“The report notes that the United States now faces five rising challenges—China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and transnational terrorism—yet has fewer military forces than at any time since the end of World War II.”
The report of the National Defense Strategy Commission, released Wednesday, reaches conclusions with profound implications for U.S. national security. The report itself is a rarity for Washington, presenting bipartisan consensus that reflects hard-hitting views rather than watered-down, lowest-common-denominator mush.
In sixty-four pages of plain language, the commission paints an extraordinarily troubling picture of the state of U.S. national defenses, calling our present situation a “grave crisis” demanding “extraordinary urgency.” It’s a call we should heed.
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act authorized a commission to “examine and make recommendations with respect to the national defense strategy of the United States.” The commission members are all national security experts, half selected by Republican and half by Democrat leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. The bipartisan structure gives the commission’s findings particular weight and credence.
In general, the commissioners agree with the administration’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) published this in January 2018. The strategy focused largely on great power competition and stressed the importance of alliances, increasing readiness and achieving Pentagon reforms.
However, after identifying those areas of agreement, the report proceeds to describe some significant shortfalls with the strategy and the supporting resources and concepts. In a key passage, the commissioners express skepticism that the Defense Department “has the attendant plans, concepts and resources needed to meet the defense objectives established in the NDS.”