Assessing the Global Operating Environment
Assessing the Global Operating Environment
Europe, Asia, Middle EastDownload Index/Download Assessment
Measuring the “strength” of a military force—the extent to which that force can accomplish missions—requires examination of the environments in which the force operates.
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About Assessing the Global Operating Environment
Measuring the “strength” of a military force—the extent to which that force can accomplish missions—requires examination of the environments in which the force operates. Aspects of one environment may facilitate military operations, but aspects of another may work against them. A favorable operating environment presents the U.S. military with obvious advantages; an unfavorable operating environment may limit the effect of U.S. military power. The capabilities and assets of U.S. allies, the strength of foes, the geopolitical environment of the region, and the availability of forward facilities and logistics infrastructure all factor into whether an operating environment is one that can support U.S. military operations.
When assessing an operating environment, one must pay particular attention to any treaty obligations the United States has with countries in the region. A treaty defense obligation ensures that the legal framework is in place for the U.S. to maintain and operate a military presence in a particular country. In addition, a treaty partner usually yields regular training exercises and interoperability as well as political and economic ties.
Additional factors—including the military capabilities of allies that might be useful to U.S. military operations; the degree to which the U.S. and allied militaries in the region are interoperable and can use, for example, common means of command, communication, and other systems; and whether the U.S. maintains key bilateral alliances with nations in the region—also affect the operating environment. Likewise, nations where the U.S. has already stationed assets or permanent bases and countries from which the U.S. has launched military operations in the past may provide needed support to future U.S. military operations. The relationships and knowledge gained through any of these factors would undoubtedly ease future U.S. military operations in a region and contribute greatly to a positive operating environment.
In addition to U.S. defense relations within a region, additional criteria—including the quality of the local infrastructure, the political stability of the area, whether or not a country is embroiled in any conflicts, and the degree to which a nation is economically free—should also be considered.
Each of these factors contributes to an informed judgment as to whether a particular operating environment is favorable or unfavorable to future U.S. military operations. The operating environment assessment is meant to add critical context to complement the threat environment and U.S. military assessments that are detailed in subsequent sections of the Index.
Assessing Threats to U.S. Vital Interests
Europe, Asia, Middle East
An Assessment of U.S. Military Power
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense
Manpower, Training, Modernization, Installations, Logistics
Glossary of AbbreviationsLearn More
A guide to understanding the abbreviations used throughout the 2019 Index.
The assessment portion of the Index of U.S. Military Strength is composed of three major sections that address America’s military power, the operating environments within or through which that power must operate, and threats to U.S. vital national interests.
This Index measures the capability of the U.S. military based on the current state of its combat equipment. Four factors are key to this assessment. This appendix presents each of the services’ principal combat platforms and corresponding modernization programs, scoring them in each of the four factors.
View the graphics used throughout the 2019 Index.
Download the 2019 IndexView the PDFs
In addition to the website, The 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength is also available in a print friendly PDF format.
Previous Indexes & EssaysView the Indexes & Essays
View and download the indexes and topical essays from previous years.
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