and China, both aware that they couldn’t field a conventional force of equivalent breadth and strength to the mighty U.S., instead chose to look for strategic ways to counter American advantages, all while developing some of their own. In short, despite the U.S.’ significant investments into the F-35 and technologically advanced warships in recent years, the force remains very much as it was when the War on Terror began in 2001. The same cannot be said for China or Russia’s militaries.