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Here’s How Bad The Military’s Capability Shortfalls Are, According To 1 Study

Department of Defense/Lance Cpl. Kolby Leger

Harold Hutchison Contributor
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The United States Navy and Marine Corps might not be able to carry out the missions that they need to in order to protect America, according to a new study.

In an annual assessment carried out by the Heritage Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., the Navy is short 100 ships and the Marine Corps needs to add at least six battalions of infantry, the Marine Corps Times reported Tuesday.

Pilots and students assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 conduct a max effort launch with 21 F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Nov. 24. The training allowed the unit to conduct a days-worth of flights in a single launch. (U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Brittney Vella)

The Marine Corps’ readiness was rated as “marginal” in the conservative think tank’s 2021 Index of Military Strength, as was the Navy’s, but the index sounded warnings about the latter.

“In the 1980s, the Navy had nearly 600 ships in the fleet and kept roughly 100 (17 percent) deployed at any one time. Today, the fleet numbers 300 ships, of which 92 (30.7 percent) are at sea or deployed,” the index stated.

In addition to the smaller fleet, the Navy has also seen serious maintenance issues arise, including the breakdown of the littoral combat ship USS Detroit, Defense News reported.

The Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (CV R33) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) perform a farewell steam pass to conclude Malabar 2020 in the Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Keenan Daniels)

The Marine Corps’ assessment would have been even worse had the index maintained the previous year’s call for 36 infantry battalions in the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Times noted.

The defense budget for fiscal year 2020 was $633.6 billion, the Heritage Foundation report stated. In 2016, the Department of Defense was accused of burying a study that revealed as much as $125 billion had been wasted over the previous five years, the British news agency Reuters reported.