Report - National Security Advisory Group

The U.S. Military: Under Strain and at Risk

| Jan. 25, 2006

Authors: Carter, Ashton B., William J. Perry, Madeleine K. Albright, Graham T. Allison, Samuel R. Berger, Wesley K. Clark, Thomas E. Donilon, Michele A. Flournoy, John D. Podesta, Susan E. Rice, John M. Shalikashvili, Wendy R. Sherman, Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall and James B. Steinberg. 


In the current debate over Iraq, there is an elephant in the room that few are willing to acknowledge. While the U.S. military has performed superbly in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, our ground forces are under enormous strain. This strain, if not soon relieved, will have highly corrosive and potentially long-term effects on the force.

We believe that the Bush administration has broken faith with the American soldier and Marine:

  • by failing to plan adequately for post-conflict operations in Iraq;
  • by failing to send enough forces to accomplish that mission at an acceptable level of risk; and
  • by failing to adequately equip and protect the young Americans they sent into harm’s way.

These failures have created a real risk of "breaking the force" -- a force that is critical to protecting and advancing our national interests, now and in the future. The American military deserves better. The American people deserve better. This paper is intended to sound a warning – to raise awareness about the state of our ground forces today and the very real risk that poses to our future security. This paper also proposes an action plan for restoring the health and vitality of the U.S. military. The administration has under discussion some of what is recommended here, but the actions actually being taken fall far short of what is required.

The full text of this document is available in the pdf below:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Carter, Ashton, William Perry, Madeleine Albright, Graham Allison, Samuel Berger, Wesley Clark, Thomas Donilon, Michele Flournoy, John Podesta, Susan Rice, John Shalikashvili, Wendy Sherman, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, and James Steinberg. “The U.S. Military: Under Strain and at Risk.” National Security Advisory Group, January 25, 2006.

The Authors

Ash Carter

Graham Allison headshot

Dr. Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall