The Heritage Foundation

Factsheet #133

December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013 | Factsheet on

Obama Administration Undermining Military Readiness

Obama Administration Undermining Military Readiness

President Obama has neglected America’s armed forces, underestimated the forces needed to defend us, and failed to implement any serious reform agenda. Rather than looking for ways to deliver more bang for the buck, the White House has done little more than make ill-advised cuts and call them “efficiencies.” The results are becoming glaringly apparent with declining readiness and diminishing capabilities.


  • Only two fully trained Brigade Combat Teams are available to respond to a crisis or reinforce our troops who are in harm’s way in places like Korea and Afghanistan.
  • Time required to get forces ready to respond is growing. Eight hundred vehicles, 2,000 weapons, and 32 helicopters in need of repair are unavailable due to maintenance cuts.
  • Only 200 soldiers made available for a major NATO exercise, a contribution equal to Estonia’s.
  • Cancelled seven major combat training rotations; therefore unable to certify readiness of seven brigades.


  • Cancelled multiple planned deployments, undermining training and readiness.
  • No combats ships available in Latin America, hamstringing U.S. drug-interdiction efforts.
  • No strike group trained and ready to respond on short notice in case of a contingency.
  • Two-thirds reduction in forces that were routinely available for crisis response.

Marine Corps:

  • To protect readiness for rapid deployment, spending roughly 16 percent of the required “bare minimum” to maintain barracks, facilities, and training ranges.
  • Reallocating funds intended for developing and buying new equipment to sustain current readiness, which jeopardizes readiness for future missions.
  • Losing a division’s worth of combat power, which leaves no rotational relief for sustained operations.

Air Force:

  • Grounded 31 squadrons, including 13 combat squadrons, undermining ability to respond to more than one crisis at a time and lengthening time to respond to any major crisis.
  • Seven squadrons’ flying rates reduced to levels that only enable proficiency in basic tasks like takeoff and landing, leaving units unfit for combat operational missions.

To get us out of this mess, Congress needs to fight for solutions that will fix defense without raising taxes or ballooning federal spending further. What they can’t do is ignore the problem of downward readiness trends and declining capabilities.

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