U.S. Army

An Assessment of U.S. Military Power

U.S. Army

Oct 18, 2022 Over an hour read

U.S. soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade and soldiers from the Kuwait Land Forces during a joint live-fire exercise, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Lefty Larimer

Thomas W. Spoehr

The U.S. Army is America’s primary agent for the conduct of land warfare. Although it is capable of all types of operations across the range of military operations and support to civil authorities, its chief value to the nation is its ability to defeat and destroy enemy land forces in battle.

The Army is engaged throughout the world in protecting and advancing U.S. interests. From May 2021 to April 2022, the Army provided 120,000 soldiers to the Joint Force in 140 different countries.1 Most notably it has deployed significant forces to NATO countries as a deterrent to further aggression by Russia. Since Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Army has deployed two Corps, two Division Headquarters, six Brigade Combat Teams, and two Combat Aviation Brigades to Europe.

On May 12, 2022, speaking of the deployments to Europe, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville testified that:

Never before has the U.S. Army moved so many forces so quickly. It took less than one week after receiving deployment orders for an armored brigade to deploy from Savannah, Georgia and be on the ground in Germany starting live-fire exercises with tanks drawn from [Army Prepositioned Stock] in Europe. That is a testament to years spent investing in our alliances and partnerships, and to maintaining strong relationships that enabled the Army [to enjoy] the access and presence needed to bolster NATO deterrence.2

The Army, like the other military services, finds itself under extraordinary operational and financial pressure. In some cases, advances in firepower like ballistic missiles, electronic warfare, and loitering munitions delivered by drones fielded by adversaries like China have outpaced the U.S. Army’s capabilities. Information-age warfare requires new levels of speed and precision in Army sensor-to-shooter chains. Autonomy is changing the character of warfare, and the Army has developed some bold ideas about how to take advantage of this technology.

In her initial message to the Army, Secretary Wormuth set out six objectives. The first, and arguably most important is to “put the Army on a sustainable strategic path amidst this uncertainty.” Wormuth acknowledged that the Army is “facing increased fiscal pressures” And while the objective of “a sustainable strategic path” is noble and well-founded, it is not at all clear how the Army will be able to find such a path given its significant year-over-year losses in buying power.3

When inflation is factored in, the Army has lost $46 billion in buying power since fiscal year (FY) 2019, and if we assume an inflation factor of 5 percent from 2022 to 2023 (which is likely conservative), the Administration’s $177.5 billion FY 2023 budget request for the Army represents a loss of more than $6 billion just from its FY 2022 enacted budget.4 Signs of budget strain are clearly visible in the Army’s proposal to cut its end strength; in modernization accounts slashed (with procurement cut by 7 percent and research and development down by 6 percent); and in military construction accounts that are now below historic levels.5

Enduring Relevance of Land Power. Arguments that America no longer needs a strong modern Army because, for example, China is largely a maritime threat ignore history. We need to look no further than today’s newspaper headlines about war in Europe between Russia and Ukraine to remember that capable land power is an enduring need for the United States.

America has a horrible record of predicting where it will fight its next war. As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates famously said:

When it comes to predicting the nature and location of our next military engagements, since Vietnam, our record has been perfect. We have never once gotten it right, from the Mayaguez to Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Balkans, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, and more—we had no idea a year before any of these missions that we would be so engaged.6

America should not be willing to gamble that the next conflict will be in the Indo-Pacific and put all our eggs in one basket and ignore the need for land power.

Many also overlook the fact that great-power competition with China and Russia is a global contest, which means that we face the enduring need to counter aggression wherever it may occur, not just within the territory or waters of China or Russia. All of this reinforces the reality that America has a long-term need for modernized, sufficiently sized land power.

Lingering Effects of the Pandemic. The Army has largely surmounted the direct challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but some others have been more persistent. Major collective training events had to be cancelled, and the virus upended Army recruiting efforts in FY 2021, but the Army eventually achieved its desired overall end strength, albeit by relying more on reenlistments than on recruiting.7 In 2022, combined with other structural factors, the reordering of the U.S. economy that was caused by the pandemic continues to frustrate recruiting efforts.

An Army Recruiting Crisis. The Army’s FY 2023 budget request reflects a reduction of 12,000 in end strength.8 The Army has endeavored to portray this cut as both temporary and driven by a desire to maintain a quality force. In reality, the Army and, to a degree, the other military services are facing a recruiting crisis the likes of which they have not experienced since the transition to the All-Volunteer Force in 1973.9 Since 2018, the Army has been missing its recruiting goals and making up the difference with strong numbers of reenlistments. Now facing extraordinary financial pressure and in order to save money, it has been forced to face reality and cut spaces for servicemembers that it does not anticipate being able to recruit.

The reasons for the recruiting crisis are many.

  • The percentage of Americans that qualify for military service without a waiver has dropped from 29 percent in 2016 to 23 percent in 2022.
  • The predominant factor in disqualification is obesity.
  • Low unemployment makes recruiting difficult, and as this book was being prepared, the U.S. unemployment rate “was 3.6 percent for the third month in a row.”10
  • A requirement for volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is disqualifying some applicants.
  • Finally, for a variety of reasons that are beyond the scope of this study, fewer Americans express a desire to serve in the armed forces.11

The results of this recruiting crisis include lower manning in Army formations, critical shortages in certain career fields, and lower overall readiness. If the crisis is not ameliorated, its longer-term implications are even more consequential.

A Capable Force Showing Strain of Chronic Underfunding. The U.S. Army is currently the world’s most powerful army, but it is also too small and insufficiently modern to meet even the modest requirements of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS),12 much less to handle two major regional contingencies simultaneously, which many experts believe is essential.13

Even though the conflict in Iraq has largely ended and the military has withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Army’s single-minded focus on counterinsurgency during the period from 2001 to 2016 precluded the service from modernizing the key combat capabilities that it needs now for near-peer competition. In 2011, for example, the Army cancelled its only mid-tier air defense program, the Surface Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM), based on its assessment that it would not face a threat from the air in the foreseeable future.14 The Army’s last major modernization efforts occurred in the 1980s with the fielding of the M-1 Abrams Tank, the M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the Blackhawk and Apache helicopters. As General McConville has cogently argued, “we must modernize the Army. Every 40 years the Army needs to transform. It did in 1940, it did in 1980 and we’re in 2020 right now.”15


The Army’s ability to transition from counterinsurgency operations was further constrained by a period of fiscal austerity that began with the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.16 The inability to fund what was needed led to difficult across-the-board tradeoffs in equipment, manpower, and operations accounts. Budget pressure drove the Department of Defense (DOD) in 2014 to consider cutting the Army’s Active component end strength from more than 500,000 to 420,000. If implemented, this would have resulted in “the smallest number of troops since before the Second World War.”17 Multiple equipment programs were cancelled.

The change in Administrations in 2017 forestalled those cuts in end strength. However, the addition of billions of dollars by Congress and the Trump Administration, while it served to arrest the decline of the Army and significantly improved unit readiness, was not sufficient to modernize or significantly increase the size of the force.18

A Change in Strategic Direction? As of May 2022, the Biden Administration had been in office for 16 months, yet it remains unclear what direction its National Security or National Defense strategies will take. The Administration’s Interim National Security Guidance provided little insight into its thinking with respect to national defense and does not mention the Army or any other military service.19 The Administration has released a one-and-a-half-page fact sheet on its National Defense Strategy, but it provides no useful details.20

Consequences of the Loss in Buying Power. Despite relatively broad agreement that the DOD budget needed real growth of 3 percent to 5 percent to avoid a strategy–budget mismatch,21 the defense budget topline did not meet that target in FY 2019 and has not done so since.

