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


The 2017 Index of U.S. Military Strength saw a slight decline in scoring the overall Global Security Environment. Though the aggregate score remained the same, it dropped lower in the range established for “favorable,” chiefly as a result of troubles in the Middle East.


The Middle East Operating Environment remained “moderate,” but just barely. As noted earlier in this chapter, the region is plagued by instability, substantial internal security challenges, and spreading, extremely violent transnational threats.

The Europe Operating Environment did not see categorical changes in any of its scores, remaining “favorable,” but its military posture increased slightly with the return of some U.S. forces to Europe, while political stability in the region experienced some setbacks resulting from challenges posed by mass migration from the Middle East, terrorist attacks, and the turmoil in Turkey generated by an attempted coup.

Similarly, the Asia Operating Environment saw few changes from last year’s assessment, remaining “favorable” for U.S. operations, although it remains to be seen how China’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the region affects the policies of long-standing allies of the U.S. with respect to working with and hosting U.S. military forces.