Military Budgets and Defense Spending


The portion of the national budget that is allocated to defense covers salaries, training, and health care; maintains and purchases arms, equipment, and facilities; funds military operations; and funds the development of new technologies. RAND analyzes defense expenditures and advises military and civilian decisionmakers on options to maximize the effectiveness, continuity, and innovation of the nation's military force.

  • An aerial view of The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., photo by Ivan Cholakov/Getty Images


    Gaps Exist Between U.S. Strategy and Military Capacity

    May 7, 2019

    There will not be enough resources to close the technological, doctrinal, and budgetary gaps between stated U.S. aims and the military capabilities needed to achieve them. What changes to U.S. strategy and investments could help close these gaps, and which missions should be prioritized?

  • Australian flag waving in blue sky, photo by MicroStockHub/Getty Images


    B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Is Handy, but It May Not Be the Perfect Fit

    Dec 2, 2019

    Some in the Australian security community have called for significant changes to the Australian Defence Force structure in response to changing global strategic conditions. Before Australia considers any new long-range strike capabilities, an analysis of alternatives that examines both cost and capability is essential.

Explore Military Budgets and Defense Spending

  • A Marine fires a Javelin during Operation Lava Viper at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 27, 2015, photo by Cpl. Ricky Gomez/U.S. Marine Corps


    Indications of Institutional Inertia: The FY2021 USMC Budget

    The Grim Reaper is a 700-foot-tall series of hills that Marine Corps recruits must summit to graduate from boot camp. As the Marine Corps attempts to transform from a second land army and counterinsurgency force to operate within contested maritime spaces, its recent budget request suggests that it will need to climb its own Grim Reaper to get there.

    Mar 26, 2020

  • Report

    Assessment of Alternative Funding Models for Activities in RDECOM (Now CCDC) and ATEC

    Current funding models and impacts of alternative models are assessed by the authors to help the U.S. Army increase the transparency of reimbursable accounting practices and improve auditability at two Army commands.

    Feb 6, 2020

  • Report

    Baselining Defense Acquisition

    In support of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to improve mission effectiveness and efficiency, this report identifies DoD government functions for procurement and acquisition, estimating their costs at between $29 billion and $38 billion.

    Nov 20, 2019

  • Servicemen disembark from a Ka-29 helicopter during an exercise staged by the Baltic Fleet forces of the Russian Navy to train amphibious assault, at Khmelevka firing ground in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, April 4, 2019, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters


    How Capable Are Russia's Armed Forces?

    Since 2008, the Russian military has become more capable, not only of defending its territory but also of launching invasions against its neighbors. Russia's defense spending is now in decline, but NATO policymakers and defense planners should continue to monitor its military improvements.

    Oct 29, 2019

  • Sgt. Angie Novoa, a warehouse chief with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, organizes a shelf in her warehouse on Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, Oct. 28, 2016, photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/U.S. Marine Corps


    Right-Sizing Marine Corps Intermediate Supply Units: A Staffing Model and Proposed Process Improvements

    The authors present a methodology to determine optimal personnel capacity for Marine Corps intermediate-level supply accounts and other measures to help these accounts work more effectively and efficiently to meet supported units' needs.

    Oct 14, 2019

  • Old Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) Fort Sam Houston, photo by Beth E. Lachman


    Improving Army Installation Facility and Land Use Deals and Partnerships

    Army installation facility and land use deals and partnerships can provide substantial benefits such as include saving costs and improving installation operations. What are the most promising approaches and practices that can be used to develop and implement these deals and partnerships?

    Sep 16, 2019

  • Blog

    Hospital Prices, Border Solutions, Sri Lanka: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on hospital prices, common-sense solutions to the border crisis, myths about the Sri Lanka attacks, and more.

    May 10, 2019

  • News Release

    U.S. Military Gaps in Funding and Personnel Need Addressing to Deter Global Aggression

    A significant gap exists between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities required to implement those policies successfully.

    May 7, 2019

  • Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after a meeting ahead of National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 4, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters


    Book Review: 'Unrivaled' by Michael Beckley

    In Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower Michael Beckley argues not only that U.S. preeminence is safer than most contemporary commentary would have one believe, but also that it is more resilient.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Soldiers in military gear are silhouetted against the setting sun.


    Strategic Rethink: America's Security Deficit

    The global security landscape is shifting dramatically. How can the United States protect itself in today's tumultuous world? This video provides an overview of findings from the second volume in RAND's Strategic Rethink series, which recommends a suite of options that could help policymakers ensure that resources remain aligned with strategic demands.

    Mar 7, 2019

  • Competitors prepare to fire during the 2015 Civilian Marksmanship Program National Trophy Pistol Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio, photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper/U.S. Army


    An Evaluation of the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety

    The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act required an evaluation of the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety and its Civilian Marksmanship Program. This report summarizes the RAND Arroyo Center evaluation.

    Feb 25, 2019

  • Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing about Defense Department readiness September 15, 2016, in Washington, D.C., photo by Scott M. Ash/U.S. Air Force


    Culture and Competition Among the U.S. Military Services

    The personalities of U.S. military services are alive and well. Their unique cultures impact how they compete for resources, authorities, access, and influence. And their competition on the bureaucratic battlefield changes as the environment changes. How might the services react to a sudden change in resource levels or region of focus?

    Feb 25, 2019

  • Report

    Estimating Potential Savings in Department of Defense Activities

    There is a push to make the U.S. government run like the private sector. Alternatives to this approach that attempt to account for the complexity and uniqueness of the U.S. Department of Defense are presented in this report.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Report

    Operating Under a Continuing Resolution: A Limited Assessment of Effects on Defense Procurement Contract Awards

    As described in this report, the authors developed an empirical basis for exploring policy issues pertaining to Department of Defense operations under a continuing resolution at the start of a fiscal year, which has become the norm in recent years.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • NATO Chiefs of Defense meet during the NATO Military Committee Conference at Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, September 28, 2018


    NATO Needs a European Level of Ambition

    As NATO finalizes its new political guidance designed to shape future military forces, it has the chance to both strengthen Europe’s commitment to burden-sharing and relieve American concern about the creation of a new European Army. Building an enhanced European capacity within NATO entails some risk, but the benefits may outweigh concerns.

    Dec 10, 2018

  • The Izumo warship moored at the harbor of the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, March 25, 2015


    Does Japan Need an Aircraft Carrier?

    Japan has not possessed an aircraft carrier in more than 70 years. But that may soon change as the Japanese government is debating retrofitting a class of destroyers to turn them into aircraft carriers. Considering both operational needs and resources limitations, does an aircraft carrier for Japan make sense?

    Oct 5, 2018

  • Soldiers set off for a foot patrol after disembarking from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan, September 4, 2018


    The Risks of Permanent War

    Why is America in Afghanistan? What interests justify its sacrifices? How will the war end? If the United States finds it hard to answer such questions after nearly two decades, the coming years are unlikely to provide clarity. If a campaign has no end, it can have no objective. If it has no objective, it cannot be won.

    Sep 28, 2018

  • Report

    Restoring U.S. Power Projection Capabilities: Responding to the 2018 National Defense Strategy

    This Perspective can help to inform upcoming decisions to improve U.S. military abilities (which have been eroding vis-à-vis those of China and Russia) to deter aggression and intimidation, assure allies, and influence events in East Asia and Europe.

    Aug 16, 2018