In a Volatile Adversarial World, the Status of America’s Military Force and Military Manufacturing Readiness: Concerns?

Very fortunately, and a blessing for us all, we live within a free and sovereign land.  A great nation. But one, today, which exists in a world of political and literal turmoil.  And one which seems to be more unsettled and potentially more aggressive with each day that passes.  Aside from our own philosophical/political difficulties and concerns right here at home, particularly within these past three years, nations who might challenge us or our allies militarily seem to be either increasing or hardening in their verbal provocations (North Korea comes to mind). Given the uneasiness that seems to be building out there beyond our nation (gone is the relative past safety afforded by two huge oceans), it seems reasonable to access our own military readiness should we, or our allies, be challenged (Taiwan comes to mind), not to mention the recent threat that China may well establish a military training site within fellow traveler, Communist Cuba. An undesirable move by China, which would certainly pose a potential direct challenge to our nation, from a proximity never before anticipated.

So then, from the standpoint of, first, our military munitions and armaments manufacturing capability, things have changed considerably in that arena. “Over the past 30-years, the U.S. defense industry has consolidated from 51 to 5 aerospace and prime defense contractors. This mismatch has led to multiyear delays for weapons and munitions deliveries to our forces and allies.” Be reminded that, over the last one-year-plus, our military weapons and munitions inventories have been drawn down considerably, due to the continuing multimillion-dollar demands for such to help defend Ukraine from the on-going Russian invasion. The only way to re-build and expand the necessary availability and prominence of our domestic military manufacturing capacity is through increased federal government (DoD)-funded orders.  Sadly, a magic wand won’t do it. Rather, considerable and sustained federal dollars are necessary to trigger expanded domestic manufacturing capability, moving rapidly from a ‘Just in Time’ supply status to the far more desirable ‘Just in Case’ reality (stockpiling).

Although we are not currently dealing with direct military conflict, the potential on the horizon is beyond obvious.  Meaning that this is the time to step up our industrial capability, not after we become involved directly or indirectly (Taiwan?) in some form of military conflict. Sadly, to date, there sems to be no such meaningful move forward in this regard, due to the lack of any apparent urgency, within either Congress or the administration, to add substantial federal monies to expand our military-industrial complex.  Short-sighted thinking for the uncertainties of our national security, to be sure.

The other side of the military readiness and capability equation is the status of our military manpower. Personnel-wise, our military branches are facing a difficult recruiting environment, at least some of which may possibly be concern about the existing caliber witnessed, by potential recruits and influential parents, with our current senior uniformed and civilian military leadership which could be giving our younger men and women pause.  And for some of that concern, we can go all the way back to that sudden and disastrous, purely-politically-driven, Biden-ordered crash withdrawal from Afghanistan, at the cost of U.S. lives and billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment and facilities, instantly left behind and immediately falling into the grateful hands of the Taliban, and heaven only knows who else among our known enemies. One of military history’s dumbest, costliest, and certainly international image/credibility weakening moves.

There are, of course, as always, other reasons for enlistment hesitation or outright denial, beyond perceived leadership issues. Such now include: On-post military housing conditions (‘mold’); “poor pay” for lower ranks (compared now with Covid-produced civilian pay increases); and among others, concerns about mandated ‘woke’ presentations during training and schooling, the latter said to be at least one of the factors within some military-veteran families, who may now be actually discouraging their children from enlisting. The reason that last factor is so critical is that “nearly 80% of new recruits have at least one family member with a (military) service record.”  A key factor once providing encouragement to join, now transformed into active discouragement among too many families. And then, there is the lingering overall negative impact on recruiting in recent years caused by the pandemic: “You can’t underestimate the fact that we didn’t have recruiters on college and high school campuses for two years,” said Katherine Kuzminski, head of the Military Veterans and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security (bi-partisan security think-tank).

It’s important to note that America’s Army missed its recruiting goals by an estimated 15,000 soldiers (25%) last fiscal year (ends each September), with the likelihood of missing the 2023 goal as well. Other branches have reportedly also seen similar difficulties, but the others are said to have made their numbers by ‘the slimmest of margins.’ But looking ahead, reportedly, other than the Marines (said likely to make their 2023 goal), the Navy, Air Force, and Army are all projecting to miss their recruit numbers for fiscal year 2023. Meanwhile, “Moscow has announced it will increase its military to 1.5-million personnel by 2006, and as China continues to enhance its Navy, which is already larger than America’s.”

And regarding presumed eligibility for military service among young American men and women, it’s hard to believe, but, today, a shocking 80% of our 17-24-year-olds are said to be ‘unfit for military service.’ The COVID period, with schools closed and businesses making employee adjustments (work-from-home) or cutting back on numbers, has no doubt added to the severity of that ‘unfit’ number.  Key reasons for ineligibility are reported to be: Obesity – educational deficits – criminal record – drug use – mental health issues. The obesity rate, alone, among those otherwise eligible, climbed to 22% during the pandemic!  These last two years, for the Army, especially, have reportedly proven to be the worst times for successful recruiting, since America transitioned to an all-volunteer military force 50-years ago (1973).

