The United States military for 2022, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, was issued this past week a rating lower than any recorded previously as part of a recently unveiled exhaustive analysis carried out by officials with the Heritage Foundation.
The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength tested a wide variety of areas, including the threats to the U.S., U.S. Alliances, the condition of the U.S. military, and much more.
The Editorial Board for the Wall Street Journal explained that the “weal” rating of the U.S. military from the assessment was the first time it has ever gotten such a result in the almost decade the tests have been carried out.
The assessment discovered that the global operating environment from the perspective of the U.S. was on average favorable across the board, threats to the U.S. are increasing quickly, with a large number of nations being marked as a “high” threat against the interests of the United States. The chief problems stemmed from Russia and China but a few others such as Iran, North Korea, and many others trailed behind.
When considering the section of the test which focused on the power of the U.S. military, the tests checked out readiness, capability, and capacity.
The assessment also included the nuclear capability of the United States as a unique and separate branch inside of the U.S. military because “of its truly unique characteristics and constituent elements, from the weapons themselves to the supporting infrastructure that is fundamentally different from the infrastructure that supports conventional capabilities.”
The assessment highlighted that the U.S> military has been going downhill due to “underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity in spite of repeated efforts by Congress to provide relief from low budget ceilings imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.”
The rapidly climbing rates of inflation that were caused by Biden’s choices have led to higher expenses throughout the military, which erased progress made at the end of the Trump administration in increasing U.S. military readiness.
The scores assigned to the various branches included “very weak,” “weak,” “marginal,” “strong,” and “very strong.”
The assessments went as follows:
U.S. Navy — “Weak”
- “This worrisome score, a drop from ‘marginal’ assessed in the 2022 Index, is driven by problems in capacity (‘very weak’) and readiness (‘weak’). This Index assesses that the Navy needs a battle force of 400 manned ships to do what is expected of it today. The Navy’s current battle force fleet of 298 ships and intensified operational tempo combine to reveal a service that is much too small relative to its tasks.”
U.S. Army — “Marginal”
- “The Army is aging faster than it is modernizing. It remains ‘weak’ in capacity with only 62 percent of the force it should have. However, 25 of its 31 Regular Army BCTs are at the highest state of readiness, thus earning a readiness score of ‘very strong’ and conveying the sense that the service knows what it needs to do to prepare for the next major conflict.”
U.S. Marine Corps — “Strong”
- “The score for the Marine Corps was raised to ‘strong’ from ‘marginal’ in the 2022 Index and remains ‘strong’ in this edition for two reasons: (1) because the 2021 Index changed the threshold for capacity, lowering it from 36 infantry battalions to 30 battalions in acknowledgment of the Corps’ argument that it is a one-war force that also stands ready for a broad range of smaller crisis-response tasks, and (2) because of the Corps’ extraordinary, sustained efforts to modernize (which improves capability) and enhance its readiness during the assessed year. Of the five services, the Corps is the only one that has a compelling story for change, has a credible and practical plan for change, and is effectively implementing its plan to change.”
U.S. Air Force — “Very Weak”
- “The Air Force has been downgraded once again, the second time in the past two years. The Air Force was assessed as ‘marginal’ in the 2021 Index but, with public reporting of the mission readiness and physical location of combat aircraft implying that it would have a difficult time responding rapidly to a crisis, fell to a score of ‘weak’ in the 2022 Index. During FY 2022, the year assessed for this Index, problems with pilot production and retention, an extraordinarily small amount of time in the cockpit for pilots, and a fleet of aircraft that continues to age compounded challenges even more, leading to the current score of ‘very weak.’”
U.S. Space Force — “Weak”
- “The mission sets, space assets, and personnel that have transitioned to the Space Force from the other services since its establishment in December 2019 and that have been added over the past two years have enabled the service to sustain its support to the Joint Force. However, there is little evidence that the USSF has improved its readiness to provide nearly real-time support to operational and tactical levels of force operations or that it is ready in any way to execute defensive and offensive counterspace operations to the degree envisioned by Congress when it authorized the creation of the Space Force.”
U.S. Nuclear Capabilities — “Strong”
- “The scoring for U.S. nuclear weapons must be considered in the context of a threat environment that is significantly more dangerous than it was in previous years. Until recently, U.S. nuclear forces needed to address one nuclear peer rather than two. Given senior leaders’ reassurances with respect to the readiness and reliability of U.S. nuclear forces, as well as the strong bipartisan commitment to modernization of the entire nuclear enterprise, this year’s Index retains its grade of ‘strong,’ but only for now. U.S. nuclear forces face many risks that, without a continued commitment to a strong deterrent, could warrant a decline to an overall score of ‘marginal’ or ‘weak.’”
“As currently postured, the U.S. military is at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests. It is rated as weak relative to the force needed to defend national interests on a global stage against actual challenges in the world as it is rather than as we wish it were,” concluded the analysis. “This is the logical consequence of years of sustained use, underfunding, poorly defined priorities, wildly shifting security policies, exceedingly poor discipline in program execution, and a profound lack of seriousness across the national security establishment even as threats to U.S. interests have surged.”