In an intriguing Op-Ed for Fox News, former Marine Dakota Wood says that the US’ military power is decreasing across the board while our enemies are getting stronger.
Wood was a 20-year member of the Marine Corps and is a The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow for defense programs and editor of the think tank’s 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength. And he says the state of our military forces has been steadily eroding since 2011.
Since 2012, the Army has shrunk from 45 combat brigades to only 31. In February, Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, , informed the House Armed Services Committee that only a third of those brigades are considered combat ready and only three, count ‘em, three, would be able to deploy immediately to a combat zone.
The Marine Corps is shrunken, too. Its end-strength now stands at about 184.400—down from 202,000 five years ago. Training and equipment are woefully sub-par, as well.
Inadequate funding has hit Marine aviation units especially hard. Maintenance crews have to cannibalize some planes to keep others flying. Last December, only two out of every five Marine aircraft were even flyable. Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters warns that today’s Corps “is insufficiently manned, trained and equipped across the depth of the force to operate in an ever-evolving operational environment.”
Things aren’t much better for our air and sea forces. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Military Strength assesses the Air Force as being 24 percent short of the 1,200 fighter jets it needs. As for keeping the aging aircraft it does have flying… it lacks 1,000 pilots and over 3,000 flight maintenance crew members. Only four of its 36 combat-coded squadrons are ready to execute all wartime missions.
And the Navy isn’t in much better shape with only 276 ships in the fleet, that is the smallest the Navy has been since the days prior to World War I. And while our military is being cut down, our adversaries are building theirs up. China has rapidly expanded its forces and now has a blue water navy capable of projecting power anywhere in the globe and opened its first overseas base in Djibouti.
The Russians have also beefed up their military in recent years and continue to prop up the dictator Assad in Syria while occupying the Ukraine. They also continue to tweak the US by buzzing American ships and overflying American cities, including Washington.
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