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Yahoo News Explains: Could the U.S. lose a war?

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According to a report published by a bipartisan commission, the U.S. has lost its military edge.

In late October, after a briefing from senior military leaders, President Trump said, “To keep American safe, America’s armed forces must remain the most powerful, lethal and effective fighting force anywhere on Earth.” But the report released Wednesday indicates that’ll take some work.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, which prepared the report, comprises 12 former Democratic and Republican officials chosen by Congress. They were tasked with evaluating the Trump administration’s defense strategy, and their findings are anything but encouraging.

The report, which is more than 100 pages long including front and back matter, concluded, “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.”

It also said that America’s military advantages have diminished, and the country’s margin for error is extremely small.

This comes as President Trump cut 5 percent from the Pentagon’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget.

Johnny Michael, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said the report served as “a stark reminder of the gravity of these issues, and a call to action.”

While the U.S. has focused on counterterrorism over the past two decades, the report said, foreign enemies have been studying the entire American military and have found ways to counter American advantages.

Recently, Trump faced criticism after he deployed more than 5,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to stop a caravan of Central American migrants heading north. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, speaking to reporters aboard his plane Wednesday, pointed out a historical parallel.

“There’s nothing new under the sun. I would put this in a little historic[al] context. I think many of you are aware that President Wilson 100 years ago, a little over 100 years ago, deployed the U.S. Army to the southwest border,” Mattis said.

Though the migrant caravan is still about 1,000 miles away, Mattis later repeated his defense of Trump’s decision while talking to troops who have been deployed in Texas, calling it “necessary.”

No matter how that situation plays out, the strategy commission report questions the U.S. military’s overall, international superiority. The commission recommends that the U.S. increase its defense budget by at least 3 percent to 5 percent to offset its military decline.

The commission’s co-chairs will testify about their findings before the Senate this month.

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