A panel of 12 former national security officials and experts entitled the National Strategy Defense Commission recently released the findings of their one year research into the military capabilities of the United States. The Executive Summary of the report begins in an ominous manner:
The security and wellbeing [sic] of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority—the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security—has eroded to a dangerous degree. Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt.
“If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting,” the Executive Summary continues. “Today, changes at home and abroad are diminishing U.S. military advantages and threatening vital U.S. interests. Authoritarian competitors—especially China and Russia—are seeking regional hegemony and the means to project power globally. They are pursuing determined military buildups aimed at neutralizing U.S. strengths. Threats posed by Iran and North Korea have worsened as those countries have developed more advanced weapons and creatively employed asymmetric tactics,” the authors add.
The authors continue with distressing analysis, “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” furthering their point “Additionally, it would be unwise and irresponsible not to expect adversaries to attempt debilitating kinetic, cyber, or other types of attacks against Americans at home while they seek to defeat our military abroad. U.S. military superiority is no longer assured and the implications for American interests and American security are severe.”
Who Is On The Commission
Paul Hughes who served for over thirty years in the military serves as the Executive Director of the commission and the Interim Vice President of the Applied Conflict Transformation Center. Senior Advisor Thomas Bowditch is an expert in Asia-Pacific maritime strategy; global force posture; Marine Corps headquarters staff architecture; national level grand strategy; unconventional warfare theory; sea power and sea control theory; concepts of deterrence, according to his Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG) profile.
Others on the commission are Raphael Cohen, Matthew Costlow, Mackenzie Eaglen, Giselle Donnelly, Mara Karlin, and Mark Lewis.
United States Military Spending
The Balance breaks down current projections on United States military spending:
Estimated U.S. military spending is $892 billion. That’s from the spending bill signed by President Trump on August 13, 2018. It covers the period October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. Military spending is the second largest item in the federal budget after Social Security. The United States spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined.
If the reports are accurate and the United States is in danger of losing a military conflict; inefficient spending, the executive branch not taking cybersecurity seriously, and the influence of high priced weapons contractors would play a significant role. Luckily, a conventional military conflict with either China or Russia is extremely unlikely in modern geopolitical conditions, and neither conflict would be fought without the aid of U.S. allies.