None of America’s four military services rates higher than “marginal,” according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Military of Strength, published Nov. 16. Sequestration funding cuts have reduced defense spending by approximately $78 billion in real dollars since 2011, leaving each branch ill-equipped, the report said.

The Army scored lowest among the other branches rated by the index, which also included the country’s nuclear weapons capability, the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. The report scored each branch based on capacity, capability, and readiness to produce an overall rating.

“A weakened America arguably emboldens challenges to its interests and loses potential allies, while a militarily strong America deters opportunism and draws partners to its side from across the globe,” the editors of the report wrote. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, described the report as an important reminder of the need to end the sequestration cuts.

“As the report warns, our military has been degraded by years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the adverse effects of budget sequestration,” he said. “The result is that our military confronts growing capacity, capability, and readiness challenges that put America’s national security at greater risk.”

More SOF growth needed, previous report said

 In the 2015 index, the Heritage Foundation noted that despite the growth of special operations forces since 2001, their increasing responsibilities within the military mean more are needed.

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The need is particularly acute because of continuing cutbacks to the conventional military, the 2015 report said. Special operations forces depend primarily on the conventional military for combat support.

“While reducing the number of conventional ground forces overall…is current U.S. policy, such cuts do not make for sound defense policy and, in fact, harm the ability of SOF to do their job,” the report said.

Featured image courtesy of Sensible Reason.