Of all the services, the Army has fared the worst in terms of resources. Its funding levels plateaued with the FY 2020 budget and since then have declined. The Army received $181 billion in FY 2019, $185 billion in FY 2020, $178 billion in FY 2021, and $175 billion in FY 2022 and has requested $178 billion for FY 2023.22 Because of the inexorable annual bite of inflation and the decline in budget authority, the Army budget for FY 2023 represents a net loss of about 11 percent in buying power, or $46 billion, since FY 2019.

Summarizing the Army budget at a recent hearing, General McConville candidly reported: “You know Congressman, we’re trying to give you the best army we can with the resources we get.”23 General McConville’s more than $5 billion Unfunded Priority List containing hundreds of critical items is a testament to what the Army was not able to include in its FY 2023 budget request: family housing, cold weather clothing, Stinger missiles, counter unmanned aerial vehicle systems, and air defense systems—among many other categories of funding.24


Capacity refers to the sufficiency of forces and equipment needed to execute the National Defense Strategy. One of the ways the Army quantifies its warfighting capacity is by numbers of Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

Brigade Combat Teams. BCTs are the Army’s primary combined arms, close combat force. They often operate as part of a division or joint task force, both of which are the basic building blocks for employment of Army combat forces. BCTs are usually employed within a larger framework of U.S. land operations but are equipped and organized so that they can conduct limited independent operations as circumstances demand.25

BCTs range between 4,000 and 4,700 soldiers in size. There are three types of BCTs: Infantry, Armored, and Stryker. At its core, each of these formations has three maneuver battalions enabled by multiple other units such as artillery, engineers, reconnaissance, logistics, and signal units.26

The simplest way to understand the status of hard Army combat power is to know the readiness, quantity, and modernization level of BCTs. This section deals with the number of BCTs in the force.

Since 2012, the number of active BCTs has been in decline. In January 2012, “DOD announced [that] the Army would reduce the size of the Active Army starting in 2012 from a post-9/11 peak in 2010 of about 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 soldiers by the end of 2017.” Later guidance revised that figure downward “to a range of 440–450,000 soldiers.”27 In 2013, the Army announced that because of those end strength reductions and the priorities of the prior Administration, the number of Regular Army BCTs would be reduced from 45 to 33.28 Subsequent reductions reduced the number of Regular Army BCTs from 33 to 31, where they remain today.29

When President Donald Trump and Congress reversed the planned drawdown in Army end strength and authorized growth beginning in 2017, instead of “re-growing” the numbers of BCTs, the Army chose to “thicken” the force and raise the manning levels within the individual BCTs to increase unit readiness. The Army’s goal was to fill operational units to 105 percent of their authorized manning,30 but the decision announced in the FY 2023 budget to cut end strength by 12,000 soldiers will reverse those trends.

Combat Aviation Brigades. The Regular Army also has a separate air component that is organized into Combat Aviation Brigades (CABs). CABs are made up of Army rotorcraft, such as the AH-64 Apache, and perform various roles including attack, reconnaissance, and assault. The number of Army aviation units also has been reduced. In May 2015, the Army deactivated one of its 12 CABs, leaving only 11 in the Regular Army.31

Generating Force. CABs and Stryker, Infantry, and Armored BCTs make up the Army’s main combat fighting forces, but they obviously do not make up the entirety of the Army. In the Active component, there are 194,000 soldiers in combat units, 119,000 in support units, and 138,000 in overhead units. Overhead is composed of administrative units and units providing such types of support as preparing and training troops for deployments, carrying out key logistics tasks, staffing headquarters, and overseeing military schools and Army educational institutions.


Functional or Multifunctional Support Brigades. In addition to the institutional Army, a great number of functional or multifunctional support brigades, amounting to approximately 46 percent of the force,32 provide air defense; engineering; explosive ordnance disposal; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection; military police; military intelligence; and medical support among other types of battlefield support. Special operations forces such as the 75th Ranger Regiment, six Special Forces Groups, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are also included in these numbers.

New Concepts and Supporting Force Structure. The Army is trying to adapt its force structure to meet the anticipated new demands of near-peer competition. The foundations for these changes are contained in the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, published in December 2018, which describes how the Army views the future.33

In January 2022, the Army announced that it planned to modify its force structure for MDO under the designation “Army 2030.” As part of this initiative, the Army plans to reorganize divisions into five different types: Standard Light, Standard Heavy, Penetration, Joint Force Entry Air Assault, and Joint Force Entry Airborne.34 Very little information has been made public regarding the missions, the organization of these divisions, and the timeline for conversions. As part of its adaptation to MDO, the Army reactivated V Corps Headquarters on October 16, 2020, to provide operational planning, mission command, and oversight of rotational forces in Europe.35


The Army also has announced plans to create five Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTFs). One MDTF is currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis–McChord in Washington State. Another is in Wiesbaden Germany, aligned to Europe. These task forces contain rockets, missiles, military intelligence, and other capabilities that will allow Army forces to operate seamlessly with joint partners and conduct multi-domain operations.36 A third MDTF included in the Army’s FY 2023 budget will be “tied” to the Indo-Pacific with exact stationing still to be determined.37

To relieve the stress on the use of BCTs for advisory missions, the Army has activated six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs). These units, each one of which is composed of about 800 soldiers, are designed specifically to train, advise, and mentor other partner-nation military units. The Army had been using BCTs for this mission, but because train-and-assist missions typically require senior officers and noncommissioned officers, a BCT comprised predominantly of junior soldiers was a poor fit. The SFABs will be regionally aligned to combatant commands. Of the six SFABs, one is in the National Guard, and the other five are in the Regular Army.38

Force Too Small to Execute the NDS. Army leaders have consistently stated that the Army is too small to execute the National Defense Strategy at less than significant risk. For FY 2022, the Army had an authorized total end strength of 1,010,500 soldiers:

  • 485,000 in the Regular Army,
  • 189,500 in the Army Reserve, and
  • 336,000 in the Army National Guard (ARNG).39

In May 2021, Army Chief of Staff McConville testified that “[w]hen we take a look at end-strength, I would like to grow the Army. We’ve done analysis like the previous chief [General Mark Milley] talked about. 540 to 550 [thousand] is about the right size of the Army.”40 In an earlier discussion with reporters, McConville stated, “I would have a bigger…sized Army if I thought we could afford it, I think we need it, I really do…. I think the regular Army should be somewhere around 540–550 [thousand]…. [W]e’re sitting right now at 485,000.”41

The Army’s plan to increase the size of the Regular Army force has recently been slammed into reverse because of budget cuts and recruiting challenges. The Army had planned to raise the Regular Army incrementally to above 500,000 by adding approximately 2,000 soldiers per year.42 At that rate, it would have reached 500,000 by around 2028. Now even that modest plan is off the table. As a result of bleak defense budget forecasts and recruiting difficulties, the Army has proposed to cut its active end strength by 12,000 in FY 2023.43

Overall end strength dictates how many BCTs the Army can form, and by cutting end strength, not only will the service not be able to add more combat units, but it will likely have to reduce the manning levels in the units it possesses. This will drive a higher operational tempo (OPTEMPO) for Army units and increase risk both for the force and for the ability of the Army to carry out its mission.

