The Significance of Divergent U.S.-USSR Military Expenditure

by Arthur J. Alexander, Abraham S. Becker, William E. Hoehn


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Due to steady increases in Soviet military expenditure over 15 years, plus sharp decreases in U.S. outlays in the first part of the 1970s, the size of Soviet military programs has exceeded that of U.S. programs for several years. The margin has been widening and is forecast to persist. The disparity in many mission outlay areas is impressively large: a three-to-one advantage to the Soviet Union in Strategic Forces; about 75 percent more than the United States for General Purpose Forces; and near parity with the United States in Support Forces. In military investment the Soviet margin has been 50 to 80 percent above the United States. These disparities constitute an additional indicator that the United States needs military effort. However, the so-called "defense spending gap" cannot indicate the U.S. effort required. The latter depends on the mix of military capabilities necessary to meet peacetime, crisis and long-term competition criteria.

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