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The military budget is that portion of the United Statesmarker discretionary federal budget that is allocated to the Department of Defensemarker, or more broadly, the portion of the budget that goes to any defense-related expenditures. This military budget pays the salaries, training, and health care of uniformed and civilian personnel, maintains arms, equipment and facilities, funds operations, and develops and buys new equipment. The budget funds all branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Budget for 2010

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 was signed into law on October 28, 2010.For the 2010 fiscal year, the budget of the Department of Defense is $680 billion, including $130 for war-related supplemental spending. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expected an additional supplemental spending bill, possibly in the range of $40-50 billion, by the Spring of 2010 in order to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Budget for 2009

For the 2009 fiscal year, the base budget of the Department of Defense rose to $518.3 billion. Adding emergency discretionary spending, supplemental spending, and stimulus spending brings the sum to $651.2 billion. Defense-related expenditures outside of the Department of Defense constitute between $274 billion and $493 billion in additional spending, bringing the total for defense spending to between $925 billion and $1.14 trillion in 2009.

Emergency and supplemental spending

The recent invasions of Iraqmarker and Afghanistanmarker are largely funded through supplementary spending bills outside the Federal Budget, so they are not included in the military budget figures listed below. In addition, the Pentagon has access to black budget military spending for special programs which is not listed as Federal spending and is not included in published military spending figures.

By the end of 2008, the U.S. had spent approximately $900 billion in direct costs on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Indirect costs such as interest on the additional debt and incremental costs of caring for the more than 33,000 wounded borne by the Veterans Administrationmarker are additional. Some experts estimate these indirect costs will eventually exceed the direct costs.

By title

The federally budgeted (see below) military expenditure of the United States Department of Defensemarker for fiscal year 2009 is:

Components Funding Change, 2008 to 2009
Operations and maintenance $179.8 billion +9.5%
Military Personnel $125.2 billion +7.5%
Procurement $104.2 billion +5.3%
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation $79.6 billion +4.1%
Military Construction $21.2 billion +19.1%
Family Housing $3.2 billion +10.3%
Resolving and Management Funds $2.2 billion -18.5%
Total Base Spending $515.4 billion +5.7%

By service

Service 2007 Budget request Percentage of Total
Army $110.3 billion 25.1%
Navy/Marine Corps $127.1 billion 28.8%
Air Force $130.2 billion 29.5%
Defense Wide $73.4 billion 16.6%

Programs spending more than $1 billion

The $104.2 billion procurement budget and $79.6 billion RDT&E budget appropriated several programs with more than $1 billion.
Program 2009 Budget request Change, 2008 to 2009
Missile Defense $9.4 billion +8.0%
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter $6.9 billion +6.2%
Carrier Replacement Program $4.2 billion +23.5%
F-22 Raptor $4.1 billion -6.8%
Virginia class submarine $3.9 billion +14.7%
Future Combat System $3.3 billion -2.9%
DDG 1000 Destroyer $3.2 billion -8.6%
C-17 $3.0 billion
V-22 Osprey $2.7 billion +3.8%
Space-Based Infrared System $2.3 billion +130.0%
F/A-18E/F Hornet $2.0 billion -4.8%
MH-60R/S $1.9 billion +72.7%
EA-18G Growler $1.8 billion +12.5%
Chemical Demilitarization $1.6 billion +0.0%
Stryker $1.3 billion +18.2%
Littoral combat ship $1.3 billion +116.7%
CH-47 Chinook $1.2 billion +9.1%
P-8A Poseidon $1.2 billion +33.3%
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle $1.2 billion +9.1%
UH-60 Black Hawk $1.1 billion -26.7%
E-2C/D Hawkeye $1.1 billion +22.2%
Trident II Ballistic Missile $1.1 billion +0.0%
Mobile User Objective System $1.0 billion +25.0%

Defense-related expenditures outside of the published Department of Defense budget

This does not include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget, such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance, cleanup, and production, which is in the Department of Energy budget, Veterans Affairsmarker, the Treasury Department's payments in pensions to military retirees and widows and their families (an amount not disclosed on official statistics), interest on debt incurred in past wars, or State Department financing of foreign arms sales and militarily-related development assistance. Neither does it include defense spending that is not military in nature, such as the Department of Homeland Securitymarker, counter-terrorism spending by the FBImarker, and intelligence-gathering spending by NASAmarker.

Defense-related expenditure 2009 Budget request Calculation
DOD spending $651.2 billion Base budget + Emergency/Supplemental spending
FBI counter-terrorism $2.4-$6.2 billion At least one-third FBI budget. At most, estimate from CRS that may include duplicated non-DOD programs.
International Affairs $5.3-$38.0 billion At minimum, foreign arms sales. At most, entire State budget
Energy Department, nuclear weapons $18.2 billion
Veterans Affairs $91.9 billion
Homeland Security $44.3 billion
Treasury Department, military pension payments $48.7 billion
NASA, satellites $3.5-$8.8 billion Between 20% and 50% of NASA's total budget
Interest on debt incurred in past wars $59.5-$237.1 billion Between 23% and 91% of total interest
Total Spending $925–$1144 billion

Military budget and total US federal spending

Fiscal Year 2008 U.S.
Federal Spending - Cash or Budget Basis
The U.S. Department of Defense budget accounted in fiscal year 2009 for about 21% of the United States federal budgeted expenditures and 24% of estimated tax revenues. Including non-DOD expenditures, defense spending was approximately 31-37% of budgeted expenditures and 35-42% of estimated tax revenues. According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense spending grew 9% annually on average from fiscal year 2000-2009.

