The U.S. military ain’t what it used to be. That’s the message of a new report from the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission, issued Wednesday.
The report warned that, if faced with more than one war to fight at once, the U.S. would face a crisis, as its military superiority has “eroded to a dangerous degree.” “[The U.S.] might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the report added.
The Trump administration issued a new National Defense Strategy this year and, while the commission agreed with its aims, it said there wasn’t enough urgency and the strategy “too often rests on questionable assumptions and weak analysis.”
“There is a strong fear of complacency, that people have become so used to the United States achieving what it wants in the world, to include militarily, that it isn’t heeding the warning signs,” one of the commissioners, former Pentagon official Kathleen Hicks, told the Washington Post.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. has not actually won a hot war as such since 1991 — the first Gulf War is indeed the country’s only clear victory since the Second World War.
According to Defense News, which saw the report ahead of publication, the document calls for the U.S. to become more competitive in “cyberspace” — any major war would probably involve cyber-attacks — and to urgently address the modernization of the country’s nuclear-weapons infrastructure.
The commission also recommended the declassification of secret parts of the National Defense Strategy, that cover operational challenges.
“We don’t think it’s a shock or surprise to our adversaries that we have these challenges,” Eric Edelman, a former ambassador who co-chaired the commission, told Defense News. “Part of the reason we have them is the adversaries have done things that impose them on us — for instance, the capabilities China has developed with anti-ship cruise and anti-ship ballistic missiles… Classifying this information, we think, complicates the debate without adding a lot of value.”