In 2020 the US military requested an eye-popping $247 billion dollars for acquisition programs. The United States fields not only the world’s most expensive military, but also the best equipped one. But equipped for what?
After nearly two decades of “forever wars” in the Middle East, and amid large, continuing commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military machine has slowly optimized itself for the conflicts it has become accustomed to, and acquisition programs still reflect the needs presented by those conflicts. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, is an example. The military plans to buy over fifty thousand of these vehicles in total. It will eventually replace the bulk of the services’ Humvees and stay in service for decades. However, it is increasingly clear that the JLTV, largely due to its size and weight, is not ideal for the future operating environment that the Army and Marines envision. It is a vehicle designed from the bottom up for the simmering counterinsurgencies in the Middle East with limited applicability in the Pacific or European theaters.