Many outside experts agree that the U.S. Army is too small. In 2017, Congress established the National Defense Strategy Commission to provide an “independent, non-partisan review of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.” Two of the commissioners, Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Mr. Michael McCord, are now top DOD leaders. Among its findings, the commission unanimously reported that the NDS now charges the military with facing “five credible challengers, including two major-power competitors, and three distinctly different geographic and operational environments.” The commission assessed that “[t]his being the case, a two-war force sizing construct makes more strategic sense today than at any previous point in the post-Cold War era.” In other words, “[s]imply put, the United States needs a larger force than it has today if it is to meet the objectives of the strategy.”44

In addition to the increased strategic risk of not being able to execute the NDS within the desired time frame, the combination of an insufficient number of BCTs and a lower-than-required Army end strength has resulted in a higher-than-desired level of OPTEMPO. Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, Major General Sean Swindell recently stated that the Army had tried to reduce the demands on the force, but that “effort has been going in the opposite direction.”45

Army Force Posture. The Army also has transitioned from a force with a third of its strength typically stationed overseas, as it was during the Cold War, to a force that is mostly based in the continental United States. In 1985, 31 percent of the active-duty Army was stationed overseas; by 2015, that figure had declined to 9 percent.46 The desire to find a peace dividend following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, combined with a reluctance to close bases in the United States, led to large-scale base closures and force reductions overseas. Even though the 2018 NDS (the most recently publicly available defense strategy) placed a high premium on how the Joint Force is postured, achieving that goal will be very difficult with the vast bulk of the Army now in the United States.

Among Army units that deploy periodically are Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) and Patriot Battalions that rotate to and from Europe, Kuwait, and Korea. Rather than relying on forward-stationed BCTs, the Army rotates ABCTs to these regions on a “heel-to-toe” basis so that there is never a gap.

The Russia–Ukraine War has brought the issue of stationing more Army forces in Europe back to the forefront. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley has suggested that the U.S. should establish more permanent European bases and rotate more forces to the continent.47 There is disagreement as to which represents the better option: rotated forces or forward-stationed forces. Proponents of rotational BCTs argue that they arrive fully trained, that they remain at a high state of readiness throughout their typically nine-month overseas rotation, and that the cost of providing for accompanying military families is avoided. Those who favor forward-stationed forces point to a lower overall cost, forces that typically are more familiar with the operating environment, and a more reassuring presence for our allies.48 In reality, both types of force postures are needed, not only for the reasons mentioned, but also because the mechanisms by which a unit is deployed, received into theater, and integrated with the force stationed abroad must be practiced on a regular basis.


Capability in this context refers to the quality, performance, suitability, and age of the Army’s various types of combat equipment. In general, the Army is using equipment developed in the 1970s, fielded in the 1980s, and incrementally upgraded since then. This “modernization gap” was caused by several factors: the predominant focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11; pressures caused by budget cuts, especially those associated with the BCA; and failures in major modernization programs like the Future Combat System, Ground Combat Vehicle, and Crusader artillery system.

Army leaders today clearly view this situation as a serious challenge. General McConville believes that modernization cannot be deferred any longer:

[E]veryone believes, and I believe strongly––that we must transform and modernize the Army now. So we’ve got to do that. We’re three years into it, I think we’ve got some really good programs going. We probably need about two or three more years of good solid budgets. And I think that’s something we have to do.49

Emphasizing the point, McConville also said recently that “we must transform the Army, now. Every 40 years, I would argue or suggest the Army transforms. It did it in 1940, it did it when I came in, in the Army in 1980. Now, we’re in 2020, and we must transform the Army.”50

Equipment Losing Its Competitive Advantage. As an example of how Army equipment is falling behind that of our competitors, the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), first introduced in 1991, is the Army’s only ground-launched precision missile. Because of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’s restrictions and other factors, it had a maximum range of 300 kilometers. China and Russia have much more substantial inventories of conventional, precision, ground-launched missiles and rockets. China has nine major ground-launched missile systems and more than 425 launchers. These capable systems can range from 600 kilometers (DF-11A and DF-15) to 4,000 kilometers (DF-26).51 Russia, on the other hand, has the widest inventory of missiles in the world: at least four conventional ground-launched missile systems that can range from 120 kilometers (SS-21) to 2,500 kilometers (SSC-8).52 The Army plans to field a new precision strike missile by 2023, but for now, that system remains a plan rather than a capability.53

Another example is the main battle tank. When the M-1 Abrams was introduced in 1980, it was indisputably the world’s best tank. Now, in 2022, before the war with Ukraine, Russia was reportedly going to export versions of its T-14 Armata tank, which has an unmanned turret, reinforced frontal armor, an information management system that controls all elements of the tank, a circular Doppler radar, an option for a 155 mm gun, and 360-degree ultraviolet high-definition cameras.54 Other assessments rate two other tanks—the German Leopard 2A7 and the South Korean K2 Black Panther—as superior to the M-1A2 SEP v3.55 The M-1A2 SEP v3 (the latest version) is a very good tank, but the decisive advantage the U.S. once enjoyed in tank warfare has now disappeared.

Similarly, the U.S. Army’s Patriot Missile System is an excellent system, but countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and India have either purchased or recently expressed interest in buying the Russian competitor system, the S-400.56 The question has to be asked: Why?

Within the Army’s inventory of equipment are thousands of combat systems, including small arms, trucks, aircraft, soldier-carried weapons, radios, tracked vehicles, artillery systems, missiles, and drones. The following updates with respect to some of the major systems as they pertain to Armored, Stryker, and Infantry BCTs and Combat Aviation Brigades are by no means exhaustive.

Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). The Armored BCT’s role is to “close with the enemy by means of fire and movement to destroy or capture enemy forces, or to repel enemy attacks by fire, close combat, and counterattack to control land areas, including populations and resources.”57 The Abrams Main Battle Tank (most recent version in production: M1A2 SEPv3, “scheduled for First Unit Equipped in FY 2020”58) and Bradley Fighting Vehicle (most recent version: M2A4, first unit equipped in April 202259) are the primary Armored BCT combat platforms.

The M-1 tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle first entered service in 1980 and 1981, respectively. There are 87 M-1 Abrams tanks and 152 Bradley Fighting Vehicle variants in an ABCT.60 Despite upgrades, the M-1 tank and the Bradley are now at least 40 years old, and their replacements will likely not arrive until the platforms are at least 50 years old.


Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV). The Army’s replacement program for the Bradley, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, was on an aggressive timeline, but the Army cancelled the request for proposals in January 2020 and rereleased an RFP for what it called a “concept design” in December 2020. Five teams were selected to come up with designs for the OMFV. The next milestone was in July 2022 when the government released a final RFP. An award for three contractors to produce detailed designs is expected in the second quarter of FY 2023,61 and “[t]he Army now plans for the first unit to be equipped [with the OMFV] in the fourth quarter of FY2028.”62 Flat or declining funding such as the Army is currently experiencing may impact those plans.

New Tank? A potential clean-sheet replacement for the M-1 tank is even further down the road. The Army does not intend to decide “what direction we want to go for decisive lethality and survivability on the battlefield” until at least 2023.63 Meanwhile, the Army has another upgrade in development for the Abrams platform: the M1A2 SEPv4, which would incorporate a third-generation Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensor.64

Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV). The venerable M113 multi-purpose personnel carrier is also part of an ABCT and fills multiple roles such as mortar carrier and ambulance. It entered service in 1960 and is scheduled to be replaced by the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), which after numerous delays “entered the low-rate initial production phase (LRIP)” on January 25, 2019.65 The system’s first fieldings are now expected during the second quarter of FY 2023.66 The Army’s FY 2023 budget requested to procure 72 AMPVs. At that rate, it will take the Army 40 years to meet its objective of 2,897 AMPVs.67

Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT). The Stryker BCT “is an expeditionary combined arms force organized around mounted infantry” and is able to “operate effectively in most terrain and weather conditions” because of its rapid strategic deployment and mobility.68 Stryker BCTs are equipped with approximately 321 eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles.69 Relatively speaking, these vehicles are among the Army’s newest combat platforms, having entered service in 2001. In response to an Operational Needs Statement, the Stryker BCT in Europe received Strykers fitted with a 30 mm cannon to provide an improved anti-armor capability.70 Based on the success of that effort, the Army decided to outfit at least three of its SBCTs equipped with the Double V-hull, which affords better underbody protection against such threats as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with the 30 mm autocannon.71 The next SBCT to receive the cannons (after the 2nd Cavalry Regiment) will be the 1-2 SBCT at Joint Base Lewis–McChord in Washington State.72 The Army is also integrating Javelin anti-tank missiles on the Stryker platform and test-fired this capability in April 2022.73

Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The Infantry BCT “is an expeditionary, combined arms formation optimized for dismounted operations in complex terrain—a geographical area consisting of an urban center larger than a village and/or of two or more types of restrictive terrain or environmental conditions occupying the same space.”74 Infantry BCTs have fewer vehicles and rely on lighter platforms such as trucks, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) for mobility.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The JLTV combines the protection offered by Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) with the mobility of the original unarmored HMMWV. The vehicle features design improvements that increase its survivability against anti-armor weapons and IEDs. The Army Procurement Objective is 49,099, replacing about 50 percent of the current HMMWV fleet.

