The commission also cited “political dysfunction” in the United States, as well as reductions in military spending imposed by budget caps. The report said both have restrained the government from keeping pace with threats in what the panel called “a crisis of national security.”
The report’s sober warnings come as Mr. Trump has ordered the Pentagon to cut 5 percent from its proposed 2020 fiscal year budget — to about $700 billion from roughly $733 billion. Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and most likely the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has signaled that he favors even deeper cuts in military spending.
A Pentagon spokesman, Johnny Michael, said the department welcomed the panel’s report and would carefully consider its recommendations.
“The commission’s description of the complexity of the current security environment — in which strategic competition is occurring across domains and rapid technological developments are changing the character of warfare — is also a stark reminder of the gravity of these issues, and a call to action,” Mr. Michael said in a statement.
The 12-member panel, formally known as the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, was created as part of the 2017 fiscal year defense budget to review the Pentagon’s new plan even before Mr. Mattis released it. The panel is led by Eric S. Edelman, a former top Pentagon policy official in President George W. Bush’s administration, and Adm. Gary Roughead, a former chief of naval operations.
Over the past two decades, while the Pentagon mainly focused on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, the report found that foreign adversaries were studying the American military. As a result, they developed ways to counter longstanding American advantages in projecting power over distances, air and missile defense, cyberoperations and electronic warfare.
“In some cases, we are behind, or falling behind, in critical technologies,” the report said. “U.S. competitors are making enormous investments in hypersonic delivery vehicles, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.”