Defense Department / Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

In a move that has not decreased the number of military planes and helicopters crashing, Defense Secretary James Mattis has been discouraging the services from talking about how bad readiness is, leading the parent of at least one dead service member to call his arguments “a bunch of junk.”

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U.S. Navy photo

Washington is abuzz with talk that the U.S. military is increasingly hollow, and that its readiness is in crisis. American military readiness, defined as the ability of individual units in the armed forces to execute their assigned missions promptly and competently, is indeed uneven today, with some serious problems. A Department of Defense that downsized by more than a third after the Cold War ended, then spent fifteen years at war, and most recently also endured the budgetary shenanigans of sequestration and recurrent continuing resolutions, has indeed been through a lot. All would agree that the United States has asked a great deal of its soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, airwomen and their families, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard over in the Department of Homeland Security.

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