Requested FY 2023 funding of $703.1 million would support procurement of 1,528 JLTVs and 1,381 trailers. This reflects an increase in funding for this program ($574.6 million was enacted for FY 2022), suggesting that the Army is committed to this program, at least in the short term. Considering the 5,426 JLTVs the Army has already procured,75 as well as procurement at a rate of 1,528 vehicles (the FY 2023 rate), the Army will not reach its procurement objective for the JLTV until 2050, thereby forcing continued reliance on aging HMMWVs, which began fielding in 1983.76

Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF). The Army is developing an armored gun system called Mobile Protected Firepower to provide IBCTs with the firepower to engage enemy armored vehicles and fortifications. In 2020, the Army received 24 prototypes (12 each from General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE) for testing and evaluation. The Army announced in June 2022 that the winner of the competition was General Dynamics Land Systems. The first units are expected to receive MPF in FY 2025.77

Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV). Airborne BCTs are the first IBCTs to receive a new platform to increase their speed and mobility. The GMV (also referred to as the Infantry Squad Vehicle) provides enhanced tactical mobility for an IBCT nine-soldier infantry squad with their associated equipment. GM Defense was selected for the production contract in June 2020. The Army has approved a procurement objective of 11 IBCT sets at 59 vehicles per IBCT for a total of 649 vehicles. The approved Army acquisition objective is 2,406, but for some unspecified reason, funding for the program is projected to stop in FY 2024 with 848 systems procured.78


Combat Aviation Brigade. CABs are composed of AH-64 Apache attack, UH-60 Black Hawk medium-lift, and CH-47 heavy-lift Chinook helicopters. The Army has been methodically upgrading these fleets for decades, but the FY 2023 budget request continues the reduction in aircraft procurement that began in FY 2022. This continued cutback in helicopter modernization, if enacted, would extend the amount of time necessary to put aircraft crews in the latest version of these critical platforms. This is a continued reflection of downward budget pressure and incurs additional risk for the Army.

UH/HH-60. The acquisition objective for the H-60 medium-lift helicopter is 1,375 H-60Ms and 760 recapitalized 60-A/L/Vs for a total of 2,135 aircraft. The FY 2023 procurement request for the UH-60M is $718.5 million, which would support the procurement of 25 aircraft (one more than the 24 requested in FY 2021 before congressional adds).79

CH-47. The CH-47F Chinook, a rebuilt variant of the Army’s CH-47D heavy-lift helicopter, has an acquisition objective of 535 aircraft (a reduction of 15 from last year) and, with no replacement on the horizon, is expected to remain the Army’s heavy-lift helicopter for the foreseeable future. The FY 2023 budget request of $187.9 million would support the service life extension of six aircraft, all of which would be the MH-47G special operations model.80

AH-64. The AH-64E heavy attack helicopter has an acquisition objective of 812 aircraft (a combination of remanufactured and new build), which is being met by the building of new aircraft and remanufacturing of older AH-64 models. The $693.9 FY 2023 procurement request would support the purchase of 35 AH-64E aircraft81 (five more than the 30 requested in the FY 2022 budget before congressional adds).

Overall, the Army’s equipment inventory, while increasingly dated, is maintained well. Despite high usage in Afghanistan and Iraq, most Army platforms are relatively “young” because the Army deliberately undertook and Congress funded a “reset” plan that includes “[r]epairing and reconditioning systems to bring them back to a satisfactory operating condition.” Under its current modernization plans, “the Army envisions [the M-1 Abrams Tank, the M-2/M-3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV), and the M-1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle] to be in service with Active and National Guard forces beyond FY 2028.”82

In addition to seeing to the viability of today’s equipment, the military must look to the health of future equipment programs. Although future modernization programs are not current hard-power capabilities that can be applied against an enemy force today, they are a leading indicator of a service’s overall fitness for future sustained combat operations. In future years, the service could be forced to engage an enemy with aging equipment and no program in place to maintain viability or endurance in sustained operations.

The U.S. military services are continually assessing how best to stay a step ahead of competitors: whether to modernize the force today with currently available technology or wait to see what investments in research and development produce years down the road. Technologies mature and proliferate, becoming more accessible to a wider array of actors over time.

After years of a singular focus on counterinsurgency followed by concentration on the current readiness of the force, the Army is now playing catch-up in equipment modernization. General Milley, for example, has said that China is “on a path…to be on par with the U.S. at some point in the future.”83 While his statement is intentionally ambiguous, General Milley was clearly conveying his concern about the pace of China’s modernization and the very real danger that the U.S. military could lose its current advantages.

New Organizations and Emphasis on Modernization. In 2017, the Army established eight cross-functional teams (CFTs) to improve the management of its top modernization priorities, and in 2018, it established a new four-star headquarters, Army Futures Command, to lead modernization efforts.84 Time will tell whether the new structures, commands, and emphasis result in long-term improvement in modernization posture. The Army aspires to develop and procure an entire new generation of equipment based on its six modernization priorities: “long range precision fires, next generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, network, air and missile defense, and Soldier lethality.”85

Although the Army has put in place new organizations, plans, and strategies to manage modernization, the future is uncertain, and Army programs are in a fragile state with only a few in an active procurement status. The Army has shown great willingness to make tough choices and reallocate funding toward its modernization programs, but this has usually been at the expense of end strength or reduction in the total quantity of new items purchased. “There has been real progress in [modernization] over the last three or four years, but that progress is fragile,” Lieutenant General James Pasquarette, a former senior Army budget official, has warned. “We continue to fund [the top] priority programs at the cost of the other programs in the equipping portfolio.”86

As budget challenges such as nuclear deterrence programs, inflation, rising personnel costs, health care, and the need to invest in programs to respond to China’s increasingly aggressive activities continue to present themselves, the Army desperately needs time and funding to modernize its inventory of equipment. Recent modernization programs seem to be on track except for the OMFV program and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System,87 both of which needed a reboot. Limited numbers of Stryker vehicle-mounted Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) systems have been delivered to Europe.88 Army officials are currently optimistic about future fielding dates for equipment like the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, a hypersonic weapon firing battery, and the Precision Strike Missile, all of which are scheduled to begin delivery in FY 2023, but their success will depend on sustained funding.


BCT Readiness. Over the past four years, the Army has made significant progress in increasing the readiness of its forces. Its goal is to have 66 percent of the Regular Army and 33 percent of National Guard BCTs at the highest levels of readiness.89

As of July 6, 2022, the Army reported that “81 percent of Active Component Brigade Combat Teams are at the highest levels of tactical readiness,”90 15 percentage points above its goal and 23 percentage points above last year’s reported level. This means that 25 of the Army’s 31 active BCTs were at either C1 or C2, the two highest levels of tactical readiness, and ready to perform all or most of their wartime missions immediately. The 2022 Index reported that 21 Regular Army BCTs were at the highest levels of readiness.

