The Defense Department defines readiness as the military’s ability to execute the national security strategy of the United States. By that standard, the Navy has continued to satisfy most of the maritime force requirements of combatant commanders. However, meeting those demands in the face of a shrinking fleet has resulted in deferred maintenance, aging ships, and worn out personnel. Without significant changes to the fleet’s size, operational tempo (OPTEMPO), or maintenance budget, the Navy will be at risk of suffering a precipitous drop in readiness in the years to come.
The policy of the United States and its close allies in the South China Sea has failed. Repeated statements of limited interest accompanied by occasional ship and aircraft passages have failed to prevent Beijing’s program of island creation, nor have they meaningfully forestalled China’s quest for military dominance in the region.
What should the Trump administration do about Beijing’s adventurism in the South China Sea? China is asserting sovereignty over some 80 percent of this strategic waterway and reinforcing its claim by maintaining by far the largest military, coastguard and maritime militia presence in the region.
What should the U.S. and its close allies do about China’s strategic expansion into the South China Sea
How solid are the assumptions underpinning American grand strategy? How valid are the key ideas that U.S. officials have about how the world works? Such assumptions represent the intellectual foundation upon which American statecraft rests. If the foundation is solid, American strategy has a decent chance of success. If the foundation is shaky, American strategy may collapse.
The U.S. defense community, as well as partners around the world, are searching for clues as to how President-elect Donald Trump will reshape the U.S. military. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to repeal the Budget Control Act (BCA), raise defense spending, and reverse declines in military readiness and capabilities. He proposed building a 350-ship Navy, returning Army active-duty end-strength to at least 540,000, increasing the Marine Corps to more than 200,000 personnel, and maintaining more than 1,200 combat-coded Air Force fighter aircraft. “Peace Through Strength” will require spending above the President’s FY 2017 budget request, which exceeds the BCA caps by more than $100 billion over the next five years.