Miller Center

State of the U.S. Military

During 2009-2010 the Miller Center conducted a special forum series on the state of the U.S. military. The U.S. military is being stretched to confront multiple challenges in the Mid East region following years of engagement in Iraq and increasing troop commitments in Afghanistan. In particular, the military faces a formidable task as conditions in Afghanistan deteriorate and as the security situation in Pakistan continues to complicate the landscape. President Obama's commitment to withdraw troops from Iraq by 2011 raises important political and strategic considerations. Add to this equation the possible need for a military response to rising tensions with Iran and North Korea. Together, these factors create a complex scenario for the U.S. administration and its military leaders and present an opportune time to examine the state and health of our military.

This forum series builds upon a groundbreaking study conducted by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security. Based on over 3,000 surveys of current and former military officers, the study reveals that over 60% feel that the military is weaker today than it was five years ago. The weakness primarily stems from the pace of troop deployments for the war on terror. The Miller Center forum series builds upon this study and examines the following issues:

  1. U.S. military strength, leadership, and strategy
  2. Status of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan
  3. The politics of war
  4. Sentiment within the ranks
  5. Military resources

Forums in Series


October 5, 2009

Assessing Military Preparedness in the Post 9-11 Era


General John Abizaid

General John Abizaid is a Retired General in the United States Army and former Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). Abizaid succeded General Tommy Franks in July 2003 and commanded U.S. forces in Iraq until his retirement from the military in the Spring of 2007. He currently serves as a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College.


November 6, 2009

Rules of Engagement


Raffi Khatchadorian & Pete Hegseth

Did Colonel Michael Dane Steele, as General Peter Chiarelli the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff believes, set the conditions for a massacre by cultivating reckless aggressiveness in his soldiers, and by interpreting the rules of engagement in a way that made the killing of noncombatants likely? Raffi Khatchadorian a staff writer for the New Yorker, interviews Pete Hegseth, a Princeton graduate and former platoon leader under Steele, about “The Kill Company: Did a colonel’s fiery rhetoric set the conditions for a massacre?” published in the July 6, 2009 issue of his magazine.


March 15, 2010

Evolution of the War in Iraq and Prospects for the Future


Brig. General H.R. McMaster

Brig. General H.R. McMaster, Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center's Concepts Development and Experimentation.


April 19, 2010

Afghanistan / Pakistan


Mark Mazetti

Mark Mazetti, a correspondent for The New York Times, where he has covered national security from the newspaper's Washington bureau since April 2006. In 2009, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the intensifying violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Washington's response. The previous year, he was a Pulitzer finalist for reporting on the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.


May 3, 2010

The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army


Greg Jaffe

Greg Jaffe, is the Pentagon correspondent at the Washington Post and previously held the same position at the Wall Street Journal. In 1999, he was part of a team of reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He will discuss his recent book (co-written with David Cloud), The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army (Random Books, 2009)


May 14, 2010

Obama's War Over Terror


Peter Baker

New York Times White House Correspondent and former Washington Post Reporter Peter Baker explores the legacy of the George W. Bush administration and the struggles that President Obama is currently facing as he balances national security and the protection of civil liberties. In a New York Times Magazine article, which will be the point of departure of his talk, Baker assesses the new administration’s handling of terrorists threats.


November 15, 2010

Wired for War: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Robots, War, and Politics, But Were Afraid to Ask…


Peter W. Singer


What are the implications of robotics and other new technologies for war, politics, ethics, and law in the 21st century? Senior Brookings fellow and Director of its 21st Century Initiative Peter Warren Singer, presents his findings in a new best-selling book, Wired for War. Named by Foreign Policy Magazine to the Top 100 Global Thinkers List of 2009, Dr. Singer is considered one of the world's leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare.




Click to download a full PDF of the report
from the Military series.