America’s military has rapidly declined and is in need of a significant overhaul as shown by Heritage’s 2018 Index of Military Strength.

Two Heritage scholars, Dakota Wood and Tom Spoehr, are working on a project called Rebuilding America’s Military Power (RAMP), which will provide the concrete steps needed to get America’s military back on track.

RAMP will answer questions like:

  • What is the role of each branch of the military in the future?
  • What is the role of technology (AI, cyber, autonomous weapons) and conventional weaponry?
  • How does the positioning and deployment of forces around the world affect our readiness?
  • Beyond funding, what infrastructure will we need to achieve the growth and changes we propose?

RAMP will also keep in mind the long-term nature of changes to the military to understand what other areas the United States will need to meet future challenges.

Thank you for making this project possible.

What do you think are the top three needs of America’s military today?


Comments (60)

Paul - February 13, 2018

We need to make our politicians accountable. Simple, all elected officials must provide a credit score, say 700, in order to run for any office. Can you help with this? Our scores presently affect our insurance rates, employers decision to hire, ability to borrow and many other items that our official’s do not have to worry about. They need to be held accountable and if they are not, they cannot even run for an office. You will get substantial donations if we can get this through. Hopefully it does not take an act of congress.

Thanks, Paul

William Hume - February 16, 2018

One. An adequate supply of qualified recruits.
two. War-games conducted when ordinary communication channels are blocked.

James Rae - February 16, 2018

1. Maintain and update nuclear weapons.
2. Recruit and retain adequate forces.
3. Give more $ to defense programs and less to welfare programs.

gault peter - February 16, 2018


Dennis Eben - February 16, 2018

A dependable source of funds to purchase and maintain weapons.
A living wage for all military.
Stop using the military as a social engineering experiment.

JOE LAROCCA - February 16, 2018


GARY GARRISON - February 16, 2018

Keep the ‘warthog’, build less expensive attack jets, close at least some of our 750 bases, pay our troops a living wage and better housing for their on-base families and immediately stop bleeding dollars from the leaky Pentagon. Upgrade where possible and finally make da** sure our troops in the field have everything they need including shedding of Obama’s Rome’s.

Audrey Ricard - February 16, 2018

Provide weapon upgrades and do more to secure our power grids, etc.

Vic Lovell - February 16, 2018

I believe it is time to eliminate or GREATLY REDUCE our military forces in Europe. Then change the law to permit placing them on our borders as the European countries do. That would save untold dollars and be a boost to our economy since service members AND THEIR DEPENDENTS would spend money here rather than overseas.

MSGT Jimmie Hollis USAF/RET - February 16, 2018

As a retired USAF Master Sergeant, I think there are three things:
1. A credible and trustworthy Commander-in-Chief
2. Eliminate all the social engineering programs within the armed forces put in by liberal lawmakers and special interest
3. Ensure funding for R&D and appropriate pay for service men and women

Dale Kimball - February 16, 2018

More ships, More planes and more personal.

Richard Rogers - February 16, 2018

Require some military service via the draft for 18 to 23 years old; providing for higher education assistance after successfully completing the service.
Eliminate any “specialized treatment” of any social segment identification of a person.
Support with the best equipment and weapons.

Reinhold Schouweiler - February 16, 2018

I have noted last year that the Russians ordered at least one, or maybe two, of their newest submarines to a point off the coast of Louisiana to sit on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico with its listening device turned on, so that it (or they) could monitor radio signals from our military in that State as well as those in Florida for almost one month. So, that miserable African Muslim, O’bama, who was informed about it, decided arbitrarily to take no action in the matter and who also claimed that it was acceptable that they sit there for as long as they wanted.

My son is a Senior Ship’s Captain, who at the time, noticed them on sonar sitting on the bottom off our coast, but wasn’t permited to take any type of military action.

I am a U.S. Army Veteran, who did proudly catch two former Soviet agents and one other related agent in the former Soviet Union, whom I arranged to have cornered at a certain location apprehended and indicted out of their territory. (As a fluent quad-lingual German-American, I infiltrated them like water in a ditch, as I used to practice as a German teenager in East-German territory.)

Now, why can’t we curtail these clandestine activities of O’bama government friends in this country, as I once did overseas ?

A U.S. Army Veteran

Don Reichard - February 16, 2018

Why do we have redundancies within each branch? This adds more military expenses and waste! Why not have branches for the specific demographic that include all – Air, Land, Sea, Technology, Administration divisions Called The USA Military

John K Stone - February 16, 2018

Further research into dramatic weaponry, such as that labeled “Star Wars” and the development of an arsenal that will be able to destroy ICBMs.
Also, a program which demonstrates to the public at large the positives of learned traits of military service: comaraderie, leadership, dedication, etc.

