The U.S. Army’s ground combat systems could soon be surpassed by technologies being developed by nations such as China and Russia, a report by a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service shows, Business Insider reports. There have been several cancelled billion-dollar plans to modernize the army’s ground combat systems over the last decade. The U.S. Army currently uses the main battle tanks, self-propelled artillery, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, and multiple launch rocket systems that were developed during the Cold War.
While the U.S. has refrained from spending on the modernization of these weapons systems, its prime global competitors, Russia and China, have been making it a priority to fund new weapons systems for their ground forces, leading many American experts to believe that the U.S. may soon lose its edge over these potential adversaries in warfare. The report by the Congressional Research Service says the following.
“Countries such as Russia and China are not only upgrading existing ground combat systems with new and effective survivability and lethality features but are also developing entirely new ground combat systems for domestic use and possible export.”
The report warns of a potential scenario where, given how the U.S. had “no new ground combat vehicles under development” and considering how such developments usually take decades to complete, one or more developments and upgrades by foreign military on their ground combat system could surpass its U.S. counterpart.
Military experts have continually pointed out that the defense spending reductions brought about by the Budget Control Act of 2011 have forced the military to focus on current readiness over the other obvious priority, the modernization and upgrade of its weapons systems. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley had testified before the Senate Committee on Armed Services in September.
“Predictable and consistent funding is absolutely essential for the Army to build and sustain current readiness and progress toward a more modern, capable future force. We simply cannot sustain readiness or build the Army our nation needs in the future if we return to sequestration-level funding in fiscal year 2018.”
Milley further added the following.
“While the Army is reducing end-strength, we made a deliberate decision to prioritize readiness, reduce infrastructure maintenance, and decrease funding for modernization. These choices devote resources to today’s fight, but decrease investments for future modernization and infrastructure readiness, and emergent demands.”
The United States spent $598 billion on defense last year.
The report by the Congressional Research Service compared weapons systems being developed by all the military powers of the world, including the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K, Germany, and Israel, in the process pointing out how far behind the U.S. was in terms of weapons systems modernization. One section of the report gave examples of the Armata T-14 tank being developed by the Russians and the ZTZ-96 main battle tank recently introduced by the Chinese, and how advanced they were compared to the U.S. tanks.
“These tanks are employing larger caliber main guns than their Western counterparts, theoretically offering greater range and armor penetration.”
President Trump signed an executive order on Friday for rebuilding the military, according to Trump, “to build new planes, new ships, tools and resources.” Trump justified his decision with the following statement.
“As we prepare our budget request for Congress, our military strength will be questioned by no one and neither will our dedication to peace. And we do want peace.”
Also on Friday, General James Mattis was sworn in as Trump’s defense secretary. Trump had the following to say about his new defense secretary.
“I want to extend a very special congratulations to a great man and that’s Secretary Mattis. I think he’s going to lead us so brilliantly. He’s a tremendous solider, always has been. He’s a general’s general.”
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