Readiness is a term used in the United States that refers to the production, deployment, and sustainability of military forces. The Department of Defense (DOD) defines military readiness as “the ability of military forces to fight and meet the demands of assigned missions (Herrera, p. 3).” While often confused and used interchangeably with preparedness, readiness essentially comes down to the degree to which a military unit is capable of accomplishing a mission. While military readiness encompasses a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, in the official doctrine and memoranda, the DOD focuses specifically on three: organize, train, and equip. Arguably, it is the training part that is now encountering several challenges.
First and foremost, US military units are not trained to operate in a variety of settings. Since 2001, US military forces have been mainly concentrated in the CENTCOM AOR (Area of Responsibility) which includes the Middle East, Egypt, and parts of Central Asia and South Asia. At the same time, areas such as artic or jungle warfare have been greatly neglected. Rech, Bos, Jenkins, Williams, and Woodward (2015) argue that the study of geography has always been linked with armed conflict. Mapping and exploration require landscape research, which is not possible unless unit training includes more physical terrains.
The second challenge has to do with the standards of readiness themselves. Objective-T was established to allow commanders at all levels to establish unit phases of training, readiness, and the end state of mission readiness. However, military staff may be pressed for time when trying to meet all training standards. Sanders and Schaefer (2009) report that both active and reserve component leaders admit the lack of weapon ranges and classrooms available for preparing units for deployment. Besides, they criticized the level of language and cultural skills among training units. The problem that stems from the inadequate resources, time included, is that leaders are forced to report formal readiness while the actual situation may be far from ideal.
Herrera, J.G. (2020). The fundamentals of military readiness. Congressional Research Service. Web.
Rech, M., Bos, D., Jenkings, K. N., Williams, A., & Woodward, R. (2015). Geography, military geography, and critical military studies. Critical Military Studies, 1(1), 47-60. Web.
Sanders, W.M., & Schaefer, P. S. (2009). Identifying the training challenges and needs of deploying units. U.S. Army Research Institute. Web.