Inar Morics - February 16, 2018

Biggest single problem is to eliminate or reduce the the waste and lack of accountability in military expenditures instead of adding on to an already bloated DOD budget.

Iris Maurer - February 16, 2018

I don’t know what the top 3 are, but I know that Christian chaplains need to be given back their rights to freely use and give out Bibles and Bible portions. We need to end the atheist persecution of our chaplains.

Paul Wolf - February 16, 2018

I’m not going to name three. The other posts have covered the required improvements. I would like to see more of, if not all of NASA’s budget used for defense. The times no longer afford all of that money being spent to circle astronauts 200 miles around the earth, year after year (getting there on Russian spacecraft). The U.S. needs to stay ahead of Russia and China in controlling the space above us. Controlling space will, without a doubt, become as important as it was to control the sea and then the sky.

Jack Bleacher - February 16, 2018

Two comments:
1. I would like to see the second item include the threat of an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse).
2. I would like to have the military stop being a place for social experiments. The military is far too important to venture into the social experimentation field. They should remain focused on their true purpose, the defense of the USA, and being the best fighting force on earth.

Marilyn S Mackey - February 16, 2018

Better pay.
Public support.
More adequate treatment after discharge or retirement, to include healthcare and job opportunities.

Todd Rissinger - February 16, 2018

One: Ability to share information more rapidly with our Coalition Partners
Two: Focus on Mission Based Interoperability and operational requirements to drive network enterprise build plans
Three: Ensure our military is adequately manned, funded, and trained to execute the global missions we ask them to support

BOBBY E. RICHARDSON - February 16, 2018


Andree Nippe - February 16, 2018


David Capito - February 16, 2018

The top need is to cut the waste and to reduce the budget. The military spends $611 billion dollars a year. More than next 8 nations combined. The second most important topic is to reduce government entitlements.

Esther Wolfson - February 16, 2018

Military equipped with modern weapons.
Good training.
Quit accusing our troops of killing civilians when it is impossible to determine if they are the enemy
Take care of our veterans.

SharonLarson - February 16, 2018

The military needs adequate modern equipment, training and support, including financial, to do their jobs.

David Rollinson - February 17, 2018

I to support our military 100%. The Pentagon corruption must stop. 800 million cannot be accounted for. What could that do for the military or our veterans. Wages in the military are a disgrace improve them.

Tom Lanners - February 17, 2018

1. Modernize our nuclear capabilities, including
2. Deploy an effective missile defense system.
3. Do whatever is necessary to protect our power grid from an electro magnetic attack.

Da Li - February 17, 2018

Space weapon will be very important for our USA, like aircraft carrier formation on the ocean, maybe develop some man drive and unmanned spacecraft formation to gain power controlling the space around the earth, of course, this is an innovative thinking, but our great American always have the innovation tradition.I know the largest rival of USA is P.R.China has been developing anti-satellite laser weapon, which is mainly researched and manufactured by Shanghai Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics in Shanghai China,

Philip DeVries - February 17, 2018

1. Establish who our real friends are and build together with them.
2. Stop thinking we need to always be the policing force of the world – leave that to the UN.
3. Have a stronger presence on the African continent in cooperation with the UN.

Ken Blanset - February 17, 2018

The positioning of troops around the world assumes the completion of a risk assessment and a strategic planning process to address the risks identified. However, the military has been slow to “right size”. What I mean by this is simply the right skill sets, in the right places, in the right quantities, with the optimum rank distributions to support a sustainable, credible force. An optimal force structure would be one that would deter. Within this activity is the assumption that tactical missions are properly defined and logically integrated. Historically, the right sizing approach has been an opportunity for improvement. This includes the social experiments that clearly do not add value to our right sizing. With a devastated military all the above is an incredibly difficult task. Every time there is a reduction in force talent is depleted which complicates the right sizing activity. History proves that right sizing is essential to having a credible deterrent. We have an incredibly talented military that is exhausted and worn out. We are in dire need of bullets, equipment, parts and dollars for training and right sizing activities.

Philip F Peterson Jr - February 17, 2018

For starters I am a draftee of the Vietnam Era War, so here goes;
from enlistment of good and proper recruits with skills, education, physical aptitude and mental stability for the mil-
itay, not culls

then up to date training with best of equipment necessary to do the job as
leaders world-wide.

and when finished with tour of duty the
best followup into civilian life, education,
training, mental and physical health, monies earned on job and/or disability,
then a honorable death w/burial, etc.

