In a 2015 article, author of a book by the same title, Michael E. O'Hanlon attempts to paint a picture using simple math and a quick view of the imponderables of global future conflicts.
"The active-duty Army is already below its Clinton-era size and only slightly more than half its Reagan-era size. Reductions to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard have been almost as steep. None need grow at this juncture, but the cuts should stop."
Here is a good picture for reference with other countries.
An argument could be made that we do not need even that much. My question is how much is enough? With Russia poised to take back Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, how much would be enough to preserve NATO? How about eastern naval expansion in the South China Sea?
As of last year, this was out own report:
(Many thanks to Mr. Earl Flanigan for providing the link.)
Doesn't paint a very favorable picture of what we do have, now does it?
The report further goes on to point out that of the numbers of potential "Boots on Ground" we have this to account for:
"Stryker, Infantry, and Armored BCTs and CABs make up the Army’s main combat force, but they do not make up the entirety of the Army. About 92,000 troops that form the “institutional Army” and provide support, such as overseeing military schools, cannot be reduced at the same ratio as BCTs or CABs. In addition, a great number of functional or multi-functional support brigades provide air defense, engineering, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), military police, military intelligence, and medical support among other types of battlefield support for BCTs."
For those that do not speak "Army", (don't worry, like pig latin, we do not know what were are saying half the time), what it means is that of the 500,000 active duty Soldiers, not everyone is going to show up. Moreover, not everyone is in a job that requires fighting. it is call the "tip ot the spear" for a reason.
To be clear, this lack of operational readiness is not a reflection of the lack of traction that the Global War on Terror was able to provide. It is a reflection of physical fitness compliance, medical readiness, ammunition, equipment maintenance, food, et cetera, et cetera. During the GWOT, the military did every damn thing it was asked to do. We were not "defeated" until commanders began naming themselves "Mayors". It all kind of went down hill after that, didn't it?
So what does the future of land warfare look like? Well, how's your fitness level, bullets, beans, and band-aid count been looking like lately?