Tag Archives: Military spending

Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault, by Sheldon Richman

The $54 billion increase in military spending President Trump requested is more than the entire military budget of every nation except Saudi Arabia and China. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:

President Trump’s budget proposal would increase military spending $54 billion, not quite a 10 percent increase over the current level. According to Quartz, the increase alone is more than all but two countries – China and Saudi Arabia – spend on their militaries. (China spends $145 billion, Saudi Arabia $57 billion, Russia $47, and Iran $16 billion, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports.)

Meanwhile, Trump implies that NATO members take advantage of America by not paying enough for own defense. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Washington recently, Trump tweeted: “Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

As we’ve come to expect, Trump gets it wrong. NATO members don’t pay dues to NATO, and they don’t pay the United States for defense. However, NATO requires members to budget at least 2 percent of their GDP for their own militaries. Some members haven’t spent that much, but that has changed in recent years.

Trump leaves the impression that Americans shoulder an unnecessarily large military burden because some NATO members underfund their military establishments. But that’s nonsense because that’s not how things work in Washington. Americans don’t pay more because Germans Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Norwegians pay less.

At other times Trump seems to acknowledge this. In his campaign he never said the U.S. military budget would be smaller if NATO members paid up. Rather, he said he wanted to make America “strong again” – so strong that no one would dare “mess with us.” His budget message said, “In these dangerous times, this public safety and national security Budget Blueprint is a message to the world—a message of American strength, security, and resolve.” His address to a joint session of Congress also did not justify greater military spending by pointing to how little the allies spend. It was all about making America “great again.”

To continue reading: Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault

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U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country, by The Visual Capitalism

Good information on the American Empire’s outposts, and military spending, from visualcapitalist.com:

U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

200K ACTIVE TROOPS OVERSEAS IN 177 COUNTRIES

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week.

However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History.

To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget.

Country Military Spending (2015) Share

United States $596 billion 35.8%
China $215 billion 12.9%
Saudi Arabia $87 billion 5.2%
Russia $66 billion 4.0%
United Kingdom $55 billion 3.3%
India $51 billion 3.1%
France $51 billion 3.1%
Japan $41 billion 2.5%
Germany $39 billion 2.4%
South Korea $36 billion 2.2%
Others $427 billion 25.6%

“BE ALL YOU CAN BE”

With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017.

In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.

On a domestic basis, there are about 1.1 million active troops stationed in the United States, and here’s how they are grouped based on branch of service:

Military Branch Active Domestic Personnel As a Percentage
Army 394,236
35%
Navy 283,499
25%
Marine Corps 149,992
13%
Air Force 249,738
22%
Coast Guard 38,659
3%
Total 1,116,124
100%
Internationally, there are just under 200,000 troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.

To continue reading: U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

On Military and Spending, It’s Trump Versus Trump, by Ron Paul

Here’s two different perspectives on Donald Trump’s military policies—one from Trump and the other from Trump. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

It can be a challenge to follow the pronouncements of President Trump, as he often seems to change his position on any number of items from week to week, or from day to day, or even from minute to minute. Consider his speech last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It was reported as “fiery” and “blistering,” but it was also full of contradictions.

In the speech, President Trump correctly pointed out that the last 15 years of US military action in the Middle East has been an almost incomprehensible waste of money – six trillion dollars, he said – and that after all that US war and meddling the region was actually in worse shape than before we started.

It would have been better for US Presidents to have spent the last 15 years at the beach than to have pursued its Middle East war policy, he added, stating that the US infrastructure could have been rebuilt several times over with the money wasted on such militarism.

All good points from the President.

But then minutes later in the same speech he seemed to forget what he just said about wasting money on militarism. He promised he would be “upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything,” in what would be “one of the greatest military buildups in American history.”

This “greatest” military buildup is in addition to the trillions he plans on spending to make sure the US nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack” in the world, as he told the press last Thursday. And that is in addition to the trillion dollar nuclear “modernization” program that is carrying over from the Obama Administration.

Of course when it comes to nuclear weapons, the United States already is at the “top of the pack,” having nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads. How many times do we need to be able to blow up the world?

At CPAC, President Trump is worried about needlessly spending money on military misadventures, but then in the same speech he promised even more military misadventures in the Middle East.

To continue reading: On Military and Spending, It’s Trump Versus Trump

Pentagon Spending: Up, Up, and Away! by William J. Astore

Probably the most bloated bureaucracy on the planet is going to get more money from the Trump administration. The Defense Department has never passed an audit, and hasn’t won a real war in decades. Ah, but this is Eunuchville (see “Balls“), where nothing succeeds like failure. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value. Under the Trump administration, what is valued is spending on military weaponry and wars. The Pentagon is due to get a major boost under Trump, as reported by the Associated Press and FP: Foreign Policy:

Money train. It’s looking like it might be Christmas in February for the U.S. defense industry. The Pentagon has delivered a $30 billion wish list to Congress that would fund more ships, planes, helicopters, drones, and missiles, the AP reports.

And that might only be the beginning.

