Defense experts are in the midst of a spirited debate over whether the U.S. military faces a readiness crisis. Pointing to recent deadly military aviation crashes and worrying data on training and equipment, some argue that seven years of sequestration under the 2011 Budget Control Act impaired the armed forces’ ability to execute their mission even as the United States’ involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has let up. Others contend that the readiness crisis is overblown, and that the armed forces’ more serious challenge is ensuring, through modernization and innovation, that foreign competitors do not overtake U.S. capabilities. With defense spending increased to $716 billion under the 2018 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, the parameters of the readiness debate are set to shift.
On November 2, Brookings convened a panel of experts to discuss the current readiness of the U.S. military. Following their conversation, panelists took audience questions.
PanelistMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and StrategyMara Karlin Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and TechnologyBrendan R. Stickles Federal Executive Fellow - Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution, Commander - U.S. Navy