January 26, 2020

CUT IT IN HALF AND IT'S STILL TOO MUCH:

Why Does the U.S. Spend So Much on Defense? (PATRICK COLLINS, 1/26/20, defense One)

To put U.S. military spending in context, it is useful to compare what it spends to that of others. In fiscal 2018, the Defense Department's budget of $649 billion -- not even counting the contingency fund -- was larger than the combined spending of the next seven largest militaries: $609 billion (China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, UK, Germany).

As large as the DOD budget is, the total amount spent by the United States on national security is actually much higher. The largest chunk outside DOD is spent by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which cares for former troops injured in past conflicts and funds the pensions of military retirees. The VA spent $201 billion in 2019, topping $200 million for the first time but not the last; the 2020 request was $220.2 billion. Adding the VA's budget brings total national-security spending to $887 billion. 

America's nuclear weapons and naval reactors are maintained not by the Pentagon by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, which also works to counter proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Adding NNSA's $15.2 billion makes the total $902.2 billion.

It would be remiss not to include the intelligence community, or IC, though this can be a little complicated. The Director of National Intelligence makes public the combined unclassified budgets of the 17 agencies that make up the community. In 2019, that was $81.7 billion. This figure includes $21.5 billion for the Military Intelligence Program (funded by DOD and therefore not added to our burgeoning tally) and $60.2 billion for the National Intelligence Program, which covers non-military organizations such as the CIA. We don't know how much the Pentagon kicks in for the National Intelligence Program; it could be up to $60.2 billion.

Therefore, America's true total spending on national security in 2019, when including the DoD, VA, NNSA, and some portion of the IC's non-military intelligence program, is probably between $902.2 and $962.4 billion. And yet this total does not include domestic security elements such as the Department of Homeland Security (2019: $72.3 billion) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



Posted by at January 26, 2020 12:00 AM

  

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