Which countries have the largest defense budgets?

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26 2014 12:12 a.m. MST

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday that the Obama administration plans to drastically reduce military spending in the 2015 budget plan.

Controversy has surrounded the announcement, with some claiming the reduction to be unnecessary and others arguing that the cuts aren't deep enough.

Part of the discussion has focused on America's undeniable advantage over every other country in the world when it comes to military size and support. To provide some context, we've compiled a list of the 15 countries that spend the most on their military, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The institute tracks the overall amount each country spends on defense, as well as percentage of GDP and what percent each country's defense spending makes up of the world's military expenses.

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curlingsteel
Eagle Mountain, UT

Why do I have to click 15 times on this article to get the facts?
Come on, DN, is this so you can get more clicks for your advertizers?
I can look up all this info, and more, all on one page, if I go to a popular wiki site, and it provides graphs, maps and spreadsheets with actual articles.
This is news???

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

Lets see. There are 15 countries on the list. We spend about what the the next highest 11 combined spend.

You really dont think that we could reduce military spending, spend more wisely and still be able to defend our country?

Think about it. Use logic and common sense. Dont just follow what party leaders push. They are paid handsomely by the defense industry to push the narrative.

TimBehrend
Auckland NZ, 00

The figure for the U.S. budget is low. Perhaps it doesn't include all the costs of wars and military establishments, global surveillance, veteran benefits and the maintenance of an infrastructure of thousands of bases at home and close to a thousand overseas in other people's countries. Those troves of WMD are not only dangerous, but wasteful overkill. A reduction is long overdue. And a housecleaning. Far too many no-bid contracts are offered to politically connected corporations. The military-industrial-congressional complex is deeply corrupt and has done irreparable harm to country - far more than any foreign enemy in our history.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

It's easy for other countries to spend less, when we're taking care of the world. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to have our true allies beef up their contribution a bit and let us ease off and pay down our national debt.

Itsjstmeagain
Merritt Island, Fl

The Defense Budget (Military Industrial Complex) is a jobs program. Both sides of the Isle participate. Today's contracts are developed by placing the subcontracts and vendor selection in areas with powerful and influential Congressmen. They place programs unwanted by the Services in the budget to satisify their voters. Curent and past Congressional actions included keeping the tank plant in Lima OH open but the Army doesn't want or need it. What Congressman is from Ohio? Boeing convinced Congress several years ago to buy 10 more C-17's the DOD and the USAF did not want. That program has work being done in 45 States. The good news is the funding was to come out of hide, the bad is what wasn't done?
We are seeing more systems developed not by engineering design but by political influence.

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

To put things into perspective, both the US and Russia are spending some 4.4% of GDP on its military, although the US figure is probably skewed as TimBehrend points out above.

But still due to the immense size of the US economy that 4.4% ends up being 39% of the world's total military spending so the chances of a combined China-Russian attack (14.7%) doing much harm (unless its nuclear) to the US is fairly low, even if spending goes down to around 2% of GDP -which would correspond to about 20% of the world's total spending anyways. And to be fair we should be comparing all of the EU to the US to be realistic. So from that list the EU is at around 12% plus about 3%odd for all the smaller nations.

So there is plenty of room to lower military spending significantly. But if my memory serves me well I believe that a part of the prophecies of the end of days is that the US will waste its treasure (money) and youth in foreign wars until it goes bankrupt so I doubt they will cut a lot, but then maybe my memory is off a bit.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

Our Defense budget definitely needs to be cut, and the focus should be especially on reducing non-military spending within the Defense Department, specifically a significant reduction in military pensions.

We spend over $50 BILLION just on pensions for 20+ year retirees. That's more than twice much as Canada spends on their entire military . . . soldiers, marines, sailors, tanks, planes, new equipment, weapons, military bases . . . everything.

The purpose of the Defense Department is to defend this nation, not run a retirement community. And some of these guys are in their late thirties and early forties when they retire. They could support themselves like everyone else and GET A JOB.

That $50 billion dollar figure does not even include all the other perks given out to everyone who leaves the military without serving 20 years or more . . . free college tuition, loans, etc. and I'm all for those things. But people getting paid 50 billion taxpayer dollars a year to do NOTHING? That's wrong. It cuts too deep into the defense budget.

The Defense Department needs money to defend us. The DOD should defend us and not give so much to military retirees, many of whom spend much of their free time complaining about how social programs waste their tax dollars.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

It's easy to take one stat and try to make an entire argument out of it. But these things need to be put into perspective. For example, how far do you think $1 goes in China vs the United States? Since China often uses "slave" labor (children, women, etc), we can get tennis shoes from China much cheaper than US-made shoes, even after all the extra costs with shipping them to the US.

How many Chinese soldiers can be hired for $1M? How many US soldiers? These numbers require context to make them meaningful.

The threats against the US are real and the technology gap is closing rapidly. In some areas, we are already behind just as we were in the days of Sputnik. Right now, there are wars we would not win.

Sleep comfortably, my friends. Your children and grandchildren may not be able to.

andyjaggy
American Fork, UT

Good to see some numbers actually put to the issues. It pretty much confirms what I have been saying, we could significantly cut our budget and still have more than enough to adequately defend ourselves.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

GaryO: It appears you never served in the Armed Forces. I spent six years in the US Navy so I'm not one of those receiving all those benefits. But I do remember living on a pittance while I was serving. I served in relative peace time (1976-1982) so I never had to put my life on the line in combat. But there are thousands since me who have done exactly that. And for almost no pay. I do not resent the benefits given to our military retirees. They earned it with twenty or more years of Spartan existence.

Majordad
Garland, UT

Yes we do need to reduce the military expenses. After spending over 3 decades in the military I can say that easily.
First we need to radically cut all active military components to levels prior to WW2 and then increase the National Guard at least that much if not more. Yes I mean to move active duty positions to the Guard, where it costs ¼ of what the same units cost on active duty.

The argument that we need a standing army to deal with the world events has been proven false after over a decade of combat where Guard units have served with distinction and honor alongside active units. Today it takes no more (perhaps actually less 'days') to mobilized a guard unit to deploy than it does an active duty unit. Old arguments that reserve components just weren't up to the task of begin ready has been killed off.

We can and must do this for our nation to be strong.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

Joe5-

I'm not the only one who thinks the Defense Department should concentrate on defending this nation.

"Military retiree benefits cost the Pentagon $50 billion a year. That's more than next year's entire budget for the Department of Homeland Security. There are 1.9 million military retirees drawing pay and benefits, compared to 1.5 million in the active duty force. In 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said those costs are 'eating the Defense Department alive.'"

In fact, it's not unknown for truly patriotic high ranking brass to REFUSE their benefits . . . like Major General Arnold Panero.

"'We can't let these trends continue so that the [Department of Defense] turns into a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist,' . . .

People at the Pentagon know that the issue is a huge problem, Punaro says, but the problem is finding someone willing to take up the fight . . . What concerns Punaro is the cost of retiree benefits weakening the current and future military.

'I am very concerned that as current trends continue, this country will not have the strong military it needs 20 years from now, because all of the money is going to go to pay people that are no longer serving,' he says"

Unbiased1979
dallas, TX

I think one thing people need understand is that while China and Russia's budget are much lower, they have mandatory military service. And while there are a number of ways to get out of military service, both of those countries save tens of billions per year through this practice. I think we need to broadly reduce the size of the federal government, including military spending. But, that doesn't mean we need to reduce the quality of the protection we recieve. Our givernment just needs to spend more wisely.

B ob
Richmond, CA

The article is very light-weighted. No breakdown on what money is generated back into the economy, what benefits are provided to the families of the fallen, medical care during and after service, safety equipment provided and whether their military are voluntary or required.

I also wonder if we are counting the job skills that veterans leave the military and the educational benefits. It is also the only way out of poor circumstances for some youth. I know that the military health and dental screenings are the first such medical care some young recruits have had. I look at the military not only as a force but as a training source for young men and women.

TheBleak
West Jordan, UT

AllBlack-
Where is that prophecy located? I would like to look it up.

Archie1954
Vancouver, BC

This position as number 1 in military expenditures is not something to be proud of. It points to a serious problem with American government priorities. The President has been recently criticized by certain Republicans with "he would rather spend money on food stamps than on the military". Now if that doesn't give you pause to wonder how any politician can use that as a criticism, than I have no hope for you ever understanding what I'm talking about. A nation which has militarism as its main priority is a nation that will suffer the consequences of its misdirection. Those that live by the sword will also die by it. Isn't that what the Bible states?

American First
Merced, CA

The price of Freedom is high...Remember Americans, the primary duty of Government mandated by the U.S. Constitution is National Defense. The spin from the American left on this subject fits nicely into their template for sabotaging the Union. Believe this, China and Russia are accelerating their military build-up at Cold War levels and America is quickly diminishing both in Militarily, Economically and culturally at the hands of incompetent and derelict leadership

romeisn'tburning
layton, ut

This is incorrect, the amount spent on the US military is closer to $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion) annually. The figure of $682 billion only accounts for the National Defense spending. When you include the costs of military retirement pensions, veteran benefits, homeland security, and the interest of the loans used to fuel this spending the number is significantly higher. Just like Rome, Byzantine, and Britain before us our inability to regulate our defense spending will ultimately bankrupt us. Now is the time to end this spending and return to a state of fiscal solvency. We have the resources, and the industry to create an economy that does not require a globe straddling empire to sustain itself.

American First
Merced, CA

AllBlack, how about this prophecy? “There is a land beyond the Rocky Mountains that will be invaded by the heathen Chinese unless great care and protection be given.”

AllBlack
San Diego, CA

@TheBleak
West Jordan, UT

I'll try writing this so that its approved by deseret news, who may not want a book title written here, although it is available at Deseret Books online.

I recently read this in one of the LDS classic bestsellers written by D S Crowther back in the 60's concerning the subject of prophecy, which he covers by directly quoting many church leaders. I can't give you a page number, I don't have the book here with me. But it is easy to look this up in both the web and places like Amazon or Deseret Books. Some of those listed there have already happened, and in the context of the war on terror, some of our church leaders talks are extraordinary.

But if you're wondering, no it isn't scripture nor first presidency declarations. It has both the white horse prophesy (mostly rejected) and the McKay prophesy on the peaceful overthrow of communism too. So if you read it you still have to make up your own mind about the prophecies listed there.

stuff
Provo, UT

How much of the U.S. budget actually went to other countries? Like most statistics, I don't fully trust these, either.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Lots of incorrect assertions and the article itself has data that is highly dubious.

A few points:

US Military retirement costs ARE included in the DOD budget. Those costs are high because we are an all VOLUNTEER force, drawing from a relatively small percentage of the population that meets the age, mental, education and physical standards. Those people have lots of other options that do not require 6-12 month deployments away from family, getting shot at, working long hours (40 hour week is a luxury few ever know) and frequent moves with consequent hardships for families. Thus there have to be incentives to get people to sign up and stay in. If it is such a good deal, the whiners should run down to the recruiters and get on this gravy train.

Other country's military costs are not as transparently reported as ours, nor can we compare our costs with Chinese wages and construction costs.

Yes, we do provide protection for too many other countries, but is it better to engage adversaries far away, or on our own beaches and cities?

Many "non-military" items are forced into DOD budgets by Congress and should not be counted.

1covey
Salt Lake City, UT

America entered WWI,WWII, and Korea unprepared; And a lot of Americans died because of that fact. Even recently,post-Korea, Leaders of hostile foreign nations considered us weak-willed (which proved true upon occasion). As for some other comments, Kipling said it best:" While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy fall/behind,'//But it's 'please to walk in front sir,' when there's trouble in the/wind".(Rudyard Kipling's Verse, Doubleday)

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