The strategic American military system for moving troops, weapons, and supplies over long distances has decayed significantly and needs rapid upgrading to be ready for any future war with China or Russia, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. A special task force on survivable logistics evaluated the military’s current airlift, sealift, and prepositioned equipment and supplies and found major problems with supporting forces during a “high-end” conflict. “Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not fought an adversary capable of the catastrophic disruption of military supply chains and deployment of personnel and materiel,” an unclassified summary of the report states. “As a result, the [joint logistics enterprise] has suffered neglect and chronic underfunding relative to other DoD priorities.” Additionally, the ability of strategic competitors to threaten military supply lines has increased with new and advanced weapons and missiles, as well as “gray zone” capabilities such as cyber attacks and space warfare. “Competitors and adversaries have already disrupted commercial logistics information technology systems,” the report said. “Military and commercial networks are at risk.” “Conflict against a strategic competitor will demand a dispersed and survivable logistics structure and robust IT systems capable of not only defending against cyber-attacks, but also safely sharing logistics information across military and commercial elements,” the report said. The task force concluded that a logistics system for the military that can survive a future war will be essential for continued American power projection and for readiness to deal with threats from China and Russia. “Without a demonstrably resilient and survivable logistics capability, U.S. deterrence will suffer and the ability of the U.S. military to operate globally will be at stake,” the report said. The report warned that American military readiness in recent decades “has severely decayed” as the result of budget cuts, misaligned funding priorities, a lack of incentives to protect the defense industrial base, and insufficient wargaming. The task force urged reversing course immediately to address one of the highest priorities of recently departed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who sought to rebuild military readiness in pursuit of more lethal forces. The 29-page report was made public in November and is the executive summary of a longer, classified study.
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