According to three military experts, two of whom are retired U.S. Army colonels, our nation’s military is not the superpower it used to be.
“We’re getting weaker by choice, not by circumstance,” said Baker Spring, a research fellow in National Security Policy at the Heritage Foundation.
The focus of the Heritage Foundation presentation, titled, “The Hollow Force,” was the future of the U.S. military.
Spring, joined by Colonel Kerry Kachejian and Colonel Richard Dunn, detailed the military’s “critical shortfalls.” The military’s equipment, according to the panelists, is outdated and heavily worn from ten years of war. The troops, furthermore, are insufficiently trained and equipped.
Col. Kachejian talked about leasing commercial vehicles in Iraq while he served during the insurgency. His unit purchased after-market add-on armor from online suppliers, and hung body armor over the sides of the SUVs. The added weight was too much for the vehicles’ brakes, which wore out quickly. Kachejian compared the scenario to a “Mad Max movie.”
The military personnel and equipment are stretched by current operations alone, and are always subject to unexpected missions. Col. Dunn likened the state of our modern military to that of the recovering military post-Vietnam. Dunn said we have a different kind of hollow force from what existed in the 70s when personnel—recruitment and retainment—were a problem. Today’s problem is one of preparedness, a matter of inadequate funding, obsolete weapons and technology, and few highly-trained leaders.
Dunn likened the military to a three-legged stool, with personnel, equipment, and training/operations respectively representing each leg. In cutting the military budget, Dunn said it is necessary to retain balance so that one leg of the military does not suffer more than any other, in order for the U.S. to remain effective during budget uncertainty.
“Our defense department is not the source of our economic problems,” Spring said. Others noted the vast bureaucracy and inefficient nature of the military which drive up costs.