Military Readiness

November 3, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 39
Is the Pentagon prepared for future threats?
By Christina L. Lyons


Seven sailors died when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Kazuhiro Nogi)
Seven sailors died when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off Japan's coast on June 17. Three other incidents this year involving Navy ships — as well as accidents involving Air Force fighter jets — have raised concerns about whether years of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq have impaired U.S. military readiness. (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Kazuhiro Nogi)

A series of Navy and Air Force accidents this year — reflecting strains on the armed forces from the nearly two-decade fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere — is raising pressing questions about whether the Pentagon can handle current conflicts and is ready for the next major confrontation. The United States is by far the world's most formidable military power, but some defense experts say the country needs more troops, planes and ships to confront the growing array of challenges posed by China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Others say that warnings of a readiness crisis are overblown but that the Pentagon needs to be smarter with the resources it has. Most analysts agree the military must improve training for conventional warfare while modernizing its technology as rivals hone their ability to fight in space and cyberspace. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has ordered the Pentagon to review the nation's nuclear arsenal, which the Obama administration had begun to upgrade in its final years in office. The Pentagon also is reviewing space defenses, as U.S. satellites become more susceptible to attack.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Defense Spending
Nov. 03, 2017  Military Readiness
Sep. 07, 2001  Bush's Defense Policy
Jul. 30, 1999  Defense Priorities
Sep. 29, 1989  Can Defense Contractors Survive Peace?
May 17, 1985  The Defense Economy
Apr. 16, 1982  Defense Spending Debate
Oct. 10, 1980  Defense Debate
Apr. 12, 1974  Peacetime Defense Spending
Sep. 24, 1969  Future of U.S. Defense Economy
Oct. 26, 1966  Defense Spending Management
Feb. 19, 1964  Arms Cutbacks and Economic Dislocation
Jun. 10, 1953  Defense Spending and Reorganization
Jan. 18, 1950  Civil Defense
Nov. 03, 1948  Atlantic Security and American Defense
Alliances and Security Agreements
Arms Control and Disarmament
Climate Change
Cold War
Computers and the Internet
Conflicts in Asia
Defense Budget
Defense Industry
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Emergency Preparedness
General Defense and National Security
General International Relations
Gulf War
International Law and Agreements
Iraq War
Middle East Conflicts
Military Bases
Military Training
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
Space Sciences and Exploration
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
U.S. at War: Afghanistan
U.S. at War: Cold War
U.S. at War: Iraq
U.S. at War: World War II
United Nations
War and Conflict
World War II