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Dakota L. Wood, who served America for two decades in the U.S. Marine Corps, is the Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation.
We place a lot of demands on our fine military, and the good news is—at home and in many places around the world—it’s meeting those demands.
News - Years - Combat - Operations - Need
Now the bad news: We’re wearing it out. After 17 years of continuous combat operations, it’s in desperate need of a rebuild.
To be sure, Congress recently provided some welcome additional funding. That money has enabled the services to make progress in reducing maintenance backlogs, replenishing depleted inventories of repair parts and munitions, and regaining some measure of readiness for larger-scale conventional operations.
Worry - Folks - Part - Forces - Nothing
The new worry, however, is that folks will think the hard part is over—that our forces are, or will soon be, where they need to be. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our military must overcome a generation of experience dealing with terrorist groups and non-state irregular forces, challenges that are dramatically different from what it’s faced in the past and may face again in the future: a larger-scale conventional war with a rival major power.
Counterinsurgency - Counter-terrorism - Security/stability - Missions - Years
Think about it. The sustained counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, security/stability, and train/advise/assist missions of the past 17 years haven’t required U.S. forces to deal with an enemy that possesses combat aircraft, a navy of any sort, armored formations, missiles, or even multiple-launch rocket artillery. In short, we’re out of practice.
Russia and China have these capabilities in large numbers. Worse, they’re rapidly improving them each year, augmenting them with unmanned systems, cyber warfare tools, space-based systems, robust conventional missile systems—and, let’s not forget, deep inventories of nuclear weapons.
Army - Handle - Units - Competency - Land
The Army is just now getting a handle on what it will take for its operational units to gain competency in major land operations. It has invested heavily in realistic...
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