2017 Index of Military Strength
The United States maintains a military force primarily to protect the homeland from attack and to protect its interests abroad. There are secondary uses—for example, to assist civil authorities in times of disaster or to deter opponents from threatening America’s interests—but this force’s primary purpose is to make it possible for the U.S. to physically impose its will on an enemy when necessary.
Knowing how these three areas—operating environments, threats, and the posture of the U.S. military—change over time, given that such changes can have substantial implications for defense policies and investment, is very important.
Overall, the 2017 Index concludes that the current U.S. military force is capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict while also attending to various presence and engagement activities, but that it would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies. As currently postured, the U.S. military is only marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.