The military itself, as well as many think-tank scholars, tends to focus on one or more of four major dimensions of military capacity.

One is force structure, or the raw numbers of tanks, ships, divisions and so on that make up our armed forces. The second is modernization, or the level of technical sophistication. The third is sustainability, or the ability to maintain operations once underway. The last is combat readiness.

Such measures gauge the current military capability of the United States relative to what our military says it needs to be fully operational. Based on these criteria, the conservative Heritage Foundation ranks the overall U.S. military capability as “marginal, [as] a consequence of the cumulative effect of many years of simultaneous underinvestment and extensive operations.”

Readiness measures such as this one can help the military and Congress set budget priorities. But they don’t tell us anything about whether we are falling behind other countries.

Read more at the Washington Post

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