U.S. defense modernization efforts are "failing to keep pace" when compared with its two big adversaries, and American forces are "poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia," according to a starkly worded new report from think-tank Rand.
As tensions with North Korea heighten, Rand's 190-page report, entitled "U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World," also discussed war scenarios with NATO-Russia involving the Baltic states. It also broke down a possible U.S.-China clash over Taiwan and gaps in existing U.S. capabilities.
With those factors in mind, the Rand report's authors said that the nation's armed forces are "insufficiently trained and ready" when looking at the active service components. That assessment comes despite the U.S. military presence in several regions of the world, and ongoing anti-terrorism missions and the war in Afghanistan, which is nearing its 20th year.
"In short, providing the military power called for by the United States' ambitious national security strategy, which has never been easy, has recently become considerably more challenging," said the report.
"The coincidence of this new reality with a period of constrained defense budgets has led to a situation in which it is now far from clear that our military forces are adequate for the tasks being placed before them," the authors wrote.
More tellingly, Rand's analysis also noted that the capabilities of China and Russia have advanced so far they could potentially beat American forces in certain situations.
"Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China military forces by a ratio of 2.7:1 and Russia by 6:1," read the report. "The nation needs to do better than this."
CNBC reached out to the Defense Department for comment on Saturday, but did not receive an immediate reply. However, Rand's study was funded in part by the department, suggesting they are aware of its contents.