In recent decades, the Soviet empire fell, the Chinese became more interested in dollars than territory and other potential U.S. adversaries were caught up in their own problems.
Then came the Middle East conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which hardly were superpowers.
But now, seven-plus years into the administration of President Obama, a congressional report warns of a “low but growing” threat the nation will be plunged into “war with another great power,” according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The assessment comes in a Congressional Research Service report titled “How Big Should the Army Be? Considerations for Congress.”
The report comes as two proposals are under consideration in Congress. One in the House would set the Army level at 480,000 soldiers at the end of Fiscal Year 2017, an increase of 5,000 over the current level.
The other plan, in the Senate, is the one Obama now wants, and it would set the level at 460,000, a decrease of 15,000.
A commentary by scientist Steve Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists reasons that the correct size of the military branch depends on, “among other things, what the Army is for in the first place, what resources are available, what competing priorities need attention, and what changes in the threat environment can be foreseen.”
The congressional report said Congress’ “decision about the size of the Army for FY2017 will likely hinge on how it reconciles competing interpretations and judgments about key issues, including”:
- The current and emerging strategic environment;
- The role of the Army in advancing national security interests within that environment;
- How any additional end strength would be used by the Army;
- The results of a congressional directed study on the future of the Army; and
- The trade-offs associated with various options to fund additional strength in the context of budgetary constraints.
The report notes the “divergence” between the proposals “reflects differing assessments of a variety of factors, including operational tempo, budgetary constraints and, most frequently, readiness.”
“The Department of Defense defines readiness as ‘the ability of military forces to fight and meet the demands of assigned missions.’”
For the Army, readiness involves personnel, equipment availability, equipment readiness and training, and “the unit’s overall readiness assessment – its ability to accomplish its core functions, provided its intended capabilities, and carry out its mission essential tasks – is determined by the lowest rating of these four areas.”
The report cites “revisionist” state threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and China, as well as from “violent extremist organizations.”
The assessment calls the VEO threats “immediate” because “they are currently destabilizing the Middle East.”
But it also notes, “for the first time in several decades … the probability that the U.S. may find itself at war with another great power [is] ‘low but growing.’”