US military dwindling in strength: WSJ
The US military is not as strong as it wants to portray itself as being, with its forces losing impetus on all fronts.
The military of the United States is not what it used to be anymore, becoming a shell of what it once was amid the US notion that the army is unbeatable.
The Heritage Foundation's 2023 Index of US Military Strength shows that US hard power is dwindling in strength, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
According to Heritage, the US military is currently "weak" and "at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America's vital national interests," which should be heavily alarming for Washington, as it is showing dwindling military strength, down from "marginal" in 2021.
The index measures the strength of the military by measuring its ability to come on top in two major regional conflicts at once. Weakness has festered within the US military so much so that Washington's armed forces risk being unable to handle even a single major regional conflict, such as one in West Asia, while trying to quell decent to its policies elsewhere.
The dwindling power in question is mainly within the US Navy and the US Air Force.
The US Navy has been for over a decade falling short of the growth it needs, saying it needs to increase its fleet to 350 ships and add more unmanned platforms, but it has been unwaveringly missing every mark possible. The Navy's fleet has been steadily diminishing, under-delivering on ship deliveries by 10 a year on average over the past five years.
The US Navy's fleet only increased by five ships, from 291 to 296, between 2005 and 2020 as China, one of the US' biggest foes, saw a stark increase to 360 ships from 216.
The Air Force, on the other hand, is an entirely different story, garnering a "very weak" rating from the Heritage Foundation due to the aircraft aging quite a bit in addition to stagnant pilot training and retention on the Pentagon's end. These factors, as per the foundation, have led to the US having an Air Force that "would struggle greatly against a peer competitor."
In total, the United States has 942 combat-coded fighters, with only around two-thirds, 634, being mission-capable. The average age of fighter jets in the US Air Force is quite shocking, with A-10Cs having an average age of 41 years, F-15Cs having an average age of 38 years, and the F-16Cs, which comprise the majority of the Air Force's aircraft, having an average age of 32 years.
Meanwhile, dwindling numbers are dominating the Air Force, too, with Washington's fighter and bomber forces decreasing to around two-fifths of what the United States had four decades ago.
The country is very slowly, too slowly, replenishing its tarmacs. Despite needing F-35s, and needing them fast as its fleet of F-22's mission-capable rates is at roughly 50%, Washington has been slowing its acquisitions of its most modern fighter jet.
The Air Force has abandoned even the illusion that it is working toward an 80% aircraft readiness goal, Heritage said as the Air Force's munitions inventories would probably not even support a fight go on for more than a few weeks against the top dogs in the international arena, with replacements requiring between 24 to 36 months to arrive.
Not only is the US short on modern fighters and ammunition, but is also suffering from a shortage in personnel, namely higher pilots. The current generation of fighter pilots, "those who have been actively flying for the past seven years, has never experienced a healthy rate of operational flying," the report said.
Fighter pilots only spent some 10 hours a month in the air on average in 2021, which was surprisingly an increase from 2020's 8.7 hours a month, but still quite terrible, as the total number of hours staggers well under the minimum 200 hours in the air.
The Army is also struggling to stand on its feet, with a loss of $59 billion in purchasing power over the past four years due to inflation accompanied by no budget increases.
The US Army is also shrinking in terms of numbers, with the body being short on 20,000 soldiers thus far this year.