Both Russia and China are gaining on the United States -- the country that has held the honor of top dog in military superiority since the early 1990s -- with their own militaries.
According to The Hill, the United States created an advantage over other major superpowers by building up its military's naval, air, land, and space capabilities -- as well as building key bases in Europe and Asia -- since the end of the Cold War.
The United States' $600 billion budget continues to outdo military rivals China and Russia by over three times and six times, respectively. However, much of the United States' budget pays for military operations overseas, including the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. David Ochmanek, a senior defense researcher at the RAND Corporation, says that this is precisely the Untied States' problem.
"U.S. forces ... go halfway around the world to fight," Ochmanek told The Hill. "And they fight in the other guy's backyard, at times in places of the other guy's choosing. And that's the problem."
China and Russia, on the other hand, have chosen to focus on spending their budget on "modernization," in order to improve the quality and efficiency of their militaries. According to The Hill, the strategy is paying off, particularly for China.
"It's not just one area or few areas," Ochmanek said. "If you look at the evolution of [China's] military over the last 15 years ... it's rather astounding. Ballistic missiles, air defense, aircraft, electronic warfare, naval vessels -- they've just invested very substantially in modern capabilities."
Retired four-star Gen. Welsey Clark said in an interview on "The Cats Roundtable," that the United States has put the modernization of its military on "warm idle" over the last 25 years.
"We are spending our money on ordnance, on bombers, on missiles ... that are blowing holes in the ground and sometimes hitting terrorists ... But Russia -- they have produced a new generation of armored forces," Clark said, according to the New York Post.
Experts, such as Harry Krejsa of the Center for a New American Security, say that China is not trying to match America's military, but rather to achieve more control of the Asia-Pacific region.
"China doesn't need to reach parity with U.S. capabilities to pose a major threat, they just have to be 'goo enough' -- and they will be there soon, if they are not already," Krejsa told The Hill.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has said that the country has achieved "substantial success" in modernizing its military.
"I am not going to mention everything, but we have modernized our systems and are successfully developing new generations," Putin said in 2016.
"I am not even talking about the technologies that penetrate missile defense systems,” Putin said. "We warned that we are going to do this, we said it, and we are doing it. And I guarantee you, today, Russia has achieved substantial success in this area."