There also are 27 BCTs in the Army National Guard: five Armor, 20 Infantry, and two Stryker. The Army has allocated two Combat Training Center (CTC) rotations for two National Guard BCTs. The two BCTs conducting CTC rotations “are resourced to achieve company-level proficiency,” and the remaining 25 “are on a path to platoon minus-level proficiency.”91 These training levels dictate that additional training time would be required before the unit could be deployed.

Training Resources Slashed. In the FY 2023 budget request, funding for training activities is maintained at the low level first established in FY 2022. When measuring training resourcing for Brigade Combat Teams, the Army uses full-spectrum training miles (FSTMs), which represents the number of miles that formations are resourced to drive their primary vehicles on an annual basis. For Combat Aviation Brigades, the Army uses hours per crew per month (H/C/M), which reflects the number of hours that aviation crews can fly their helicopters per month.

According to the Army’s budget justification exhibits, “[t]he FY 2023 budget funds unit Operating Tempo (OPTEMPO) at 1,235 Full Spectrum Training Miles for non-deployed units” and “358,000 Flying Hours (11.1 hours per crew per month), an increase from FY 2022 (10.3 H/C/M)” to meet “required training readiness levels.” The FY 2023 proposed active FSTM is slightly higher (7 percent) than resourced levels of 1,150 miles and higher (11 percent) than the 10.0 active flying hours per crew per month enacted in the FY 2022 budget.92

Training Level Goals Reduced. The Army is coping with reduced training resources by shifting training to lower echelons, where it is less expensive. Its strategy, begun in FY 2022, “focuses resources on squad, platoon and company level training to achieve highly trained companies.”93 Starting with the FY 2022 budget justification books, the Army began to omit the Unit Proficiency Level Goal, which for years has been BCT; it is likely now battalion or company.

CTC Rotations. The Army uses Combat Training Centers to train its forces to desired levels of proficiency. Specifically, this important program “provide[s] realistic joint and combined arms training…approximating actual combat” and increases “unit readiness for deployment and warfighting.”94 For FY 2023, “the Army is resourcing 22 Brigade Combat Team (BCT)-level CTC rotations…(17 Active BCT-level rotations, 2 BCT- level for the Army National Guard, and 3 for units on rotation in Europe).”95

New Readiness Model. The Army has transitioned from one readiness model to another. Its Sustainable Readiness Model, implementation of which began in 2017, was intended to give units more predictability. Its new Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (ReARMM) is designed to “better balance operational tempo (OPTEMPO) with dedicated periods for conducting missions, training, and modernization.”96 ReARMM features units that spend eight months in a modernization-training-mission cycle while preparing to deploy to a specific part of the world. The Army shifted to this new model on October 1, 2021.97

In general, the Army continues to be challenged by structural readiness problems as evidenced by too small a force attempting to satisfy too many global presence requirements and Operations Plan (OPLAN) warfighting requirements. If demand is not reduced, the funding cuts and end strength reduction featured in the FY 2023 budget can be expected to result in a continued decline in readiness.

Scoring the U.S. Army

Capacity Score: Weak

Historical evidence shows that, on average, the Army needs 21 Brigade Combat Teams to fight one major regional conflict (MRC). Based on a conversion of roughly 3.5 BCTs per division, the Army deployed 21 BCTs in Korea, 25 in Vietnam, 14 in the Persian Gulf War, and approximately four in Operation Iraqi Freedom—an average of 16 BCTs (or 21 if the much smaller Operation Iraqi Freedom initial invasion operation is excluded). In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Obama Administration recommended a force capable of deploying 45 Active BCTs. Previous government force-sizing documents discuss Army force structure in terms of divisions and consistently advocate for 10–11 divisions, which equates to roughly 37 Active BCTs.

Considering the varying recommendations of 35–45 BCTs and the actual experience of nearly 21 BCTs deployed per major engagement, our assessment is that 42 BCTs would be needed to fight two MRCs.98 Taking into account the need for a strategic reserve, the Army force should also include an additional 20 percent of the 42 BCTs, resulting in an overall requirement of 50 BCTs.

Previous editions of the Index had counted a small number of Army National Guard BCTs in the overall count of available BCTs. Because the Army no longer makes mention of Army National Guard BCTs at the highest state of readiness, they are no longer counted in this edition of the Index. The Army has 31 Regular Army BCTs compared to a two-MRC construct requirement of 50. The Army’s overall capacity score therefore remains unchanged from 2022.

  • Two-MRC Benchmark: 50 Brigade Combat Teams.
  • Actual FY 2022 Level: 31 Regular Army Brigade Combat Teams.

The Army’s current BCT capacity equals 62 percent of the two-MRC benchmark and is therefore scored as “weak.”

Capability Score: Marginal

The Army’s aggregate capability score remains “marginal.” This aggregate score is a result of “marginal” scores for “Age of Equipment,” “Size of Modernization Programs,” and “Health of Modernization Programs.” More detail on these programs can be found in the equipment appendix following this section. The Army is scored “weak” for “Capability of Equipment.”

Despite modest progress with the JLTV, Mobile Protected Firepower, Ground Mobility Vehicle, and AMPV programs, and in spite of such promising developments as creation of Army Futures Command, CFTs, and the initiation of new Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDTE) funded programs, nearly all new Army equipment programs remain in the development phase and in most cases are one to two years from entering procurement. FY 2023 requested funding levels for procurement and research and development are down 7 percent compared to the FY 2022 enacted levels, which slows the pace of Army equipping and reduces the speed of procurement to below industry’s minimum sustainment rates in some cases. The result of the FY 2023 budget request would be an Army aging faster than it is modernizing.

Readiness Score: Very Strong

The Army reports that 81 percent of its 31 Regular Army BCTs are at the highest state of readiness.99 No National Guard BCTs were at those levels of readiness. The Army’s internal requirement is for “66 percent…of the active component BCTs [to be] at the highest readiness levels.”100 Using the assessment methods of this Index, this results in a percentage of service requirement of 100 percent, or “very strong.”

Overall U.S. Army Score: Marginal

The Army’s overall score is calculated based on an unweighted average of its capacity, capability, and readiness scores. The unweighted average is 3.33; thus, the overall Army score is “marginal.” This was derived from the aggregate score for capacity (“weak”); capability (“marginal”); and readiness (“very strong”). This score is the same as the assessment of the 2022 Index, which also rated the Army as “marginal” overall.




[1] U.S. Department of the Army, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), FY 2023 President’s Budget Highlights, April 2022, p. 4, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/pbr/Army%20FY%202023%20Budget%20Highlights.pdf (accessed June 21, 2022).

[2] The Honorable Christine E. Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, and General James C. McConville, Chief of Staff, United States Army, statement “On the Posture of the United States Army” before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, May 12, 2022, pp. 2–3, https://armedservices.house.gov/_cache/files/c/3/c3f53d4f-6a4b-4854-9212-cb92d17c5765/962FA11E33CBEB373AF6C8D1667F03BB.20220512-fc-witness-statement-wormuth-mcconville.pdf (accessed June 21, 2022).

[3] Christine E. Wormuth, “Message from the Secretary of the Army to the Force,” U.S. Army, February 8, 2022, https://www.army.mil/article/253814/message_from_the_secretary_of_the_army_to_the_force (accessed June 21, 2022).

[4] The FY 2022 enacted Army budget was $174.8 billion. Five percent inflation would equal $8.7 billion, added to the FY 2022 amount would equal $183.5 billion, $6 billion more than was requested for FY 2023.

[5] Statement by Representative Mike Rogers (R–AL), Ranking Member, House Committee on Armed Services, in Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Army Budget Request,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, May 12, 2022, https://plus.cq.com/doc/congressionaltranscripts-6534501?2 (accessed June 23, 2022).

