U.S. military could lose next war, report says

A study from the Rand Corp. warns that the U.S. military forces are poorly structured and argues that the military must reform its structure and strategies to better deal with challenges. (Associated Press) Photo by: Andreea Alexandru


A new study by the Rand Corp. is warning that U.S. military forces are poorly structured to meet the threats posed by China, Russia and other states, as well as the continuing war against Islamic terrorism.

The study, “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” presents the stark conclusion that the American military needs to reform its structure and war fighting plans to better deal with military challenges.

Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China on military forces by a ratio of 2.7 to 1 and Russia by 6 to 1,” the report said. “The nation needs to do better than this.”

U.S. forces currently are larger than needed to fight a single major war and have failed to keep pace with military advances by major powers, while “poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia, and insufficiently trained and ready to get the most operational utility from many of its active component units,” the report added.

The conclusions were echoed somewhat by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a speech last month.

The chairman warned that American military advantages over China and Russia are eroding and said more investments are needed.

The United States, today, still has the conventional advantage over states like China and Russia. “I also will tell you that in the last 10 or 15 years, that competitive advantage has eroded, and it’s no longer as decisive as it was some years ago,” he noted.

The Rand study recommended that instead of readying military forces to fight two regional wars in overlapping time frames, the military needs to shift the focus toward battling the five main adversaries today: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Islamic terrorist groups.

The scenarios call for a new force structure prepared to wage one major war against Russia or China; or forces ready to wage one major war and a regional conflict against North Korea or Iran. The third option is a force structure for two major wars, a buildup that requires larger numbers of combat brigades, fighter squadrons and warships.

Cost estimates for the three scenarios were gauged to be $538 billion annually for one major war force, $610 billion for the major war plus regional conflict force, and $628 billion for the two major war fighting force.

The report states that the current approach to force planning and resource allocation by the Pentagon has “placed too little emphasis on modernizing the capabilities, posture, and operating concepts of U.S. forces for power projection.”

“The result — a force that is insufficiently robust to face the challenges posed by the most-capable adversaries — poses growing risks to the viability of the United States’ most-important security relationships.”

Military reforms are needed to counter the growing power of America’s adversaries.

For example, to deal with China, the military needs to speed up development of faster, longer range air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, more stocks of regional based cruise missiles; more electronic warfare gear, more stealth drones and satellites hardened from attacks along with space weapons such as missiles and jammers.

Many of those same weapons are needed to defeat Russia in a conflict as well as deploying three heavy combat brigades in the Baltic States and one in Poland.

For North Korea, U.S. forces need improved intelligence to track nuclear arms and delivery systems, development of boost-phase missile defenses, and improved long-range missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland from attack.

To counter Iran, the report recommends improved mine countermeasures deployed in the region and greater close-in defenses for warships.

The Islamic terror threat requires U.S. military forces to improve its intelligence and analysis, purchase advanced vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, acquiring light reconnaissance and attack aircraft and deploying swarms of autonomous drones

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Full article: U.S. military could lose next war, report says (The Washington Times)

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