Overstretched and Underfunded: The Status of the US Military in the GWoT

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Virginia Tech

The events of 9-11 caused the US military to deploy across the globe in support of the Global War on Terror (GWoT) with the assurance it would receive the resources needed to fulfill those operations. As a subordinate arm of the government, the US military is entrusted to prosecute the policies of its civilian leadership provided they receive the required resources to do so. As this thesis demonstrates however, the military is struggling to reconcile how to deliver the goals of its civilian administration when it simultaneously fails to receive the resources needed to meet their demands.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is experiencing a stark increase in its deployments and combat operations. Unprecedented 'peacetime' use of Reserve and Guard forces and remarkable DoD personnel policies have stretched the military thin. Despite substantial military budget increases, the military fails to receive adequate funding for combat operations. Meanwhile, soldiers fail to receive the appropriate equipment needed to fight the emerging threats of the GWoT. The military continues to thin many of its own operations, increase the stress on its members, and over-work its equipment in order to meet the needs of its civilian government.

Three solutions exist: maintain the status quo, reduce the scope of the GWoT, or begin military funding on par with past wartime budgets. The status quo produced an overstretched/underfunded military. Threats to US security can not support a reduced GWoT. Therefore, the US should increase DoD end strength, increase GWoT funding, and accelerate weapons research and procurement.

US Military, Civil-Military Relations, Global War on Terror