While no publication of this type is possible ‌without the contributions of a great many people, there are usually a few special contributors whose talents, work ethic, and willingness to go the extra mile make it something quite special.

Policy Analyst for Defense and Security Studies Brian Slattery sustained the additional responsibilities of project management, working with the team of authors, editors, and graphics and production professionals that made this Index a reality, both in print and on the Web. He was assisted admirably by Rachel Zissimos, Research Assistant in the Center for National Defense, who contributed to specialized research, writing, and fact-checking and also took on production management duties as needed.

Senior Copy Editor William T. Poole was instrumental in not only maintaining a consistent tone throughout this multi-author document—a challenging feat all its own—but also checking every reference to ensure accuracy in reporting and coherence throughout the Index. Manager of Data Graphics John Fleming expertly managed the transition of all graphics to a revised format size without compromising the important information they convey. Director of Digital Strategy Ory Rinat and Creative Director Melissa Bluey, assisted by the detailed efforts of Jay Simon, Assistant Art Director, and Maria Sousa, Manager for Web and Digital Media, ensured that the presentation of Index materials was tuned to account for changes in content delivery as our world becomes increasingly digital, portable, and driven by social media.

We believe this Index helps to provide a better informed understanding and wider appreciation of America’s ability to “provide for the common defence” that undergirds The Heritage Foundation’s vision of “an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.” Judging by reception of the Index during this past year—some 300,000 unique visitors to the 2016 Index website alone—we are encouraged that so many Americans are similarly concerned about the state of affairs in and the multitude of factors affecting our country.

The Heritage Foundation seeks a better life for Americans, which requires a stronger economy, a stronger society, and a stronger defense. To help measure the state of the economy, our Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity publishes annually the Index of Economic Freedom. To help measure the state of society, our Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity publishes annually the Index of Culture and Opportunity. Now, to help Americans everywhere more fully understand the state of our defenses, our Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy publishes this third edition of the annual Index of U.S. Military Strength.

Finally, in addition to acknowledging all of those who helped to prepare the 2017 Index of U.S. Military Strength, The Heritage Foundation expresses its profound appreciation to the members of the U.S. armed forces who continue to protect the liberty of the American people in a dangerous world.