"The active component of the US military is two-thirds the size it should be, operates equipment that is older than should be the case and is burdened by readiness levels that are problematic," the Heritage Foundation said in its annual evaluation of the US defense apparatus.
The US defense structure is "still too small," according to retired US Marine Col. Dakota Wood, editor of the Heritage Foundation's "2019 Index of Military Strength."
On a rating scale of "very weak, weak, marginal, strong, very strong," the US military posture was given a "marginal" score.
"The 2019 Index concludes that the current US military force is likely capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict while also attending to various presence and engagement activities," the think tank said, "but that it would be very hard-pressed to do more and would certainly be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies."
Larger budgets won't necessarily make the US military more ready for war: "It is possible that a larger defense budget could be associated with less military capability if the money were allocated inappropriately or spent wastefully."
Nevertheless, the high costs of post-9/11 conflicts have cost US taxpayers a multi-trillion dollar fortune. One byproduct of the greater usage of the military after 9/11 has been a buildup of maintenance costs and a consequent decrease in aircraft carrier deployments in 2018, Sputnik News reported.