Pick your metaphor-perfect storm, train wreck, or death spiral. Each reflects conditions our armed forces could face in the not so distant future.
On the current course, a collision among strategic, operational, and resource realities seems inevitable. Resources in terms of money and people will likely be the catalyst for this implosion. Depending on when Congress finally approves last year's second defense emergency supplemental spending bill, somewhere around $800 billion will have been appropriated for the Pentagon and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But future defense budgets are set at the $500-520 billion per annum range. So an annual shortfall of $200-300 billion looms. Add the authorization of 92,000 more ground forces whose costs do not include training, equipping, and caring for—assuming they can be recruited—and, as the saying goes, "Houston, we have a problem."