The U.S. is a global power. Its security interests are global, and threats to those interests could emerge from any region. Consequently, the U.S. military must be ready to operate in any region when called upon to do so, and it must account for the range of conditions it might encounter when planning for potential military operations. This informs its decisions on the type and amount of equipment it purchases (especially to transport and sustain the force), where it might operate from, and how easy (or not) it will be to project and sustain combat power when engaged with the enemy.

Aggregating the three regional scores provides a Global Operating Environment score.

Global Operating Environment: FAVORABLE

Global Operating Environment for U.S. Forces

The 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength saw an overall improvement in the Global Operating Environment, with the score moving from “moderate” to “favorable.”

The overall improvement was driven largely by higher scores in the Asia Operating Environment score over last year, which led to its score going from “moderate” to “favorable:”

Global Operating Environment for U.S. Forces: Overall

  • Alliances improved from “favorable” to “excellent.”
  • U.S. Military Positioning improved from “moderate” to “favorable.”
  • Infrastructure improved from “moderate” to “favorable.”

The Middle East Operating Environment also contributed slightly to the overall improvement, with its Alliance score going from “moderate” to “favorable.” However, the Middle East Operating Environment remained “moderate.”

The Europe Operating Environment did not see categorical changes in any of its scores, remaining “favorable.”

Major factors that contributed to changes in the Operating Environment from the 2015 Index include America’s fortification of defense agreements with Japan, the Republic of Korea, and India; a recommitment to U.S. troop presence in the Republic of Korea; financial instability in Greece and questions about the viability of the eurozone; and an increased commitment to combatting ISIS by Arab nations and U.S. allies in the Middle East.