Were the US to go to war with China or Russia today, it might lose, a new report to Congress from a panel of a dozen leading national-security experts warns.
“If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat,” the report from the National Defense Strategy Commission — a bipartisan panel of experts handpicked by Congress to evaluate the 2018 National Defense Strategy — explained, calling attention to the erosion of America’s edge as rival powers develop capabilities previously possessed only by the US.
The commission highlights China and Russia’s energized and ongoing efforts to develop advanced anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) weaponry, systems that could result in “enormous” losses for the US military in a conflict. “Put bluntly, the US military could lose the next state-versus-state war it fights,” the report concludes.
The National Defense Strategy Commission has concluded that US national security is presently “at greater risk than at any time in decades.”
“America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to Moscow in May 2015.
The report calls into focus a concern that the US military is trying to address — that while the US put all of its efforts and energy into the fights against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere, adversarial powers have been preparing for high-end conflict.
“Many of the skills necessary to plan for and conduct military operations against capable adversaries — especially China and Russia — have atrophied,” the commission argues.
The National Defense Strategy emphasizes the return of “great power competition,” placing the threat posed by rival powers like China and Russia above terrorism and other challenges. The military branches are, in response, shifting their attention to the development of future warfighting capabilities — even as the ISIS fight and Afghanistan War grind on.
Preparation for high-end conflict is visible in the efforts across the Army, Navy, and Air Force to develop powerful stand-off weapons, such as long-range artillery and hypersonic strike platforms.
The commission is supportive of the National Defense Strategy, but it calls for faster measures and clearer explanations for how America plans to maintain its dominance. The report also called for an expansion of the current 6 billion defense budget, the bolstering of the nuclear arsenal, and innovative development of new weapons systems.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.