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PUBLICATIONS :: FOREIGN POLICY INDEX



Military Budget

Table & Figures
Recommended Reading
Footnotes


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the United States is in a position of military dominance, both in terms of its ability to project power abroad and wage conventional war.1 To maintain this military advantage, the U.S. has spent annually between $332 and $527 billion annually since the end of the Cold War.2 The end of the Soviet military threat gave rise to hope of a "peace dividend" and to political efforts both to reduce the defense budget and redirect spending from the military to domestic social programs, but the American defense budget never fell below 85% of the highest Cold War levels achieved during the Reagan buildup in the late 1980s. The U.S. accounts for nearly half the world's military expenditure, outspending on defense the next fourteen largest military powers combined.3


The events of September 11th and subsequent War on Terror shifted serious debate about the size of the American military budget from "how much should it be reduced?" to "how much should it be increased?" Without much contention in the academic or public sphere, the answer to the latter question seems to be "quite a lot." The Bush administration's defense budget for fiscal year 2009 (FY09) requests $514.4 billion to fund the peacetime costs of the Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, the administration requests $70 billion for expenses related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (or the "Global War on Terror").4 Additional funding beyond this $70 billion will almost certainly be required to cover war-related costs for the full year.


Whether the US military buildup since 9/11 will continue will depend on the decisions of the next administration and Congress. Given the U.S. national debt, as well as the need to meet the coming demands on Social Security and Medicare, the defense budget is likely to decrease remain constant in the coming decades. The he ability of the American military to meet future challenges is likely have as much to do with how wisely the U.S. spends on defense priorities as the absolute levels of defense spending


I. FY09 Budget Request


    • President Bush's FY 2009 budget requests $515.4 billion in discretionary authority for the DoD, which is an increase of $35.0 billion or 7.5 percent over funding for FY 2008. The Administration also requests an additional $70 billion for the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or (the "Global War or Terror," or GWOT). Additional funding beyond this $70 billion will almost certainly be required to cover war-related costs for the full year. For more information on the FY 2009 budget request see Fiscal Year 2009 Department of Defense Budget Release, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/2009_Budget_Rollout_Release.pdf.
    • FY 2009 Bush administration's Requested Budget for Defense:
      Click to enlarge

      Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf





II. Breakdown of FY09 Defense Budget Request


Table 1: Breakdown of FY 2009 Defense Budget Request by Category, Service and New Initiatives
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD FY 2009 Budget Request Summary Justification, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Overview.pdf





  • Breakdown of Budget Request by Functional Category:

Figure 1: FY 2009 Budget by Category
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD FY 2009 Budget Request Summary Justification, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Overview.pdf




III. FY 2009 Defense Budget Priorities


The top four priorities of defense planners are increase ground capabilities, improve force readiness, develop future combat capabilities, and improve quality of life.


    FY 2009 Budget Increases for Departmental Priorities:


Figure 2: Budget Increases for Departmental Priorities
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf.




A. Increase Ground Capabilities


Figure 3: Increase Ground Capabilities
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf.




    B. Improve Force Readiness


Figure 4: Improve Force Readiness
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf.




    C. Develop Future Combat Capabilities


Figure 5: Develop Future Combat Capabilities
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf.




    D. Improve Quality of Life


Figure 6: Improve Quality of Life
Click to enlarge

Source: DoD, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request, Briefing Slides, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/Summary_Docs/FY2009_Budget_Slides.pdf.




IV. DoD Budget Authority since 1948


Figure 7: DoD Budget Authority, 1947-2008
Click to enlarge

Source: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2008 (Green Book), March 2007, Table 6.9.




V. Defense Spending as a Percentage of the Total Federal Budget and Percentage of GDP Over Time


Figure 8: Defense Spending as a Percentage of Total Federal Outlays and as a Percentage of GDP, 1948-2008
Click to enlarge

Source: Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2008, Table 3.1, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2008/pdf/hist.pdf




VI. Spending by Title Over Time
Click to enlarge

Source: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2008 (Green Book/), March 2007, available at http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/fy2008_greenbook.pdf.




VII. U.S. Military Expenditures vs. the World


Figure 9: Top 15 Military Spenders in the World, 2006
Click to enlarge

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), SIPRI Yearbook 2007: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), Appendix 8A See also http://www.sipri.org/contents/milap/milex/mex_wnr_table.html




VIII. U.S. spending on Iraq and Afghanistan
Click to enlarge

Source: Amy Belasco, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, CRS Report (February 8, 2008). Available at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf.




Recommended Reading
BACK TO TOP

  • Holding the Line: U.S. Defense Alternatives for the Early 21st Century, Cindy Williams (ed.) (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001).
  • The Changing Dynamics of U.S. Defense Spending, Leon Sigal (ed.) (London: Praeger, 1999).
  • The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans, breaks down spending nicely in a variety of ways, provides numerous interesting graphs and figures on military spending: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7004/01-06-DPRDetailedUpdate.pdf
  • National Priorities Project (Amherst, Mass.) has figures on spending and compares them with other budgetary needs: http://costofwar.com/numbers.html. Similarly, see the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (Washington, D.C.) for a broader gauge of military spending within the budget process: http://www.cbpp.org/pubs/fedbud.htm
  • Congress and Defense Spending: The Distributive Politics of Military Procurement (Congressional Studies Series, V. 3) by Barry S. Rundquist and Thomas M. Carsey, eds., (University of Oklahoma Press, 2002)

Footnotes
BACK TO TOP

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2008 (Green Book/), March 2007, available at http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/fy2008_greenbook.pdf


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), SIPRI Yearbook 2007: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), Appendix 8A.


SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, http://www.sipri.org/contents/milap/milex/mex_database1.html


Fiscal Year 2009 Department of Defense Budget Release, Feb. 4, 2008, http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/2009_Budget_Rollout_Release.pdf


 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology