As the US economy tanked, the banks have been bailing out and the country losing its jobs, its military spending has continued to grow. For the past years, it is recorded to have increased more than 100%, which is very high compared to the height of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the Cold War. The money allocated for the defense budget is used to purchase sophisticated weapons that often do not make it into production, but when they do, they are just too expensive to maintain. This means the US has been maintaining its spending a full 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) just to maintain its arsenal.
However, military spending has become a hot topic during debates in many years now, where some people suggest of cutting it, while others are okay with increasing it. To come up with a good decision on our end for this matter, let us take a look at its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Military Spending
1. It is used for important military matters.
The US military budget is the portion of the country’s discretionary federal budget that is allocated to the Department of Defense or, more generally, the portion of the budget that is allocated to any expenditure related to the military. It is used to pay the training, health care and salaries of civilian and uniformed personnel; maintain arms, equipment and facilities; to fund operations; and to develop and buy new equipment. It funds all of the country’ military branches, such as the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
2. It allocates a certain amount for emergency and supplemental spending.
The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were largely financed through supplementary spending bills that are outside the federal budget and are also not included in the military budget figures. But since the fiscal year of 2010, the wars in these countries were put under the “Overseas Contingency Operations” category, making the budget for them included in the federal budget.
3. It is useful in deterring foreign threats.
Even though the Cold War is over and the threat from the Soviet Union is already eliminated, the country is still facing threats from smaller rogue nations, such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Cuba, Syria and Sudan.
4. It makes military preparation efficient.
It is critical to keep the military forces ready to fight and quickly win. The fund is used for this purpose, especially for major regional wars that could happen at the same time. Remember that readiness will decline if funds are not increased for training and equipment.
5. It supports peacekeeping in foreign regions.
There are several long-term demands on US troops from other regions, such as for peacekeeping in the Balkans for example.
6. It prevents recruitment and retention issues.
The armed services in the country have been facing problems with the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel due to low benefits and pays. This can be avoided with sufficient budget for the military.
7. It can keep defense factories operational.
Increasing military spending will enable struggling defense contractors to keep their factories operational and retain jobs at military bases.
8. It is spent to ensure national security.
The last on the “pros” list, but obviously one of the most important, military spending is done to make national security a priority.
List of Cons of Military Spending
For the opponents, they also have several reasons why we should not put too much focus on military spending, even suggesting cuts. Here are them:
1. Its share to global military spending is already too big.
Though the US’s military spending has declined since 1989, its share of total worldwide military spending has increased greatly. In fact, the country’s military spending and its allies’ account for more than half of the total amount worldwide. Moreover, the US spends 18 times the combined military budgets of the rogue nations.
2. It is used to fund unrealistic wars.
As opponents said, the current 2-war strategy is unrealistic, considering that the country is fighting two simultaneous wars with no help from the allies.
3. It may support the rhetoric about readiness that may not reflect reality accurately.
The fact that the country’s forces were overwhelmingly superior to its oppositions in the Iraq and Yugoslavia wars seems to contradict the idea that they might not be ready.
4. It is not balanced with foreign aid and diplomacy.
If foreign aid and diplomacy budgets were more balanced with military spending, there would be a better chance to prevent conflict and avoid military involvement. Also, let us remember that national security means more than military power. So, to sustain a secure nation, federal spending must be balanced among military defense, economic security, healthcare, education and job training.
5. It might be used irresponsibly.
Enlisted men and women who are having difficulties in supporting their families should receive a fair wage, adequate healthcare and housing. Financial support would be available for these needs if the country’s military authority improved the way it manages its funds to reduce fraud, waste and abuse.
Military budgets are only one of the many gauges of military power. Their spending adequacy depends on the capability and number of the country’s adversaries, how well it invests its funds and its objectives, among other factors. Now, policymakers have been debating whether the level of military spending is appropriate, considering the increasingly constrained budgets and the winding down of wars in other countries. This fiscal year of 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54% of all the country’s federal discretionary spending, which has a total of USD598.5 billion. It is created to cover a range of areas, including all Department of Defense’s regular activities, nuclear weapons spending, war spending, international military assistance and other expenditures related to the Pentagon.
Taking all the context of this article into consideration, are you a supporter or an opponent of military spending?
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.