To its great credit, among other initiatives, the United States Army has come up with, in my view, a brilliant plan to potentially retain a percentage of those young Americans.  Re-training and thus retaining recruits initially denied entry for two specific reasons (weight & scores), the Army has created a pre-boot-camp program, known officially as The Future Soldier Preparation Course, for those young men and women initially excluded due to qualification test scores too low and/or body weight too high.  The first camp, three-weeks in duration, was set-up last year at Fort Jackson (Columbia, SC), an already prominent Army regular boot-camp location. And it has become so successful at elevating test scores and lowering weight to acceptable standards, that the Army has now set up additional pre-boot-camp program locations within some other training installations.  That has proven to be a winning formula for eventually being able to accept young men and women, initially rejected, but who really wanted to serve within our Army.  They will undoubtedly make even more strongly motivated soldiers due to their extra effort to meet standards and serve our nation.  Other branches, if/when facing similar recruiting difficulties, may now be eyeing the Army’s successful ‘second chance’ initiative.

Beyond this innovative step, our military branches simply must do whatever is necessary, without any major reduction in existing standards, to increase recruitment successes.  Not only to hopefully expand overall branch head-count, but also to replace those military members who inevitably fulfill their commitment and leave service and/or retire each year. Reportedly, about 200,000 men/women leave the overall military for the return to civilian life each year. That’s a lot of recruiting replacement work to be done, let alone covering the needed expansion of military service numbers.

So, then, bottom line, we must expand the number and productivity of the U.S. military industrial base in order to achieve the ‘Just in Case’ equipment and munitions status, so critical to adequate homeland wartime preparation. And the same readiness requirement pertains, as well, to the proper (hopefully expanded) number of men and women serving within our military branches, along with (very important) ample funding for personnel training, especially in key positions (pilots, among others).  Critically important training and increasingly more modern equipment for what may prove to be, in whole or in part, a more technically-dominated way and form of combat.

The main current hindrance for achieving both vital defense initiatives and readiness (equipment and personnel) is, again, federal funding.  Regrettably, and vulnerably, the budgeted number for our military, going forward, is reportedly actually a decrease, after allowing for the negative impact of inflation. This means that “U.S. spending on the already stretched military could fall below 3% of the economy for the first time since the post-Cold War in the late 1990’s.”  As we’ve noted earlier, and as the WSJ Editors echo: “Companies won’t pour investment into, say, expanding shipyards, when Washington is announcing that defense spending is falling.”  As such, concludes the “Debt Deal” editorial: “The (House) Speaker’s line that the deal ‘fully’ funds national defense is wrong and makes it harder to tell Americans the truth, which is that the U.S. is drifting into a dangerous period with a vulnerable military.”

Whereas ‘Just in Time’ thinking may be more cost efficient for planners, it leaves us vulnerable and playing catch-up after the fight has already begun.  We need a major shift in preparation thinking, turning instead to ‘Just in Case’ planning and executing.  Planning on today’s more likely basis of ‘what if,’ rather than, wow, we didn’t see that coming!  ‘Just in Case’ thinking, as already stressed, “puts a premium on stockpiling weapons and ammunition.”

And as the dean within the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, article herein quoted, author Andrew A. Michta, concludes his important insights, emphasizing the need for preparedness: “When fighting a near-peer or peer adversary, the U.S. will need to have excess defense industrial capacity to respond, should its logistical chain suffer from enemy attacks.”  And these related insights from this qualified expert: “The American military lacks the resources to contend with the mobilizing Russian and Chinese forces. Rebuilding its defense industrial base should be (America’s) top priority. No amount of strategic finessing can substitute for the real hard power the U.S. military must bring to the fight.”

With too many of our current administration’s top heads now buried in the quick sand of far less vital national ‘issues,’ like hocus-pocus ‘climate change,’ and the elite Progressive mind-snaring indoctrination of DEI, CRT, etc., with the huge federal spending supporting both tracks. Climate change becomes of zero prominence should military hostilities break-out between the U.S. and any of a number of potential opponents.  We simply must be shifting those massive dollars, or a very large share, to expanding our military and its manufacturing base, so that there can be no question, among potential enemies, as to the defensive strength and capabilities of America’s military.  To think, do, and spend otherwise, is the ultimate in naivety, with apparently totally inadequate concern for the stability, protection, and future of America First.

We’re just observed the anniversary of our historic and treasured Independence.  Within our current volatile world, there simply can be nothing more immediately important to Americans (and to our national leaders) than being prepared, with known dominating force, so that we may convincingly maintain our vital national sovereignty and individual freedoms.  As we’ve been taught and witnessed through the decades, the most compelling defense is a comprehensive, well-known, and widely respected offensive capability!  Washington owes it to the American people to ensure that such is continually the case.


(Fact Sources: Reduction in U.S. military manufacturing capability, along with many of the remaining quotes in this post via The Wall Street Journal, Andrew A. Michta, 6-24-23; also:; Veterans discouraging family members from joining via, John Hugh Demastri, 7-1-23; Downside of the debt deal with regard to military funding via The Wall Street Journal, Editors, 6-3-23.).