Military rated as 'weak' due to 'underfunding,' 'exceedingly poor discipline,' report

The Air Force is ranked as the weakest branch of the Armed Forces.
Paratroopers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division on an exercise
Paratroopers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division on an exercise
(Sgt. Cody Parsons / 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army)

The U.S. military is rated as weak relative to the force required to defend the country's interests worldwide and its power has decreased over the past year, a new Heritage Foundation report shows.

The weakest branch of the Armed Forces is the Air Force, which slipped two rankings over the past two years, falling from "marginal" in 2021 to "very weak" in 2023, according to the report released Tuesday.

The Air Force is short 650 pilots, the average age of fighter aircraft is 32 years and pilots are flying barely more than one time a week, the report by the Washington, D.C.-based conservative think thank. 

The Navy fell from being given a "marginal" ranking last year to a "weak" ranking this year as well.

The Army and the Marine Corps maintained their rankings from last year as "marginal" and "weak," respectively.

The report said that while Russia "remains the primary threat to American interests in Europe as well as the most pressing threat to the United States," China is the "most comprehensive threat the U.S. faces."

Heritage warned that the "military is at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests."

This is largely due to "years of sustained use, underfunding, poorly defined priorities, wildly shifting security policies, exceedingly poor discipline in program execution, and a profound lack of seriousness across the national security establishment even as threats to U.S. interests have surged," the report states.

The report comes as the military is facing significant recruiting challenges.