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What's Really in the U.S. Military Budget?
Much more than the oft-cited $515.4 billion.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Feb. 4, 2008, at 6:51 PM ET
Fighter planes push war spending to sky-high levels
It's time for our annual game: How much is really in the U.S. military budget?
As usual, it's about $200 billion more than most news stories are reporting.
Look at the budget share distributed to each of the three branches of the armed services. The Army gets 33 percent, the Air Force gets 33 percent, and the Navy gets 34 percent.
As I have noted before (and, I'm sure, will again), the budget has been divvied up this way, plus or minus 2 percent, each and every year since the 1960s. Is it remotely conceivable that our national-security needs coincide so precisely—and so consistently over the span of nearly a half-century—with the bureaucratic imperatives of giving the Army, Air Force, and Navy an even share of the money? Again, the question answers itself. As the Army's budget goes up to meet the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force's and Navy's budgets have to go up by roughly the same share, as well.