Philip F, Peterson Jr. US Army

Joe Monteleone - February 17, 2018

The previous comments cover the issues well. In answering the questions posed above and in the comments, will RAMP engage existing military and congressional planning efforts in its development? I’m curious about whether a project like RAMP results in effective change if it is developed independent of v. in cooperation with those in a position to create it.

Mike Dietrich - February 17, 2018

Tough mission-oriented training; OPTEMPO funding; upgrade/replace obsolete equipment

Jim Stephens - February 17, 2018

I have two sons who fly airplanes for the U.S. Navy. One is the back-seat guy in F/A 18 Super Hornets (he’s “Goose” from the movie Top Gun) and the other flies the C2 Greyhound cargo plane. (He’s in the squadron containing the plane that recently went down off the coast of Korea, while flying to the USS Ronald Reagan carrier. 3 on board died, 8 survived. I thank God he was not flying that aircraft on that day!) BOTH of these men tell me of all sorts of problems due to age of the aircraft, poor funding, lack of available parts, being stretched beyond the reasonable limits of men and machines, etc. That men and women like these must deal with poor equipment, is a disgrace! It is a certainty that all military branches face the same problems. President Trump is certainly on the correct path in his quest to rebuild our military infrastructure. Congress must do it’s part and provide funding. All that said, real accountability in eliminating waste and fraud in the military is essential. The lives of the people who serve and protect the country are at stake.

Sean LaBar - February 17, 2018

1. Less fancy weaponry and platforms- we need weapons and platforms that will work in today’s environment!
2. A revitalised and fully funded USCG- the USCG needs to be as deployable as that of China and Russia!
3. Give us R-E-A-L leaders- without the very best in command, what is the use of our military anyways?

Vic Lovell - February 17, 2018

I believe it is time to bring home all OR A LARGE MAJORITY of our armed forces in Europe. The law should be changed to allow these forces to be used as border security as is the case throughout Europe. This would save hundreds of thousands dollars each year and be a boost to our economy since these people and their dependent would be spend their money here rather than on the European economy.

william schmidt - February 17, 2018

Definitely, stop using the military as a social experiment. The USA should not be nation building or the world’s police force. The Pentagon knows more about military matters and what resources are needed, so I defer to them on what is needed to protect our country. With the provision, that pork barrels and politics do not cloud the judgement of what the Pentagon says is needed for our future defense.

David R. Campbell - February 17, 2018

Strong, principal leadership at the top. Elimination of the political agenda to remake the military into part of the social experiments of our times.

Gary Burkle - February 17, 2018

Stop social experiments and “political correctness” using our military.
Remove “Obama appointed” PC officers and non-cons.
Research and develop cutting-edge weapon systems.

James Sterling - February 17, 2018

Protect America from invasion , secure our countries heritage as protector of weak, and disassociate from politics as much as possible. MAGA

Camille Parra - February 17, 2018

Absolutely better pay for our military and their families. I have gone with my church to set up free pantry at Camp Pendelton and I see our Marines lined up before 7am with their wives and babies just to get basic food items and diapers. Contrast this with the image of the illegal dreamer families using food stamps to buy steak and high end items… and shopping for new clothes and toys when the welfare checks arrives. Our troops FIRST.

Timothy R. Buttner - February 17, 2018

Preparation for cyber attacks on our infrastructure is vital.
An able Navy is critical.
Border defense is n actual, real thing…

Thomas Crabtree - February 17, 2018

1. Concentrate on the readiness of core units.
2. Get the politicians (flag rank) out of the military and drastically reduce their number.
3. Make a major effort and command emphasis on drastically reducing the waste of military funds on things like the natural gas service station and provision of programs that do nothing but supply re-election points for some politician.

Dolores Duderstadt - February 17, 2018

Our military requires uninterrupted, continual funding so long term plans and needs can be seamlessly addressed for the protection of our country and citizens. Our military leaders should remain focused on known and potential threats, their jobs, responsibilities, and not allow the military to be politicized or used for demoralizing social experiments that undermine their basic mandate.

No shortcuts in training and pay raises that maintain a solid, decent, living wage. Our military readiness and success depend on our troops in all branches being prepared to respond in a heartbeat to any circumstance or event. This also includes providing them what they need, in a timely manner, to do their jobs and care for their families.

Our military should have the benefit of the latest technology and research for their protection and ours. Every ship, plane, tank, vehicle or weapon should be kept in a state of readiness or replaced with something better. They must have the tools and support needed to be successful.

Chris - February 17, 2018

Stop using the military as a police force so they can train properly for combat, recover from long deployments and re-engage with family and friends before being sent on deployment again.
Reduce the dependence of industry on military procurement.
Establish a mandatory 18 month term of service for all able bodied men and women so they can better appreciate and represent our military personnel

Martha - February 17, 2018

The latest most up to date equiptment is an absolute must!! Take the NAVY for example, with all of the collisions they’ve had leaving us to wonder “what’s going on here”. Then i read where the ships were not kept in tip top shape at all the maintenance was NOT done. This is unacceptable, period. Then while reading about a shooting and the type of guns that were used, the writer was saying that it was the same as used in the military . Then I read no that gun was one that shot multiple times and the same weapon our millitary used was not. It left me almost in tears for our men and women that are willing to give their lives while protecting our freedom. And our former president and Congress had so little concern for their lives but comgress gave themselves a raise in pay. That’s why I voted for my President Trump and I pray daily for my military and my president and leaders in Washington. We truly need to put God back in everything and for get Political correctness. Thank you

John Fittz - February 17, 2018

I believe there is significant waste and inefficient use of resources in the military, and we could modernize and RAMP our nation’s defense system(s) without spending more money (that we don’t have because of deficit spending. For our nation’s citizens to get behind RAMP, you need to work with Congress and the administration to get control of expenditures – $600 billion unaccounted for!

Randall - February 18, 2018

1. Eliminate waste.

2. Eliminate fraudulent contracts

3. Use the money saved to bring our military equipment back to a state of good repair and readiness.

jeff jones - February 18, 2018

To reduce the graft and corruption top down within thw military
Adopt better purchasing practices that are riddled with graft;perhaps outsource to outside purchasing pros
Develop better weapons ot hindered by the previously mentioned

Vickie Jackson - February 18, 2018

Top of the line equipment for boots on the ground, in the air and at sea!
Best education and training for all branches and increased pay and medical benefits support for all military branches (which will attract more recruits)
No more social engineering projects
Eliminate waste and fraud in spending with stiff penalties- get the best equipment to the forces in the field at all times!!!

Chris Jones - February 18, 2018

First pay our people a commenceret wage, not make our best live on Welfare hand out!!! Good safe housing.
Buy anything at cost, not there inflated pricing.
Make all leadership responseable for a budget, not bury billions of dollars of material in the ground to hide.
Most of all start training our people as warriors, not 4th graders. So frustrating watching all the wasted time and energy these guys put in, and Leadership fails them with nothing or very poor training.

William Carter Jr - February 18, 2018

retention and increased manning

increased money for O&M and training

force modernization thru either upgrades and/or new equipment
Bring back the Warthog!

Alan M Stevenson - February 18, 2018

1/ We’ve significantly turned the military payroll into a welfare program.
2/ Insist that recruiting programs are conducted seriously with an eye to the possibility of war.
3/ If all else fails … look out the window!
Alan M. Stevenson
Cdr., USN (Ret)

Barry Yuhas - February 18, 2018

1 Maintain/refurbish current inventory; Much of what is currently in use is at risk of failure due to overuse without proper maintenance.
2. Training of Army, Navy, AF and Marine combatants, You fight the way you train. With limited training, the risk is that coordination will fail in the time of need
3. Last but not least we must develop new Mil H/W, S/W, procedures, and techniques to push the boundary of what can be done on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. This task is to performed at a systems level, regardless of individual service prerogatives. Adversaries will attack at our weakest point. We must be prepared to fight the next war not re-fight the last one.

Arthur Williams - February 18, 2018

They need repair supplies and spare parts to repair the equipment and planes. Many times when I was in (’59 to 79) we had aircraft not combat ready for lack of parts.
From what I hear today it is still a major problem.

John Wier - February 18, 2018

Remove retired military from the Pentagon.
I have been on that team, and we have to many freeloaders hanging around. If they are that good at what they do they will work for private companies. Thats about half that team.
On equipment Let the field try the new stuff for a year then we let contracts on the bases of performance. Draft all 18 year olds for 2 year.

Evelyn I Braun - February 19, 2018

I cannot help but believe the morale of our service men and women has been crushed because of the anti Christian efforts of the past administration that are still being enforced! No Bible, no speaking of Christ, and Chaplins courtmartialed for daring to speak in public! Unacceptable!

Jerry W. Jones, CIA Ret. - February 19, 2018

Do not depend on a mercenary army like we have today. We need a citizen army of volunteers and draftees. Resurrect the draft and left everyone’s offspring serve. In today’s world it is the only way to instill patriotism and ensure that our citizenry, in the form of a trained reserve, can defend the homeland should war come to our shores. Technology alone will not save us.

Barbara Kinemond - February 24, 2018

I noticed you will not post my comment. T’would appear “you can’t handle the truth”. I will no longer renew my support.

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