President Trump has already ordered the Pentagon to draft a “supplemental” budget for 2017 that would include billions more for the US military on top of the $600 billion the Obama administration budgeted for…

As FP’s Paul McLeary and Dan De Luce recently reported, there are proposals floating around for a defense budget as high as $640 billion for 2018, which would bust through congressionally-mandated spending caps that Democrats — and many Republicans — are happy to keep in place. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been tasked with completing the supplemental request by March 1.

The Pentagon, which has never passed a financial audit and which has wasted more than two trillion dollars over the years (this figure came in 2001, when Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense under Bush/Cheney), is due to be given even more money to spend, irrespective of past performance or future need.

Naturally, each military service is already posturing and clamoring for the extra money promised by Trump. Consider the US Navy, which, according to Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran, will be “Just Flat Out Out Of Money” without this supplemental funding boost from Congress.

 

How Not to Audit the Pentagon, by William Hartung

Why do war hawks, primarily Republicans, rail on about waste and fraud in government social programs, but are strangely silent about waste and fraud in the Pentagon? SLL would do away with at least 90 percent of both (not just the waste and fraud, but entire programs). Here’s a good look at some of the holes in the Pentagon’s accounts, from William Hartang at tomdispatch.com:

From spending $150 million on private villas for a handful of personnel in Afghanistan to blowing $2.7 billion on an air surveillance balloon that doesn’t work, the latest revelations of waste at the Pentagon are just the most recent howlers in a long line of similar stories stretching back at least five decades. Other hot-off-the-presses examples would include the Army’s purchase of helicopter gears worth $500 each for $8,000 each and the accumulation of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons components that will never be used. And then there’s the one that would have to be everyone’s favorite Pentagon waste story: the spending of $50,000 to investigate the bomb-detecting capabilities of African elephants. (And here’s a shock: they didn’t turn out to be that great!) The elephant research, of course, represents chump change in the Pentagon’s wastage sweepstakes and in the context of its $600-billion-plus budget, but think of it as indicative of the absurd lengths the Department of Defense will go to when what’s at stake is throwing away taxpayer dollars.

Keep in mind that the above examples are just the tip of the tip of a titanic iceberg of military waste. In a recent report I did for the Center for International Policy, I identified 27 recent examples of such wasteful spending totaling over $33 billion. And that was no more than a sampling of everyday life in the twenty-first-century world of the Pentagon.

The staggering persistence and profusion of such cases suggests that it’s time to rethink what exactly they represent. Far from being aberrations in need of correction to make the Pentagon run more efficiently, wasting vast sums of taxpayer dollars should be seen as a way of life for the Department of Defense. And with that in mind, let’s take a little tour through the highlights of Pentagon waste from the 1960s to the present.

How Many States Can You Lose Jobs In?

The first person to bring widespread public attention to the size and scope of the problem of Pentagon waste was Ernest Fitzgerald, an Air Force deputy for management systems. In the late 1960s, he battled that service to bring to light massive cost overruns on Lockheed’s C-5A transport plane. He risked his job, and was ultimately fired, for uncovering $2 billion in excess expenditures on a plane that was supposed to make the rapid deployment of large quantities of military equipment to Vietnam and other distant conflicts a reality.

The cost increase on the C-5A was twice the price Lockheed had initially promised, and at the time one of the largest cost overruns ever exposed. It was also an episode of special interest then, because Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had been pledging to bring the efficient business methods he had learned as Ford Motors’ president to bear on the Pentagon’s budgeting process.

No such luck, as it turned out, but Fitzgerald’s revelations did, at least, spark a decade of media and congressional scrutiny of the business practices of the weapons industry. The C-5A fiasco, combined with Lockheed’s financial troubles with its L-1011 airliner project, led the company to approach Congress, hat in hand, for a $250 million government bailout. Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, who had helped bring attention to the C-5A overruns, vigorously opposed the measure, and came within one vote of defeating it in the Senate.

In a time-tested lobbying technique that has been used by weapons makers ever since, Lockheed claimed that denying it loan guarantees would cost 34,000 jobs in 35 states, while undermining the Pentagon’s ability to prepare for the next war, whatever it might be. The tactic worked like a charm. Montana Senator Lee Metcalf, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the bailout, said, “I’m not going to be the one to put those thousands of people out of work.” An analysis by the New York Times found that every senator with a Lockheed-related plant in his or her state voted for the deal.

By rewarding Lockheed Martin for its wasteful practices, Congress set a precedent that has never been superseded. A present-day case in point is — speak of the devil — Lockheed Martin’s F-35 combat aircraft. At $1.4 trillion in procurement and operating costs over its lifetime, it will be the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Pentagon (or anyone else on Planet Earth), and the warning signs are already in: tens of billions of dollars in projected cost overruns and myriad performance problems before the F-35 is even out of its testing phase. Now the Pentagon wants to rush the plane into production by making a “block buy” of more than 400 planes that will involve little or no accountability regarding the quality and cost of the final product.

Predictably, almost five decades after the C-5A contretemps, Lockheed Martin has deployed an inflationary version of the jobs argument in defense of the F-35, making the wildly exaggerated claim that the plane will produce 125,000 jobs in 46 states. The company has even created a handy interactive map to show how many jobs the program will allegedly create state by state. Never mind the fact that weapons spending is the least efficient way to create jobs, lagging far behind investment in housing, education, or infrastructure.

To continue reading: How Not to Audit the Pentagon 

The Top 15 Military Spenders in the World, by Martin Matishak

US military spending is about one-third of the entire world’s military spending, and the US spends over twice as much as the next nation, China. Number three on the list is surprising. From Martin Matishak at thefiscaltimes.com:

Global military spending increased to $1.7 trillion in 2015, with the U.S. being the biggest spender by a wide margin.

A new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows that military expenditures across the globe climbed by 1 percent from the previous year, the first such increase since 2011. The growth was driven by spending in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Oceania, and some states in the Middle East, according to the study.

Overall, military expenditures were equal to 2.3 percent of the global gross domestic product.

The data is culled from various sources, including a questionnaire that is sent out annually to national governments. Some countries, such as China, do not participate and estimates are used. A handful of countries, including Cuba and Uzbekistan, are excluded due to a lack of trustworthy data.

The report attributes the uptick in spending to a number of complex conflicts currently playing out around the globe, including: the battle against the Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria; Chinese expansion in the South China Sea; the Saudi-led war in Yemen; heightened fears of Iran’s military; and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continued support of separatists in Ukraine.

Of the 15 countries detailed in the report, the largest growth was by Australia at 7.8 percent, while the biggest decrease was by Italy at –9.9 percent.

Here are the world’s top military spenders:

The United States. With $596 billion for defense in 2015, the U.S. was the largest spender by far. However, the huge price tag was actually a drop of 2.4 percent from 2014, though that’s a slower rate of decline than past years. Still, the U.S. spent nearly as much on its military as the next eight biggest militaries combined.

China. Beijing came in second, as it did in 2014, with an estimated $215 billion in spending. That figure represents an increase of 7.4 percent from the previous year, although the rate of increase is beginning to slow in line with the country’s weakening economic growth.

Saudi Arabia. Coming in at third with spending of $87.2 billion, Saudi Arabia overtook Russia, mainly due to the fall in the value of the ruble. Additionally, Riyadh’s military campaign against Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies has led to billions of dollars more in purchases.

Russia. The fourth-largest spender at $66 billion, the fall in oil prices meant that the country’s increase of 7.5 percent in 2015 was considerably lower than projected in its budget, according to SPRI.

“The economic crisis related to falling oil and gas prices, coupled with economic sanctions, dramatically reduced Russian Government revenues,” the analysis states. “Actual military expenditure was 3 per cent lower in 2015 than originally planned.”

United Kingdom. The drop in the value of the euro was a major factor in France falling into seventh place and the United Kingdom climbing to fifth, with $55.5 billion in spending.

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/04/05/Top-15-Military-Spenders-World?utm_campaign=541c47950e351dbe08037e5f&utm_source=boomtrain&utm_medium=email&bt_alias=eyJ1c2VySWQiOiJiOWE0NTMxOC1jMTJkLWVmY2ItODI2OC1iOTIyYWRkNTk2MzYifQ%3D%3D

Obama Wants U.S. To Spend More On Europe’s Defense: Europeans Should Pay Instead, by Doug Bandow

Making the countries who are benefitting from the US defense shield pick up more of the costs is an issue from which Donald Trump is getting big traction. From Doug Bandow at forbes.com:

The U.S. plans on filling Eastern Europe with thousands of troops along with vehicles and weapons to equip an armored combat brigade. That will require a special budget request of $3.4 billion for next year. Uncle Sam may be bankrupt, but nothing is too expensive for our pampered European allies, who enjoy greater wealth while spending far less on defense.

The U.S. plans on stationing up to 5,000 troops along with the prepositioned equipment, on top of 65,000 already deployed in Europe. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter opined: “We’re going to have to help countries to harden themselves against Russian influence … and also mount—as we did in decades past—staunch defense of our NATO allies.” The Pentagon calls this the “European Reassurance Initiative.”

An unnamed administration official told the New York Times, that the step “fulfills promises we’ve made to NATO” and “also shows our commitment and resolve to individual countries to which we will be putting a persistent rotational presence of forces to demonstrate our resolve in their, and our, collective defense.” Moreover, said another anonymous aide, the administration sought to respond “in a more programmatic and consistent way” to the threat environment. “This is a longer-term response to a changed security environment in Europe. This reflects a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor.”

However, the basic question remains unanswered: Why is the U.S. defending Europe? Doing so made sense at one moment in time: when the war-ravaged states of Western Europe were vulnerable to coercion if not aggression by the triumphant Red Army after it (more than the Western allies) defeated Nazi Germany. However, the need for America to play an overwhelming role disappeared as the continent recovered. With the end of the Cold War any theoretical justification for U.S. defense hegemony disappeared. The Soviet Union collapsed, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the Eastern European nations raced westward. There was no more “there, there” to the threat of aggression from the east.

To continue reading: Obama Wants U.S. To Spend More On Europe’s Defense: Europeans Should Pay Instead