U.S. dominance in the military realm:
Because of the dismal state of theRussian nuclear force and the robustnature of its U.S. counterpart, America’sstrategic nuclear deterrent is strongerrelative to the rest of the world than itwas at any time since the days of the U.S.nuclear monopoly in the late 1940s.
The United States has greater numbersof heavy bombers, advanced tacticalfighter aircraft, and aerial tankers thandoes the rest of the world combined.The U.S. military services have threeclasses of stealth aircraft alreadydeployed and three more in develop-ment; no other nation has even one onthe drawing board.
The U.S. Navy has more than twice thenumber of primary warships operatedby the Chinese and Russian naviescombined. The United States operates12 supercarriers; the only other largecarrier in the world is a decrepit ship inRussia. The U.S. Navy is the only navyin the world that is designed to regu-larly operate outside its own region.
The U.S. Army’s nearly 8,000 M-1Abrams tanks—the best armor in theworld—are more than the combinednumber of modern Chinese andRussian tanks.
The U.S. Marine Corps is the onlystanding heavy amphibious force inthe world.
Despite the post–Cold War cuts in theU.S. defense budget, the United Statesaccounts for about one-third of all militaryspending in the world. U.S. defense spendingis as much as the combined defense spendingof the next seven countries (Table 1). TheUnited States is spending about $300 billionper year. The next best militaries on the plan-et—those of our wealthy allies—spend only$20 billion to $40 billion a year and are afraidof falling so far behind U.S. forces that theywill no longer be able to operate with thoseforces. (The sums listed for Russia and Chinaare a bit misleading. The Russian military is adecrepit, hollow force, and the Chinese mili-tary is antiquated and modernizing onlyslowly.) The United States spends 19 timesthe combined amount spent by the “states of concern”—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan,Cuba, and North Korea.George W. Bush is correct when he citesgrowing problems with readiness in the mili-tary—shortages of spare parts and training,problems with recruitment and retention of personnel, and low morale among thetroops. Yet it is a leap of logic to concludefrom those “pockets of unreadiness” that themilitary needs a budget increase. This paperwill examine the causes of readiness prob-lems and how they could be solved withoutincreasing the defense budget; in fact,defense spending could even be reducedwhile improving readiness.According to a recent report by theCongressional Budget Office, if the UnitedStates expects its military to be able to wintwo wars in quick succession and performfrequent peacekeeping missions (the currentnational strategy), as well as modernize eachpiece of equipment on a one-for-one basis,another $51 billion would need to be addedto the $289 billion spent on defense in fiscalyear 2000.
Some of the press coverage of thestudy erroneously reported that the CBOconcluded that the military was “woefullyunderfunded,”
and many hawks will trum-pet the finding as an endorsement of whop-ping increases in defense spending. CBO wascriticized by the Department of Defense forthe questionable assumption that each pieceof equipment would be modernized on aone-for-one basis (the military does not planto do so because the new high-tech weaponshave greater combat power than did the oldequipment).
If the one-for-one standardwere relaxed, the disparity between the fund-ing needed to sustain a modernized militaryand the current budget for national defensewould be less than $51 billion.
However, thereport is probably correct that the military isoverextended—that is, given the currentnational strategy, the force cannot be mod-
Although the mili-tary has experi-enced shortages of personnel, spareparts, and train-ing, the “readinesscrisis” is largelyillusory.