[6] Brad Knickerbocker, “Gates’s Warning: Avoid Land War in Asia, Middle East, and Africa,” The Christian Science Monitor, February 26, 2011, https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2011/0226/Gates-s-warning-Avoid-land-war-in-Asia-Middle-East-and-Africa (accessed June 21, 2022).

[7] Davis Winkie, “Army Hits End-Strength Goals Through High Retention, Lower Basic Training Attrition,” Army Times, October 20, 2021, https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2021/10/20/army-hits-end-strength-goals-through-high-retention-lower-basic-training-attrition/ (accessed June 21, 2022).

[8] Honorable Gabe Camarillo, Under Secretary of the Army, “Army Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Overview,” March 28, 2022, p. 7, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/pbr/Army%20FY%202023%20Budget%20Overview.pdf (accessed June 27, 2022).

[9] Thomas Spoehr, “Military Recruiting Faces Its Biggest Challenge in Years,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, May 13, 2022, https://www.heritage.org/defense/commentary/military-recruiting-faces-its-biggest-challenge-years.

[10] News release, “The Employment Situation—May 2022,” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 3, 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[11] Thomas Spoehr, “Improving America’s Long-Term Military Recruiting Outlook,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 3657, October 5, 2021, p. 10, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/improving-americas-long-term-military-recruiting-outlook.

[12] James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge, https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022). See also National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The White House, December 2017, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf (accessed June 8, 2021). A public version of the 2022 NDS has not yet been released.

[13] John Tirpak, “Next National Defense Strategy Should Return to Two-War Force Construct,” Air Force Magazine, June 15, 2021, https://www.airforcemag.com/next-national-defense-strategy-should-return-to-two-war-force-construct/ (accessed June 23, 2022). The Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States similarly noted that “a two-war force sizing construct makes more strategic sense today than at any previous point in the post–Cold War era.” See Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission (Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2018), p. 35, https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/providing-for-the-common-defense.pdf (accessed June 23, 2022). The report is undated but was released in November 2018. Press release, “National Defense Strategy Commission Releases Its Review of 2018 National Defense Strategy,” United States Institute of Peace, November 13, 2018, https://www.usip.org/press/2018/11/national-defense-strategy-commission-releases-its-review-2018-national-defense (accessed June 23, 2022).

[14] Loren B. Thompson, “Army Move to Kill Air Defense System Leaves Other Services and Allies in the Lurch,” The Lexington Institute, September 30, 2010, https://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/army-move-to-kill-air-defense-system-leaves-other-services-and-allies-in-the-lurch/ (accessed June 23, 2022).

[15] Jen Judson, “US Army Chief Says End Strength Will Stay Flat in Upcoming Budgets,” Defense News, March 16, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/global-force-symposium/2021/03/17/army-chief-says-end-strength-numbers-to-stay-flat-in-upcoming-budgets/ (accessed June 23, 2022).

[16] S. 365, Budget Control Act of 2011, Public Law 112-25, 112th Cong., August 2, 2011, https://www.congress.gov/112/plaws/publ25/PLAW-112publ25.pdf (accessed June 23, 2022).

[17] David Alexander, “Big Budget Cuts Pose ‘Tough, Tough Choices’ for Pentagon—Hagel,” Reuters, March 6, 2014, https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-defense-budget/big-budget-cuts-pose-tough-tough-choices-for-pentagon-hagel-idINL1N0M31UB20140306 (accessed June 23, 2022). See also testimony of Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, in hearing, Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, 113th Cong., 2nd Sess., March 6, 2014, pp. 10 and 21–22, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg87616/pdf/CHRG-113hhrg87616.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[18] Elizabeth Howe, “Trump-Era Efforts to Boost Military Readiness Produced Mixed Results, GAO Finds,” Defense One, April 16, 2021, https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2021/04/trump-era-efforts-boost-military-readiness-produced-mixed-results-gao-finds/173411/ (accessed June 23, 2022), and U.S. Government Accountability Office, Military Readiness: Department of Defense Domain Readiness Varied from Fiscal Year 2017 Through Fiscal Year 2019, GAO-21-279, April 2021, https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-279.pdf (accessed June 23, 2022).

[19] Thomas Spoehr, “Hits & Misses in Biden’s Interim National Security Guidance,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, March 8, 2021, https://www.heritage.org/defense/commentary/hits-misses-bidens-interim-national-security-guidance. See also President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, The White House, March 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NSC-1v2.pdf (accessed June 23, 2022).

[20] U.S. Department of Defense, “Fact Sheet: 2022 National Defense Strategy,” March 28, 2022, https://media.defense.gov/2022/Mar/28/2002964702/-1/-1/1/NDS-FACT-SHEET.PDF (accessed June 23, 2022).

[21] Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission, p xii. “Real” growth means that the growth is in addition to inflation. As an example, if inflation equals 2 percent each year, real growth of 3 percent would equal 5 percent net growth.

[22] Camarillo, “Army Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Overview,” p. 5.

[23] Testimony of General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, in Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Army Budget Request,” May 12, 2022, p. 13.

[24] See “FY23 Chief of Staff of the Army’s Unfunded Priorities List,” April 18, 2022, https://www.taxpayer.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/FY2023-UPL_Chief-of-Staff-of-the-Army.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022); “FY23 CSA UPL Army Bin Summary,” April 7, 2022, https://www.taxpayer.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/FY2023-UPL_Army-summary.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022); and “FY23 CSA UPL MILCON Only,” undated, https://www.taxpayer.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/FY2023-UPL_Army-MILCON.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[25] Headquarters, U.S. Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, January 19, 2021, p. xi, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN31505-FM_3-96-000-WEB-1.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[26] Congressional Budget Office, The U.S. Military’s Force Structure: A Primer, 2021 Update, May 20, 2021, pp. 17–35, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2021-05/57088-Force-Structure-Primer.pdf (accessed June 23, 2021).

[27] Andrew Feickert, “Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress No. R42493, February 28, 2014, pp. 4, 14, and 18, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42493.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[28] Association of the United States Army, “Army Brigade Combat Teams Are Reduced from 45 to 33,” August 1, 2013, https://www.ausa.org/articles/army-brigade-combat-teams-are-reduced-45-33 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[29] Exhibit OP-5, “Subactivity Group 111, Budget Activity 01: Operating Forces, Activity Group 11: Land Forces, Detail by Subactivity Group 111: Maneuver Units,” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Army, Volume I, Operations and Maintenance, Army, Justification of Estimates, April 2022, p. 57, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/OMA_Volume_1.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[30] John H. Pendleton, Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Army Readiness: Progress and Challenges in Rebuilding Personnel, Equipping and Training,” testimony before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, GAO-19-367T, February 6, 2019, p. 7, https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-19-367t.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[31] Exhibit OP-5, “Subactivity Group 116, Budget Activity 01: Operating Forces, Activity Group 11: Land Forces, Detail by Subactivity Group 116: Aviation Assets,” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Army, Volume I, Operations and Maintenance, Army: Justification of Estimates, p. 121.

[32] Based on data in Table 2.2, “Average Distribution of the Department of the Army’s Military Personnel, 2021 to 2025,” in Congressional Budget Office, The U.S. Military’s Force Structure: A Primer, 2021 Update, p. 20.

[33] U.S. Army, Training and Doctrine Command, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-3-1, December 6, 2018, https://api.army.mil/e2/c/downloads/2021/02/26/b45372c1/20181206-tp525-3-1-the-us-army-in-mdo-2028-final.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022). For more on the Multi-Domain Operations concept, see Thomas W. Spoehr, “Rebuilding America’s Military Project: The United States Army,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 215, August 22, 2019, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/rebuilding-americas-military-project-the-united-states-army.

