U.S. Military Gaps in Funding and Personnel Need Addressing to Deter Global Aggression

For Release

May 7, 2019

A significant gap exists between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities required to implement those policies successfully, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

The researchers recommend that to meet the challenges outlined in the National Defense Strategy, the Department of Defense would need to increase the readiness of U.S. forces to the stated service goals or beyond with 10 armored brigades, 45 U.S. Air Force and 35 U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps fighter squadrons, and supporting land, air and sea forces ready at all times.

“Modernizing its nuclear deterrent over the next several decades is likely to consume most of the recent increases in the U.S. defense budget,” said Timothy Bonds, lead author on the report and a senior fellow at RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization.  “The question, then, is how the United States should utilize the resources remaining to ensure that aggression that imperils U.S. interests in critical regions would fail while helping allies build the capacity to do more for their own and the collective defense.”

The report recommends prioritizing investments by their importance to the United States and its interests, the size and urgency of the gap between the capabilities required to achieve defense objectives and the current posture, readiness, and capabilities of U.S. forces, and the availability of realistic opportunities for the United States to close these gaps.

“In the event of a major war—such as a Russian attack on the Baltics, a resumption of full-scale warfighting on the Korean Peninsula, or a U.S. decision to come to Taiwan's defense against China—posture and readiness will be the decisive factors,” Bonds said. “In addition to improving the posture and readiness of its regular forces, the DoD should improve the mobilization infrastructure to speed the activation of Guard and Reserve forces and the training capabilities needed to make all forces in the deployment pipeline ready.”

Other authors of “America's Strategy-Resource Mismatch: Addressing the Gaps Between U.S. National Strategy and Military Capacity,” are James Dobbins, Michael Mazarr, Michael J. Lostumbo, Michael Johnson, David A. Shlapak, Jeffrey Martini, Scott Boston, Cristina L. Garafola, John Gordon IV, Sonni Efron, Paul S. Steinberg, Yvonne K. Crane and Daniel M. Norton.

This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies and the defense Intelligence Community.

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