Because of constitutional limitations, military funding is appropriated in a discretionary spending account. (Such accounts permit government planners to have more flexibility to change spending each year, as opposed to mandatory spending accounts that mandate spending on programs in accordance with the law, outside of the budgetary process.) In recent years, discretionary spending as a whole has amounted to about one-third of total federal outlays. Military funding's share of discretionary funding was 50.5% in 2003, and has risen steadily ever since.

For FY 2009, Department of Defense spending amounts to 4.8% of GDP. Because the U.S. GDP has risen over time, the military budget can rise in absolute terms while shrinking as a percentage of the GDP. For example, the Department of Defense budget is slated to be $651 billion in 2009 (including the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan previously funded through supplementary budget legislation), higher than at any other point in American history, but still 1.1-1.4% lower as a percentage of GDP than the amount spent on defense during the peak of Cold-War military spending in the late 1980s. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called four percent an "absolute floor". This calculation does not take into account some other defense-related non-DOD spending, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and interest paid on debt incurred in past wars, which has increased even as a percentage of the national GDP.

Comparison with other countries

The 2009 U.S. military budget is almost as much as the rest of the world's defense spending combined and is over nine times larger than the military budget of China (compared at the nominal US dollar / Renminbi rate, not the PPP rate). The United States and its close allies are responsible for about two-thirds of the world's military spending (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for the majority).

In 2005, the United States spent 4.06% of its GDP on its military (considering only basic Department of Defense budget spending), more than France's 2.6% and less than Saudi Arabiamarker's 10%. This is historically low for the United States since it peaked in 1944 at 37.8% of GDP (it reached the lowest point of 3.0% in 1999-2001). Even during the peak of the Vietnam War the percentage reached a high of 9.4% in 1968.

Recent commentary on military budget

Defense Spending 2006 - 2010
Defense Spending as % Outlays FY 1950-2007

In February 2009, Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., called for a reduction in the defense budget: "The math is compelling: if we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy. I am working with a variety of thoughtful analysts to show how we can make very substantial cuts in the military budget without in any way diminishing the security we need...[American] well-being is far more endangered by a proposal for substantial reductions in Medicare, Social Security or other important domestic areas than it would be by canceling weapons systems that have no justification from any threat we are likely to face."

Republican historian Robert Kagan has argued that 2009 is not the time to cut defense spending, relating such spending to jobs and support for allies: "A reduction in defense spending this year would unnerve American allies and undercut efforts to gain greater cooperation. There is already a sense around the world...that the United States is in terminal decline. Many fear that the economic crisis will cause the United States to pull back from overseas commitments. The announcement of a defense cutback would be taken by the world as evidence that the American retreat has begun."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in January 2009 that the U.S. should adjust its priorities and spending to address the changing nature of threats in the world: "What all these potential adversaries—from terrorist cells to rogue nations to rising powers—have in common is that they have learned that it is unwise to confront the United States directly on conventional military terms. The United States cannot take its current dominance for granted and needs to invest in the programs, platforms, and personnel that will ensure that dominance's persistence. But it is also important to keep some perspective. As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, for example, in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet is still larger than the next 13 navies combined—and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners." Secretary Gates announced some of his budget recommendations in April 2009.

The Congressional Research Service has noted a discrepancy between a budget that is declining as a percentage of GDP while the responsibilities of the DoD have not decreased and additional pressures on the defense budget have arisen due to broader missions in the post-9/11 world, dramatic increases in personnel and operating costs, and new requirements resulting from wartime lessons in the Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom.

See also


  1. Remarks by the President at the Signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010
  2. Senate OKs defense bill, 68-29
  3. The New York Times, Pentagon Expected to Request More War Funding
  4. Open Congressional Research Service, Defense: FY2009 Authorization and Appropriations
  6. David Isenberg, Budgeting for Empire: The effect of Iraq and Afghanistan on Military Forces, Budgets and Plans
  7. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments-Cost of the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars Through 2008
  8. DoD FY 2009 Budget Request Summary Justification, Major Weapons Systems
  9. CBO-Monthly Budget Review-Sept 09
  10. Congressional Appropriations: An Updated Analysis
  11. The President's FY 2010 Budget
  12. Joint Chiefs Chairman Looks Beyond Current Wars
  13. Barney Frank - The Nation
  14. Robert Kagan - Washington Post
  15. Gates-A Balanced Strategy
  16. Slate-Gates Follows Through
  17. CRS Defense: FY2010 Authorization and Appropriations, pages 6 - 8

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