[34] Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s AimPoint and Army 2030 Force Structure Initiatives,” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. IF11542, updated January 31, 2022, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11542 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[35] Eric Pilgrim, “Historic V Corps Activates at Fort Knox on ‘Picture Perfect’ Day,” U.S. Army, October 16, 2020, https://www.army.mil/article/240038/historic_v_corps_activates_at_fort_knox_on_picture_perfect_day (accessed June 25, 2022).

[36] Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF),” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. IF11797, updated May 31, 2022, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11797 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[37] Andrew W. Eversden, “Army’s Next Multi-Domain Task Force Will Be ‘Tied’ to Indo-Pacific,” Breaking Defense, April 1, 2022, https://breakingdefense.com/2022/04/armys-next-multi-domain-task-force-will-be-tied-to-indo-pacific/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[38] Andrew Feickert, “Army Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs),” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. 10675, updated June 1, 2022, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10675 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[39] Sec. 401, “End Strengths for Active Forces,” in S. 1605, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, Public Law 117-81, 117th Cong., December 27, 2021, https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ81/PLAW-117publ81.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[40] Testimony of General James C. McConville, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, in Congressional Quarterly, “House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Holds Hearing on Fiscal 2022 Budget Request for the Army,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, May 5, 2021, https://plus.cq.com/doc/congressionaltranscripts-6214685?5 (accessed June 26, 2022).

[41] Jaspreet Gill, “McConville: Army Active-Duty End Strength Should Be ‘Somewhere Around’ 540K,” Inside Defense, March 25, 2021, https://insidedefense.com/insider/mcconville-army-active-duty-end-strength-should-be-somewhere-around-540k (accessed June 25, 2022). Punctuation as in original.

[42] Meghann Myers, “Big Bonus Changes, Filling Units, New Slogan: Inside the Army’s Push to Recruit and Man a Bigger Force,” Army Times, March 28, 2019, https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/03/28/big-bonus-changes-filling-units-marketing-inside-the-armys-push-to-recruit-and-man-a-bigger-force/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[43] Jen Judson, “US Army’s $178 Billion FY23 Budget Protects Modernization, Cuts End Strength,” Defense News, March 28, 2022, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2022/03/28/us-armys-178-billion-fy23-budget-protects-modernization-cuts-end-strength/#:~:text=But%20it%20will%20maintain%20336%2C000,five%20years%2C%20according%20to%20Camarillo (accessed June 25, 2022).

[44] Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission, pp. 35–36. Emphasis in original.

[45] Haley Britzky, “The Army Knows Its Op-tempo Is ‘Unsustainable’ but Can’t Seem to Fix It,” Task & Purpose, March 29, 2022, https://taskandpurpose.com/news/army-training-rotations-optempo-budget/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[46] Boost Labs, “The U.S. Army: Then & Now,” https://www.boostlabs.com/portfolio/u-s-army-now/ (accessed June 26, 2022).

[47] Meghann Myers, “Pentagon’s Top General Suggests More Permanent Basing in Europe, but With Rotational Manning,” Military Times, April 5, 2022, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2022/04/05/pentagons-top-general-suggests-more-permanent-basing-in-europe-but-with-rotational-manning/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[48] See Andrew Gregory, “Maintaining a Deep Bench: Why Armored BCT Rotations in Europe and Korea Are Best for America’s Global Security Requirements,” Modern War Institute at West Point, July 31, 2017, https://mwi.usma.edu/maintaining-deep-bench-armored-bct-rotations-europe-korea-best-americas-global-security-requirements/ (accessed June 25, 2022), and Daniel Kochis and Thomas Spoehr, “It’s Time to Move US Forces Back to Europe,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, September 15, 2017, https://www.heritage.org/defense/commentary/its-time-move-us-forces-back-europe.

[49] Transcript, “How the Army Is Adapting to Great Power Competition,” Brookings Institution Webinar, March 25, 2021, p. 13, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/fp_20210325_army_mcconville_transcript.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022). Punctuation as in original.

[50] Congressional Quarterly, “Heritage Foundation Holds Webinar on the Army and Great Power Competition,” CQ Newsmaker Transcripts, February 17, 2021, https://plus.cq.com/doc/newsmakertranscripts-6130618?4&searchId=69Nsjt4V (accessed June 26, 2022).

[51] China Power Team, “How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, China Power Project, updated May 12, 2021, https://chinapower.csis.org/conventional-missiles/China-Power (accessed June 26, 2022).

[52] Center for Strategic and International Studies, Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of Russia,” Missile Threat, last updated August 10, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/russia/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[53] Jen Judson, “US Army’s Precision Strike Missile Gets Green Light for Development, Readies for Big Test,” Defense News, October 11, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/10/11/us-armys-precision-strike-missile-gets-green-light-for-development-readies-for-big-test/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[54] Igor Rozin, “The Latest News on the T-14 ‘Armata’ Tank,” Russia Beyond, February 17, 2022, https://www.rbth.com/science-and-tech/334776-latest-news-on-t-14 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[55] Brent M. Eastwood, “Armored Legends: The 3 Best Tanks on Earth, Ranked,” 1945, November 9, 2021, https://www.19fortyfive.com/2021/11/armored-legends-the-3-best-tanks-on-earth-ranked/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[56] Amanda Macias, “At Least 13 Countries Are Interested in Buying a Russian Missile System Instead of Platforms Made by US Companies, Despite the Threat of Sanctions,” CNBC, updated November 15, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/countries-interested-in-buying-russian-missile-system-despite-us-sanction-threats.html (accessed June 25, 2022).

[57] Headquarters, U.S. Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-15.

[58] U.S. Army, Acquisition Support Center, “Abrams Main Battle Tank,” updated March 31, 2022, https://asc.army.mil/web/portfolio-item/gcs-m1-abrams-main-battle-tank/ (accessed June 26, 2022).

[59] Capt. Sean Minton, “US Army Equips First Unit with Modernized Bradley,” U.S. Army, April 23, 2022, https://www.army.mil/article/255980/us_army_equips_first_unit_with_modernized_bradley (accessed June 27, 2022).

[60] Table 5, “ABCT Allocations,” in Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress No. R44229, April 5, 2016, p. 13, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R44229.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[61] Jen Judson, “US Army Readies Request for Prototype Designs of Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle,” Defense News, April 1, 2022, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2022/04/01/us-army-readies-request-for-prototype-designs-of-optionally-manned-fighting-vehicle/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[62] Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress No. R45519, updated December 28, 2021, pp. 13, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R45519.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[63] Matthew Cox, “Army Studying Whether M1 Tank Replacement Should Be Driver-Optional,” Military.com, September 4, 2019, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/04/army-studying-whether-m1-tank-replacement-should-be-driver-optional.html (accessed June 25, 2022).

[64] U.S. Army, Acquisition Support Center, “Abrams Main Battle Tank.”

[65] Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV),” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. IF11741, updated May 25, 2022, https://sgp.fas.org/crs/weapons/IF11741.pdf (accessed June 25, 2022).

[66] Jen Judson, “US Army’s Newest Tracked Vehicle Will Undergo Initial Operational Test in Early 2022,” Defense News, March 1, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/03/01/us-armys-newest-tracked-vehicle-will-undergo-initial-operational-test-in-early-2022/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[67] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 2023 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2033A: Procurement of W&TCV, Army / BA 01: Tracked Combat Vehicles / BSA 10: Tracked Combat Vehicles, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 2944G80819 / Armored Multi Purpose Vehicle (AMPV),” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Army, Justification Book of Procurement of W&TCV, Army, April 2022, p. 1, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Procurement/WTCV_ARMY_II.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[68] Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-11.

[69] Table 6, “SBCT Allocations,” in Feickert, “The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker: Background and Issues for Congress,” p. 13.

