Ever wonder how much we use for US military spending? Being the number one world power doesn’t come cheap. Our freedom is bought and paid for, not just with human lives, but with billions and billions of government dollars. Here’s how the military is funded and what its budget looks like:
How Much Does the US Spend on Military?
The U.S. military budget is the amount of money allocated to the Department of Defense and other defense agencies each year for military spending. It comes from the discretionary federal budget and will equal about $773.5 billion for Fiscal Year 2017. The budget is divided up between different operations and departments within the DOD and between the various military branches.
There are three types of federal spending: mandatory, discretionary, and interest on debt. Discretionary spending is set by Congress after an analysis of annual appropriations. In FY 2015, 29 percent of all federal funds were discretionary, and 54 percent of these (more than half) went to the military.
To further emphasize just how much money is poured into the military each year, the only expenditure that surpasses the military is Social Security.
So, once the military has all this money, how do they spend it among st themselves? Well, for the Fiscal Year 2013, the money within the military budget was allotted accordingly:
|Components||Funding (in billions)|
|Operations and Maintenance||$258|
|Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation||$63|
|Atomic Energy Defense Activities||$17|
In 2010, this is the percent of the military budget that each of the 4 federally-funded branches received:
|Branch||Percent of Military Budget|
And according to the Mid-Session Review for Fiscal Year 2017, the military budget looks something like this:
|Component||Funding (in billions)|
|The Department of Defense||$523.9|
|Overseas Contingency Operations||$58.8|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||$75.1|
|FBI/Department of Justice||$9.5|
|National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy||$12.9|
|Efforts against ISIS specifically||$14.9|
The Department of Defense Base Budget
The Department of Defense is the government body to which all military branches except the Coast Guard belong. Here’s what they do with their piece of the military budget:
- Healthcare, retirement, housing, and other benefits. Considering all of these, the average enlisted personnel in the military gets about $59,000 in compensation while officers get around $108,000.
- Trim down unnecessary infrastructure to save money.
- Missile defense, both nationally and regionally.
- Programs within individual military branches, such as the Joint Strike Fighter program of the Air Force.
- The training of security forces in the Middle East to help hold ground against ISIS.
- Replenishing maritime security efforts in Asia.
- Improving cyber security.
- Staying involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
US Military Spending History
Here’s a history of the U.S. military budget and how it’s been spent for the last few years:
|Fiscal Year||Department of Defense Base Budget||Overseas Contingency Operations||Total Spending|
Lots of things influence how much of the budget is spent and where. For example, in the early 2000s, spending rose with the attack on the World Trade Center and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the economies of both the United States and Iraq underwent changes, so did military spending. In 2016, the United States’ efforts against ISIS caused an increase in spending, though the all-time high for total military spending in the U.S. was in 2011, despite the winding-down of the Iraq War.
Congress and the Department of Defense
The Department of Defense is not the most efficient spender out there, and they know this. About a third of their budget is spent on just maintaining equipment and personnel. By 2024, rising retirement costs are predicted to soak up the DoD’s budget completely. In their efforts to save money, the DoD could and should reduce spending in personnel and maintenance, such as the number of civilians it employs, the amount of benefits per soldier, and the number of operating military bases. But Congress has proven to be a stumbling block in these endeavors. For one, they’re hesitant to shut down military bases because it will cost the locale numerous jobs. They’re also hesitant to approve pay cuts, afraid it will discourage people from joining the military and therefore cripple our national security; the same goes for downsizing the military, which is another way the DoD could improve its budget.
The U.S. Military Budget Compared to Other Nations
America’s military is not just the most powerful in the world; it’s also the most expensive. By far, the United States spends more money on it’s military than any other country in the world. In fact, it takes the combined military budgets of the top 7 nations underneath the United States to equal what the U.S. military costs annually. Just the second-ranked nation in military spending, China, still spends half what the United States does. In 2015, the global military budget was around 1.6 trillion dollars. Guess which country accounted for 37 percent of that?
The debate on whether or not to increase or decrease military spending in the United States is ongoing, particularly with the current climate of fear surrounding ISIS. Just recently, President Donald Trump proposed a larger military budget both for the United States and for NATO. However, the kind of increases he’s calling for face lots of hurdles before they can become a reality.
What do you think? Should the United States spend less or more on its military?
Taking Pride in Our Veterans and Military Service members
Whatever the military costs, we at Low VA Rates are thankful that it exists and for the safety it provides us and our families. We express our love and support for those who’ve served in the past and those who continue to serve. Our mission here is to make life easier for you once you come home, to enable you to take care of yourself financially, and hopefully, give back to you in a small way.