The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, isn't much of a state anymore.
The Iraqi military have retaken the city of Mosul. Kurdish forces are pushing into Raqqa, Syria... both with help and direction of the U.S. military.
Rather than cheering the possible defeat of this brutal and violent terrorist organization, I'm worried.
Not about ISIS, in particular, but about the state of the U.S. military. It's taken us far too long to earn these victories.
I've been speaking with military experts and researching the U.S. defense industry for months. What I found was surprising...
Americans think that we have the strongest military in the world. Taxpayers hear headlines about the billions we spend on defense and assume it's well-funded and powerful.
Over the last decade, our military has starved in the face of shoestring budgets and government shutdowns. And it's happened at the exact time that rising threats and global tensions mean we should drastically increase our spending.
The result is a hollow shell of a military. Consider that...
- Only three of 58 army brigade combat teams can "fight tonight."
- Fewer than half of Navy aircraft can fly because they are grounded for maintenance.
- Less than half of the Air Force is ready to be deployed quickly.
- Our troop levels are the lowest they've been since World War II.
Two problems have hampered our fighting strength.
First, President Obama intentionally reduced military spending. Second, the disastrous negotiation over the 2011 debt ceiling led to sequestration – forced spending cuts that ate our military from the inside out.
Last month, Secretary of Defense and former General James "Mad Dog" Mattis told Congress, "No enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration."
On a long-term chart, it looks like a little dip. But cutting nearly $100 billion in spending with sequestration can be disastrous.
It's had a drastic effect on military readiness.
After the Cold War, the U.S. military adopted a standard that it should be prepared to handle two "major regional contingency" military situations. In other words, the military should be able to handle two large engagements at any time to prevent an adversary from taking advantage of one war to start another.
That level of protection is gone. By 2012, the standard had changed. Now the goal is to handle one conflict, while still being able to "impose unacceptable costs" on another.
You could call it the "1.5 Standard."
I don't like the sound of that.
Independent analysis has determined that the U.S. could not deter a Russian assault on a Baltic nation. And if China wanted to capture Taiwan today, it could completely dominate the South China Sea.
In fact, given the state of the world today we need more military capability than ever.
We don't have to prepare for a single, defined threat like the old days. We can't focus on a singular enemy like Communist Russia or Nazis. Rather, threats come from all angles. Defense experts call it a "multipolar" world.
We've got to prep for global superpowers like Russia and China, insurgent warfare from rag-tag terrorist organizations, rising nuclear powers like North Korea and Iran, cyber warfare, missile defense, homeland security, bioterrorism, and more.
This is a world that requires greater effort to stay safe. Not less.
Trump has proposed a budget increase of 3%. That's not enough. Military hawks like Mattis suggest spending needs to ramp up from the proposed $603 billion to $640 billion by 2018.
That number comes from the military experts' opinions of figuring out how strong the military needs to be and then working backwards to calculate what that would cost – called a force assessment.
We currently do the opposite. Government bean counters figure out what they're willing to spend and then stick us with the military those numbers afford.
When it comes to the defense of our country, that's backwards.
I needed to share this information with Retirement Millionaire Daily readers for three reasons...
First, many people just don't know this. We assume we have a dominant military but recent changes have taken that away from us. If the public isn't informed of the problem, our elected officials won't fix it.
Second, we've enjoyed having a geographically protected homeland for over 240 years, but we like to be prepared for any contingency. If you're a subscriber to my Retirement Millionaire newsletter, you're entitled to free access to my book The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual.
It's not for paranoid doomsday preppers. Instead, it's a practical plan for how to prepare yourself and your family for the unexpected. It includes things like the most calorically dense foods you can store, how to secure all your personal documents, and a $20 device that can scare away any burglar.
Finally, we're in the business of building wealth. As the weakness of the military becomes better known, the inevitable rise of spending will lead to a huge wealth-creation opportunity for those who invest wisely.
If military conflicts escalate, certain stocks could soar overnight.
Again, for subscribers to Retirement Millionaire, I've collected my top defense investments in a report titled "The Five Investments You Must Buy Now to Build Your War Chest." It includes the defense contractor poised to dominate aerial warfare, the company with a monopoly on building 10 new "floating fortresses," and a small company with algorithms that appear in over 300 Department of Defense weapons programs.
If you don't already subscribe to Retirement Millionaire, you can find out more by clicking here.
In the meantime, the U.S. is at a crossroads between maintaining its role as a world superpower, or fading into the rest of the pack. Slow-burning stories like these don't make the nightly news, but they affect all our lives just the same.
Are you living a millionaire lifestyle? Our free daily letter is your guidebook:
What We're Reading...
- The U.S. just completed another successful THAAD missile defense test.
- Something different: Drink coffee... live longer.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
July 12, 2017