[70] Kyle Rempfer, “New Upgunned Stryker Arrives in Europe,” Army Times, December 19, 2017, https://www.armytimes.com/news/2017/12/19/new-upgunned-stryker-arrives-in-europe/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[71] Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Army Reassures Anxious Industry over Stryker Cannon Competition,” Breaking Defense, June 17, 2020, https://breakingdefense.com/2020/06/army-rebuffs-anxiety-over-stryker-cannon-competition/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[72] Jen Judson, “US Army Puts Stryker’s New 30mm Cannon to the Test,” Defense News, October 12, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/10/12/us-army-puts-strykers-new-30mm-cannon-to-the-test/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[73] Miranda Paige, “Fort Carson Soldiers First in U.S. Army to Test-Fire Javelin Missiles with Stryker Mount System,” KKTV 11 News [Colorado Springs, Colorado], April 28, 2022, https://www.kktv.com/2022/04/29/fort-carson-soldiers-first-us-army-test-fire-javelin-missiles-with-stryker-mount-system/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[74] Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-1. Emphasis in original.

[75] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 23 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2035A: Other Procurement, Army / BA 01: Tactical and Support Vehicles / BSA 10: Tactical Vehicles, P-40 Line Item Number / Title: 5600D15603 / Joint Light Tactical Vehicle,” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, Army, Justification Book Volume 1 of 3, Other Procurement, Army, Tactical and Support Vehicles, Budget Activity 1, May 2021, p. 47, and Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 2022 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2035A: Other Procurement, Army / BA 01: Tactical and Support Vehicles / BSA 10: Tactical Vehicles, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 5731D15610 / JOINT LIGHT TACTICAL VEHICLE FAMILY OF VEHICLES,” in ibid., p. 50, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2022/Base%20Budget/Procurement/OPA_BA_1_FY_2022_PB_Other_Procurement_BA1_Tactical_and_Support_Vehicles.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[76] Procurement objective of 49,099 minus already procured JLTV (5,426) = 43,673, and 43,673/1,528 = 28.5 years.

[77] Jen Judson, “US Army to Award Production Contract for Light Tank this Summer,” Defense News, March 11, 2022, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2022/03/11/us-army-to-award-production-contract-for-light-tank-this-summer/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[78] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 23 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2035A: Other Procurement, Army / BA 01: Tactical and Support Vehicles / BSA 10: Tactical Vehicles, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 3484D15501 / Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMV),” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Army, Justification Book Volume 1 of 3, Other Procurement, Army, Tactical and Support Vehicles, Budget Activity 1, April 2022, p. 39, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Procurement/OPA_BA1_Tactical_Support_Vehicles.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[79] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 23 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2031A: Aircraft Procurement, Army / BA 01: Aircraft / BSA 20: Rotary, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 6771AA0005 / UH-60 Blackhawk M Model (MYP),” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Army, Justification Book of Aircraft Procurement, Army, April 2022, p. 36, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Procurement/ACFT_Army.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[80] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 23 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2031A: Aircraft Procurement, Army / BA 01: Aircraft / BSA 20: Rotary, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 6775A05101 / CH-47 Helicopter,” in ibid., pp. 57–58.

[81] Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 22 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2031A: Aircraft Procurement, Army / BA 01: Aircraft / BSA 20: Rotary, P-1 Line Item Number / Title: 5757A05111 / AH-64 Apache Block IIIA Reman,” in ibid., pp. 16–17, and Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 2023 Army, Appropriation / Budget Activity / Budget Sub Activity: 2031A: Aircraft Procurement, Army / BA 01: Aircraft / BSA 20: Rotary, P-1 Line Item Number 5840A05133 / AH-64 Apache Block IIIB New Build," in ibid., p. 32.

[82] Feickert, “The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker: Background and Issues for Congress,” pp. 1 and 14–15.

[83] “Gen. Mark Milley: The Biggest Security Challenges for the U.S.,” interview with General Mark A. Milley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Wall Street Journal, updated December 13, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/gen-mark-milley-the-biggest-security-challenges-for-the-u-s-11607824353 (accessed June 26, 2022).

[84] U.S. Army, “2019 U.S. Army Modernization Strategy: Investing in the Future,” pp. 1, 6, and 7, https://www.army.mil/e2/downloads/rv7/2019_army_modernization_strategy_final.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[85] Ibid., p. 3. See also ibid., pp. 6 and 7.

[87] Caitlin Kenney, “Army Delays IVAS Display Headset by a Year,” Defense One, October 19, 2021, https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2021/10/army-delays-ivas-display-headset-year/186217/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[88] Jen Judson, “First Short-Range Air Defense Systems Deploy to Europe,” Defense News, April 23, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2021/04/23/first-short-range-air-defense-systems-deploy-to-europe/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[89] U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Audit of Brigade Combat Team Readiness, November 18, 2019, p. 3, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Nov/20/2002214021/-1/-1/1/DODIG-2020-028.PDF (accessed June 26, 2022). See also “The Number One Priority: An Interview with Gen. Mark Milley,” Army Sustainment, Vol. 51, Issue 2 (April–June 2019), p. 10, https://alu.army.mil/alog/archive/PB700201902FULL.pdf (accessed July 28, 2022): “We need 66 percent of the regular Army and 33 percent of the National Guard and Army Reserve at the highest levels of readiness. Right now we’re around the range of the 40 percent mark. We have a ways to go, and we have to continue to press to keep improving. But if we keep going at the rates we’re going, I estimate that we will be at the objective levels sometime in the 2022 to 2023 time frame.”

[90] Email to the author from Headquarters, Department of the Army, Public Affairs Office, July 6, 2022.

[91] “Budget Activity 01: Operating Forces, Activity Group 11: Land Forces, Detail by Subactivity Group 111: Maneuver Units,” in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Volume 1, Operation and Maintenance, Army National Guard, Justification Book, April 2022, p. 32, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/OMNG_Vol_1.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[92] U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Estimates, Volume 1, Operation and Maintenance, Army, Justification of Estimates, April 2022, p. 5, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2023/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/OMA_Volume_1.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022); “Budget Activity 01: Operating Forces, Activity Group 11: Land Forces, Detail by Subactivity Group 111: Maneuver Units,” in ibid., p. 58; and “Budget Activity 01: Operating Forces, Activity Group 11: Land Forces, Detail by Subactivity Group 116: Aviation Assets,” in ibid., p. 122.

[93] U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, Volume 1, Operation and Maintenance, Army, Justification of Estimates, May 2021, p. 2, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2022/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/OMA_VOL_1_FY_2022_PB.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[94] Headquarters, Department of the Army, Army Regulation 350–50, “Combat Training Center Program,” May 2, 2018, p. 2, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN8650_AR350_50_Final.pdf (accessed June 26, 2022).

[95] U.S. Department of the Army, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller, FY 2023 President’s Budget Highlights, p. 17.

[96] Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s New Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model,” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. 11670, updated March 9, 2021, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11670 (accessed June 25, 2022).

[97] Meghann Myers, “1:3 Deployment-to-Dwell Goal Is Going to Depend on Demand from Combatant Commands,” Defense News, October 11, 2021, https://www.defensenews.com/news/your-army/2021/10/11/13-deployment-to-dwell-goal-is-going-to-depend-on-demand-from-combatant-commands/ (accessed June 25, 2022).

[98] Note that the first figures derive from an average BCT size of 4,500 and average division size of 15,000. The second set of numbers derives from the current average of around 3.5 BCTs per division and analysis of the structure of each Army division.

[99] Email to the author from Headquarters, Department of the Army, Public Affairs Office, July 6, 2022.

[100] See note 89, supra.

U.S. Army Modernization Table Citations

General Sources:

Program Sources:

M1A1/2 Abrams:

M2 Bradley:



AH-64D Apache:




CH-47D Chinook:

CH-47F Chinook:

MQ-1C Gray Eagle: