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What is the Real US Defence Budget?

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posted on Feb, 5 2008 @ 11:35 PM
Interesting commentary piece that calls for discussion (by Congress, but I think the ATSers'll do just fine!).

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.

When I was younger and the world looked a little different than it does today (no Checkpoint Charlie, for one thing), it used to be instructive/constructive when debating MAD/nukes etc to compare the US defence budget with the defence budgets of the rest of the world. Not in per capita terms, but in straight-up $ terms.

I realise now that that was a somewhat limited argument. And yet it was also somewhat true in its basic truth:

"The US outspends the resot of the world on defence. Is that entirely necessary?"

Yes and no.

My 2 cents on this piece by Kaplan agree with some of his points.

1. The world did not change on Sep 11, 2001. It did change during April, 2003, 'though.

2. I find Kaplan's general thrust here to be very correct:

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.

Now, this doesn't even mention the Marine Corps, who are doing a whole hell of a lot more in Iraq than their parents are. But, why must the USN and USAF budgets increase to match the Army's if they are not doing equal amounts of the fighting (and, therefore, dying)?

Yes, big shiny new toys are expensive and no, I do not advocate the instant cancellation of those programmes, especially not when O/S allies are directly involved in them.

However, there is something to be said for slowing some programmes down.

But the real point here is that no-one is even questioning these automatic budgetary increases vis-a-vis matching expenditure.


(ps another fun link:

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