How much is too much? The debate over the US military budget

The military budget is the portion of the discretionary United States federal budget allocated to the Department of Defense, or more broadly, the portion of the budget that goes to any military-related expenditures.

The military budget pays the salaries, training, and health care of uniformed and civilian personnel, maintains arms, equipment and facilities, funds operations, and develops and buys new equipment. The budget funds 4 branches of the U.S. military: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. In FY 2015, Pentagon and related spending totaled $598 billion, about 54% of the fiscal year 2015 U.S. discretionary budget. For FY 2017, President Obama proposed the base budget of $523.9 billion, which includes an increase of $2.2 billion over the FY 2016 enacted budget of $521.7 billion.

For the period 2010-14, SIPRI found that the United States was the world’s biggest exporter of major arms, accounting for 31 percent of global shares, followed by Russia with 27 percent. The USA delivered weapons to at least 94 recipients.

The United States was also the world’s eighth largest importer of major military equipment for the same period. The main imports were 19 transport aircraft from Italy; and equipment produced in the US under license–including 252 trainer aircraft of Swiss design, 223 light helicopters of German design and 10 maritime patrol aircraft of Spanish design.

On March 16, 2017 President Trump submitted his request to Congress for $639 billion in military spending—$54 billion—which represents a 10 percent increase—for FY 2018 as well as $30 billion for FY2017 which ends in September. With a total federal budget of $3.9 trillion for FY2018, the increase in military spending would result in deep cuts to many other federal agencies and domestic programs, as well as the State Department. Trump had pledged to “rebuild” the military as part of his 2016 Presidential campaign.