The United States desperately needs to modernize its military forces and the industrial base that supports it. Great power competition has returned as a driving force in inter¬national relations. While this country spent 20 years in the modernization wilderness, in¬vesting in capabilities to defeat low-tech insurgencies and building capacity over capability, competitors targeted modernization efforts intended to undermine U.S. military-technological advantages. Modernization requires the ability of the military to keep place with the technological evolution of the battlefield. A force able to modernize in turn requires an industrial base healthy and diverse enough to develop and apply emerging technologies that are relevant to war. Failure in either area—a weak, moribund defense industrial base or obsolete forces— means failure in war and the fatal compromise of the nation’s security. Conversely, a healthy and effective force, made possible by a healthy and relevant industrial base, means a secure and prosperous country. I have written about the imperative for modernization in a chapter for the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of American Military Power here.
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