United States Military Preparedness

Date of Graduation

Fall 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


In the past decade defense budgets have fallen to levels that now jeopardize the preparedness of the United States armed forces for combat. This thesis examines the nature, criteria, and inadequacies of America's military preparedness. In examining military preparedness, the thesis has found that military preparedness consists of five pillars: force structure, strategic mobility, ballistic missile defense, modernization and procurement, and operational readiness. The current budget plan fails to furnish the American armed forces with the resources to fund these pillars adequately, even to the extent necessary to support that current military strategy. This thesis has found that, due to the interdependence of each of the five pillars of military preparedness, tradeoffs from one to the other, forced by limited budgets, are full of risks, weakening U.S. military strength overall. Particularly troubling are tradeoffs between readiness to fight today and readiness for future conflicts. The thesis finds that the only solution is reversing the budget reductions. Without a realization of the dangers of low defense budgets, and a commitment to repairing that danger, the United States is at risk of failing to prepare for the security environment of the twenty-first century.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Kevin C McGowan