US Military Expenditures


Jon Kofas said: The U.S.spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined.  Randy Black comments: The above statement is unsupportable if one compares the real costs of the various millions in the services of China, Russia, the other Americas and the EU. At best, Mr. Kofas’ claim is a stretch for the truth in any discussion of military spending. Mr. Kofas’ claim is not relevant when one compares a mid-level US Air Force officer in the US, or a pilot in the EU military, who individually earn above $80,000 annually versus his Russian counterpart earning $6,000 annually, if the Russian is even paid. Certainly the US and the EU spend more, but is the actually claim relevant when comparing an officer earning $6,000 per month to one who is paid $500 per month, if he’s paid at all?
 
Of course, this line of discussion assumes that Russia is actually paying its forces, which Russia is notorious for not doing. Heck, Russia doesn’t even provide housing for tens of thousands of its officer corps, much less the entire 1.2 million total manpower pool, and officially advises its troops to fish and grow their own vegetables to feed themselves. A black joke in the military is that if all of the soldiers were provided housing tomorrow, the military would disband because there would no longer be any incentive to serve. Indeed, it would be impossible to retain officers given their low salaries. For example a platoon commander is paid 4,500 rubles, or $150 and a company commander receives 5,200 rubles, or $175…. Only 20% of those drafted into the Russian military have a primary or 8-year education. …Fifty-three percent have health problems and therefore cannot serve in the Strategic Missile Force, the Main Intelligence Department Special Forces, the Airborne Force, the border guards or the FSB. …About 33% of conscripts did not work or study before they were drafted. …2.7% are drug addicts, and 5% are convicted of felonies. Few officers will agree to train such conscripts, especially because of low pay and inadequate living conditions.

Shall we discuss China’s 2.7 million strong military? Certainly, it’s lower in terms of real dollars spent but again, when you pay peanuts, the peanuts go further than in the US. But is the real dollar expenditure comparison relevant to Mr. Kofas’ claim? I think not.

US military expenditures hovers in the 3.5 percent range.
Sources: http://www.cdi.org/russia/333-12.cfm
http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/FMSOPUBS/ISSUES/putin.htm
http://www.china.org.cn/english/MATERIAL/8919.htm
http://english.people.com.cn/200207/23/eng20020723_100193.shtml
http://www.taxfoundation.org/2004budgetperspective.html

RH: Can Cameron Sawyer confirm what RAndy says about the Russian armed forces? History shows that it is unwise to underestimate (or overestimate) the military strength of a rival country.
 
Jon Kofas said: The U.S.spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined.  Randy Black commented: The above statement is unsupportable if one compares the real costs of the various millions in the services of China, Russia, the other Americas and the EU. At best, Mr. Kofas’ claim is a stretch for the truth in any discussion of military spending. Christopher  Jones says:
Randy Black is yet again engaging in smoke and mirrors instead of addressing the facts:  The defense budget of the US equals the entire GDP  (!) of Russia.  This means that Putin could pay his soldiers in gold rubles and the American budget would still dwarf its puny Russian counterpart.  RH: Will the US military budget wreck the American economy?

Holger Terp writes:To get some facts regarding US military expenditures, please see the yearbooks of SIPRI. Their new edition is expected in May or June.
SIPRI = Stockholms International Peace Research Institute.
Its Yearbook has been published since 1967.




Ronald Hilton 2005

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last updated: June 8, 2005