Short answer: Not so much!
It is difficult not to blame former President Obama for the state of military preparedness we have today; he was the Commander-in-Chief for the past 8 years. The Washington Times stated: “U.S. military decimated under Obama, ‘only marginally able’ to defend nation.”
Our military leaders, granted they might have ulterior funding motives, opine that we would be very hard-pressed today to engage in major conflict on two separate fronts. The present troop and equipment levels would be stretched, possibly past the breaking point, if we were to find ourselves involved on two battlefronts today.
Our military equipment has aged and the troops themselves have gotten older. Funding for the military has been reduced over these past eight years and it is tough to make do with too few troops and aging equipment on a single major battle front much less spread over two distinct fronts.
We have much the same in terms of potential adversaries although they may be a bit more emboldened since they see our state of affairs, too. North Korea is near the top of the list. China could become a problem and holds a significant amount of our worldwide debt. Russia sits watching us and our world issues. The ISIS-type situations continue to exist draining power.
The Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength” concluded: “The U.S. military is rapidly approaching a one-war-capable-force. So it is supposedly able to handle a major war and then having just a bit of residual capability to handle other minor crises that might pop up…but it is a far cry from being a two-war force.”
The past eight years were not kind to our military so far as funding. There is only so much tax-payer money to go around and the military was not an Obama favorite. He would claim, of course, to have kept the military strong, but there seems much opposing opinion by both civilian experts and military people in addition to the evidence itself.
President Trump has certainly showed himself to be in favor of a strong military but he will have the problem of limited taxpayer dollars to go in many different directions. It is shameful to bring politics into military preparedness, but that seems to be impossible to avoid. We as a country tend to build up military forces and equipment levels under Republican leadership and then permit it to deteriorate under Democrat leadership.
The ideal troop levels from the generals’ perspective would be a total of 50 combat brigades. We historically commit 21 combat brigades to one war. We currently have some 33 brigades total, if that many. If we were to find ourselves in two wars, we’d be far short of the desired 42 combat brigades and obviously would have no brigades in reserve should those be needed. That is a precarious position given the state of affairs in this world today.
Brigades cannot be manned and equipped and trained in the blink of an eye so the depletion that has occurred over the past years cannot be easily erased by an incoming President no matter how supportive of the military he or she might be. We do not, as voters, take these kinds of things into account as we should. These kinds of things in a political debate would have the press and the Dems in a rage overnight and that rage would last right on through the election. We all know it but these are the kinds of things one just doesn’t talk about except apparently in military studies and blogs.
President Obama did us and our military no favors while in office. A President Hillary Clinton would’ve done us no favors in the military sense if she had gained the Oval office. A Democrat-controlled Congress would’ve have been less-than-enthusiastic about defense spending increases. These things are real. They have been proved over and over again. These are the really IMPORTANT things. Without the ability to defend ourselves, we’d have no social programs to hand out this and that to all comers.
The world in which we live is not all nicey-nicey no matter how much we might hope for that. Without a strong military to act as a deterrent we would be toast. And yet, we seem to have to bang people on the head every so often to remind them of this reality. We are hated by many and it only takes one of the many to come after us in ways we’ve not even begun to think one country would do to another. We measure every other country by our own standards too often without taking into account that not all are like us.
Military preparedness is critical to our future. That is simply an unfortunate truth but it is one which cannot be ignored such as has been the case in the past eight years.