CNAS-Foreign Policy Magazine U.S. Military Index - Center for a New American Security:

CNAS and Foreign Policy Magazine set out to address some of the most challenging questions facing the U.S. military in the 21st century: What is the actual state of America's military? How healthy are the armed forces? How prepared are they for future conflicts? How confident are they in civilian leaders and government institutions? And what impact have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan really had on them? To find out, Foreign Policy and CNAS teamed up to conduct a groundbreaking survey to find out what America's highest ranking military officials — the very officers who have run the military over the last half century — collectively think about the state of the force, the health of the military, the course of the war in Iraq, and the challenges that lie ahead.

The U.S. Military Index is based on a survey of 3,437 officers holding the rank of major or lieutenant commander and above from across the services, active duty and retired, general officers and field-grade officers. About 35 percent of the participants hailed from the Army, 33 percent from the Air Force, 23 percent from the Navy, and 8 percent from the Marine Corps. The Index focuses on a very elite portion of the military – the 6 percent of the military ranking Major/Lieutenant Commander and up, the most highly accomplished active duty and retired officers, including 232 flag officers, elite generals, and admirals who have served at the highest levels of command. Approximately one-third are colonels or captains, while 37 percent hold the rank of lieutenant colonel or commander. Eighty-one percent have more than 20 years of service in the military. Twelve percent graduated from one of America’s exclusive military academies. And approximately two-thirds have combat experience, with roughly 10 percent having served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. Participants in the survey were selected by the Center for a New American Security and Foreign Policy. The nonscientific survey was administered online from December 7, 2007, to January 15, 2008.
Foreign Policy Magazine Military Index page:

The health of the Army and Marine Corps, the services that have borne the brunt of the fighting in Iraq, are of greatest concern to the index’s officers. Asked to grade the health of each service on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning the officers have no concern about the health of the service and 10 meaning they are extremely concerned, the officers reported an average score of 7.9 for the Army and 7.0 for the Marine Corps. The health of the Air Force fared the best, with a score of 5.7. The average score across the four services was 6.6. More than 80 percent of the officers say that, given the stress of current deployments, it is unreasonable to ask the military to wage another major war today. Nor did the officers express high confidence in the military’s preparedness to do so. For instance, the officers said that the United States is not fully prepared to successfully execute such a mission against Iran or North Korea.

A majority of the officers also say that some of the policy decisions made during the course of the Iraq war hindered the prospects for success there. These include shortening the time units spend at home between deployments and accepting more recruits who do not meet the military’s standards. Even the military’s ability to care for some of its own—mentally wounded soldiers and veterans—was judged by most officers to be substandard.

These negative perceptions, however, do not necessarily translate into a disillusioned or disgruntled force. Sixty-four percent of the officers report that they believe morale within the military is high. Still, they are not without concern for the future. Five years into the war in Iraq, for example, a majority of the officers report that either China or Iran, not the United States, is emerging as the strategic victor in that fight. In an era when the U.S. military is stretched dangerously thin, it’s a sign that the greatest challenges may still lie ahead.