Among these will be training and reassuring allies, destroying the Islamic State, and deterring Russia, China, and Iran. This is all in addition to maintaining a lasting presence in Afghanistan. The decline in numbers will continue through 2018, when the Army is expected to bottom out at 450,000 troops.

This decline is even more troubling when considering the number of brigade combat teams, the building block of deployable Army forces. The Army totaled 45 brigade combat teams of active duty personnel in 2013. By the end of 2018, there will be only 30. While the brigade combat teams have been reorganized to increase combat power, a 20 percent decline in troops is causing a 33 percent decline in brigade combat teams, thus the Army will have fewer units to rotate through an increasing number of operational tasks.

Since budget cuts began, the Army’s readiness to deploy and fight effectively in the event of conflict has suffered dramatically.

The Pentagon has tried to remedy this by decreasing or cutting funding to several Army weapons modernization programs in order to better fund readiness and training. Yet with all this effort, according to Pentagon officials only one-third of active and reserve Army brigade combat teams are sufficiently ready for combat. Of the roughly 20 active and reserve teams that are ready for combat, 11 are already assigned to combatant commands,leaving only nine brigade combat teams for unforeseen contingencies.

In addition to poor readiness in general, the Army has focused so much on dealing with insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan that it is ill-prepared for conflict with conventional threats like the rapidly expanding and modernizing militaries of Russia and China.

As Congress debates the 2017 defense authorization bill, it must recognize that the Army is smaller, faces greater threats in more varying regions of the world, and is ill-prepared to fight a modern war. Our military commanders have been raising the alarm, but Congress is yet to act decisively. Join The Heritage Foundation on Monday, June 13, for an important discussion about the future of the Army.