U.S. Military Gaps in Funding and Personnel Need Addressing to Deter Global Aggression
(Source: Rand Corp.; issued May 07, 2019)
A significant gap exists between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities required to implement those policies successfully, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

The researchers recommend that to meet the challenges outlined in the National Defense Strategy, the Department of Defense would need to increase the readiness of U.S. forces to the stated service goals or beyond with 10 armored brigades, 45 U.S. Air Force and 35 U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps fighter squadrons, and supporting land, air and sea forces ready at all times.

“Modernizing its nuclear deterrent over the next several decades is likely to consume most of the recent increases in the U.S. defense budget,” said Timothy Bonds, lead author on the report and a senior fellow at RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. “The question, then, is how the United States should utilize the resources remaining to ensure that aggression that imperils U.S. interests in critical regions would fail while helping allies build the capacity to do more for their own and the collective defense.”

The report recommends prioritizing investments by their importance to the United States and its interests, the size and urgency of the gap between the capabilities required to achieve defense objectives and the current posture, readiness, and capabilities of U.S. forces, and the availability of realistic opportunities for the United States to close these gaps.

“In the event of a major war—such as a Russian attack on the Baltics, a resumption of full-scale warfighting on the Korean peninsula, or a U.S. decision to come to Taiwan's defense against China—posture and readiness will be the decisive factors,” Bonds said. “In addition to improving the posture and readiness of its regular forces, the DoD should improve the mobilization infrastructure to speed the activation of Guard and Reserve forces and the training capabilities needed to make all forces in the deployment pipeline ready.”

Other authors of “America's Strategy-Resource Mismatch: Addressing the Gaps Between U.S. National Strategy and Military Capacity,” are James Dobbins, Michael Mazarr, Michael J. Lostumbo, Michael Johnson, David A. Shlapak, Jeffrey Martini, Scott Boston, Cristina L. Garafola, John Gordon IV, Sonni Efron, Paul S. Steinberg, Yvonne K. Crane and Daniel M. Norton.

This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies and the defense Intelligence Community.


The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

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America's Strategy-Resource Mismatch: Addressing the Gaps Between U.S. National Strategy and Military Capacity
(Source: Rand Corp.; issued May 07, 2019)
Significant gaps exist in the ability of the United States and its allies to deter or defeat aggression that could threaten national interests. For example, NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania remain vulnerable to Russian invasion. South Korea is vulnerable to North Korea's artillery. China's neighbors — especially Taiwan — are vulnerable to coercion and aggression. Violent extremists continue to pose a threat in the Middle East. Solutions to these problems will take both money and time.

In this report, RAND researchers analyze the specific technological, doctrinal, and budgetary gaps between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities that would be required to implement those policies successfully.

Absent a change in administration policy or a new political consensus in favor of a defense buildup, there will not be enough resources to close the gap between stated U.S. aims and the military capabilities needed to achieve them.

This leaves the Trump administration and this Congress with some difficult choices.

The United States could decide to focus primarily on its own security, devoting to allies and partners only those forces and capabilities that could be easily spared. At the other end of the spectrum, the Trump administration could take the central role in defending U.S. allies against aggression by Russia, China, and other potential adversaries.

The hard-to-find middle ground would be to provide the military with sufficient capabilities to ensure that aggression that imperils U.S. interests in critical regions would fail while helping allies build the capacity to do more for their own and the collective defense.


Click here for the full report (233 PDF pages), on the Rand Corp. website.

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