October 30, 2015 | Commentary on American Leadership, Armed Forces, Political Thought

Wake Up, America—Your Military Is Marginal

The Heritage Foundation released its annual assessment on the state of the armed forces. The rating delivered by the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength is “marginal.” That might not be a bad grade for kindergarten kids to bring home. They have a couple of years before they have to apply to Harvard. But, that’s not much to show for a commander-in-chief after seven years of stewardship over America’s military.

Reacting to the report, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, bemoaned that “crippling America’s military readiness and capability at a time when we face a complex array of challenges not seen since the end of World War II.”

“In aggregate,” the Heritage report found, “the United States’ military posture is rated as ‘marginal’ and is trending toward ‘weak.’” Unlike other indexes which just add up what the U.S. military has, this assessment also measures the state of threats to our vital interests and the conditions under which the military might operate to determine whether the capabilities of the armed forces are sufficient.

There are critics of the Defense Department who think “the Pentagon doesn’t need more money.”

While there is plenty to debate over how the Pentagon spends our tax dollars and a case to made for serious reforms, the index make clear that the mismatch between capabilities and missions is a much bigger problem than just balancing the check book.

Since the commander-in-chief has the preponderance of responsibility for providing for the common defense, the nation is going to need a serious presidential team with a serious plan to set things right.


-James Jay Carafano is vice president of defense and foreign policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. He is the author of Wiki at War: Conflict in a Socially Networked World. Follow him on Twitter at @JJCarafano.

About the Author

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

This article originally appeared in PJ Media.