The Biden administration’s emerging fleet plan incorporates smaller ships and large numbers of unmanned systems, as proposed by many strategists, but high costs, production limitations, and congressional opposition may prevent full implementation.
Military forces include not just traditional services, but also the newly created Space Force, special operations forces, civilians, and contractors. In his final paper in a series on U.S. forces, Mark Cancian analyzes recent changes to these national security elements.
The Air Force continues to develop and procure next-generation aircraft to meet the demands of great power conflict. While fielding new aircraft has arrested the fleet’s increasing age, the Air Force is not buying enough new aircraft to sustain its force structure.
The Marine Corps begins a major restructuring to develop capabilities for great power conflict after two decades of conducting counterinsurgency ashore. However, many commentators worry that the restructuring will make the Marine Corps too narrowly focused.
Unlike the other services, the Navy has sought to grow significantly. However, its previous plan to reach 355 ships collapsed. A new plan incorporates smaller ships and large numbers of unmanned systems.