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The United States Military Spending Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2020

In recent years, the expenditure of the US military has been rising and now accounts for more than 19 percent of the total federal budget. In 2010, expenditures including costs outside the Department of defense stood at about 35 percent of budget expenditures (Wall par. 2-6). Since the year 2000, the expenditure by the department of defense has been increasing annually by about 9 percent.

GDP and military spending

In 2009, the budget of the US military amounted to about 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. In 2010, the amount given to the United States Department of defense was approximately US$660 billion (Macias par. 1-7). This amount was the highest in American history, but still 1.5 percent lower than the GDP.

Unit 2010 Budget request Percentage of Total
Army US$244.9 billion 31.8%
Navy US$149.9 billion 23.4%
Marine Corps US$4.0 billion 4%
Air Force US$170.6 billion 22%
Defense Intelligence US$80.1 billion 3.3%
Defense-Wide Joint Activities US$118.7 billion 15.5%

Source: (Macias par. 4-7).

Comparison with other countries

The budget of the US military is actually the highest in the world. In 2012, China spent about US$100 billion on military activities, but still this amount was almost seven times lower compared with what the US military spent. The main reason behind the spending is that the United States had the largest number of barracks and military bases located in different parts of the world (Wall par. 2-4). In 2005, the United States spent about 5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on military activities. This was more than what the top four countries combined used on military activities. In 1944, the US military budget was the highest as it was about 40 percent of the GDP. The lowest point was recorded in 1999 where military spending amounted to about three percent of the GDP (Macias par. 3-7). During the Vietnam War, in the late 1960s, the spending on military activities was the highest and equaled to about 10 percent of the GDP.

Rank Country Spending Percent of the GDP Global Share
World total US$1747.0 2.4 100
1 The United States US$640.0 3.8 36.6
2 The Peoples Republic of China US$188.0 2.0 10.8
3 Russia US$87.8 4.1 5.0
4 Saudi Arabia US$67.0 9.3 3.8
5 France US$61.2 2.2 3.5

Source: (Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley par. 2-8).

Reason for the increasing and reducing budget

Components Funding Change, 2009 to 2010
Operations and maintenance US$283.3 billion +4.2%
Military Personnel US$153.2 billion +5.0%
Procurement US$140.1 billion −1.8%
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation US$79.1 billion +1.3%
Military Construction US$23.9 billion +19.0%
Family Housing US$3.1 billion −20.2%
Total Spending US$683.7 billion +3.0%

Source: (Cassata par. 2-4).

When an emergency arises, the US military is usually funded through supplementary budgets. However, in 2011, the federal government classified oversees operations of the US army as being contingent. This meant that such military operations would no longer be funded under an emergency plan but under the federal budget (Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley par. 4-7). The operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, by the end of 2009, had cost the United States more than US$1 trillion in direct costs (Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley 2-4). On top of this, the federal government incurred indirect expenses, which comprised interests on extra debt and incremental expenses, specifically on caring for more than 30,000 injured soldiers. At the end of 2011, the Afghanistan and Iraq war had cost the United States US$3.7 trillion in general. The United States military spending started reducing in 2011. For instance, in 2011 and 2012, the U.S defense spending declined by about US$40 billion (Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley par. 3-5). Despite this, the United States was still the highest spender compared to China and other top spenders.

The increase in US military spending was attributed to the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the decrease in spending is attributed to two major reasons. The first is the reduction as a result of the termination of Iraq war in 2011 as well as reduced military operations in Afghanistan. Second, there is a huge budget deficit crisis in the United States, and it has been the only remedy to reduce military spending (Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley par. 4-9). In fact, if there will be no other international conflict, the US defense budget is likely to continue falling as the federal government has already ordered that the military personnel must be reduced (Cassata par. 2-5). The explanation is that short-term changes in the US military spending usually depend on economic growth. In fact, spending amongst nearly all the top five military spenders declined in 2012 apart from China (Cassata par. 2-5). In the case of China, the military spending in 2011 and 2012 increased by about 7.9 percent, and by over 45 percent since the recent financial crisis started. Mainly, this is attributed to geopolitical reasons as well as the booming of the Chinese economy. With enough money and resources, the Chinese government can afford to sustain an oversized military.

Works Cited

Cassata, Donna. Pentagon Pleas for Flexibility go Unheeded as House Panel Spares Older Weapons, Benefits. 2014. Web.

Korb, Lawrence, Max Hoffman and Kate Blakeley. 2014. Web.

Macias, Amanda.2014. Web.

Wall, Robert. U.S. Military Spending Plan Will Give BAE Systems More Stable Outlook –CEO. 2014. Web.

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