Emboldened Enemies?

Rapidly declining US military readiness may spur an enemy to try to take advantage of the situation, acknowledged Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. Answering a reporter’s question at a May 24 Pentagon press conference, Welsh said he would “hope that before someone”—the reporter used the term “competitor”—”made that calculation that they would think very carefully about the risk associated with it, because it’s significant.” Previously, Welsh and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley have ringingly insisted that the United States would prevail in any new conflict, even with the budget sequester. But, “clearly, the longer we go through this situation where readiness is degrading, the greater the opportunity for someone to make that unwise decision,” said Welsh. Donley, at the same press conference, said the United States would, during this time of suppressed readiness, “continue to engage with allies and partners around the world to collaborate on international security matters” aimed at “deterring conflict where we can.” Many of these partners don’t suffer from the fiscal woes facing the United States, he said, and have different capabilities and “offer different real estate.” (Donley-Welsh transcript)