Military Budgets and Defense Spending

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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.

  • The launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile during a test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, February 5, 2020, photo by SrA Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Weighing the Cost and Necessity of Nuclear Modernization

    Jan 3, 2022

    The United States has fielded a Triad of air-, sea-, and land-based nuclear delivery systems since the 1950s. Major components are nearing the end of their service lives, raising the question of whether to extend or replace them. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to modernize, diversify, and expand their nuclear arsenals.

  • W01DN9 Chinese technicians monitor the precision, robotic welding of aviation and industrial materials at the Atlantic Welding Industry Park in Zigong, Sichuan Province, China, on November 20, 2017, photo by UPI/Alamy Stock Photo

    Research Brief

    Assessing China's Defense Industrial Base

    Feb 9, 2022

    What are the systemic strengths and vulnerabilities of China's defense industrial base? A comparative systems analysis looks at six key categories: economics; governance and regulations; raw materials; manufacturing; workforce, labor, and skills; and research, development, and innovation.

Explore Military Budgets and Defense Spending

  • U.S. Representative John Carter (R-TX) and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Capitol Hill

    Testimony

    Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the DHS

    If the Department of Homeland Security is to overcome the challenges of uncertain threats and budget constraints, it will need strategic focus to direct resources where they are most needed, strong oversight to assure that resources are used effectively, and cooperation across government to improve efficiency.

    Jun 20, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    The Future of the Army’s Civilian Workforce: Comparing Projected Inventory with Anticipated Requirements and Estimating Cost Under Different Personnel Policies

    To help the Army participate in planned reductions in the DoD civilian workforce, the authors examined how the Army might manage supply to meet projected demand for civilian employees over the next several years under a range of scenarios.

    Jun 18, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Authorities and Options for Funding USSOCOM Operations

    This report examines mechanisms, sources, and inter-Service agreements for funding special operations forces (SOF) operations and provides recommendations to reduce the frequency and duration of disputes over funding responsibilities for SOF.

    Jun 3, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    How Much Will Be Enough? Assessing Changing Defense Strategies' Implications for Army Resource Requirements

    Presents a method of estimating Army resource needs and allocation as a function of alternative national defense strategies, using three strategies as an illustration.

    May 28, 2014

  • Airmen show support to reservists deploying to Afghanistan

    Commentary

    Don't Chop the Air Force — Look to the Reserves

    The Air Force's latest budget plan proposes to cut 25,000 airmen. The recommendations made by the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) offer an alternative — and less risky — way forward.

    Apr 11, 2014

  • The Joint Multinational Training Command regularly trains U.S. and multi-national soldiers, during sophisticated and complex mission rehearsal exercises throughout Europe

    Commentary

    Pentagon's Reliance on Europe Is 'Wishful Thinking'

    There needs to be more frank and precise thinking about the kind of support allies are able and willing to provide. Counting on Europeans even just to pull as much weight as they have in the past is an increasingly doubtful proposition.

    Apr 9, 2014

  • Virginia Senators George Allen and John Warner, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen testifying to the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005

    Commentary

    Why the Pentagon Can't Bypass BRAC

    By trying to cut Congress out of the loop and bypass the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), the Pentagon is more likely to antagonize Capitol Hill and undermine its efforts to make sensible cuts in defense spending.

    Apr 1, 2014

  • airport security check with passenger walking through metal detector

    Commentary

    The Real Homeland Security Issues for 2014

    Americans should be able to discuss the terrorist threat and how best to meet it, how much of the country’s precious resources should be devoted to homeland security, and the impact intelligence efforts can have on personal privacy and freedom.

    Feb 5, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Improving Federal and Department of Defense Use of Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses

    The report investigates the barriers that service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses may face when attempting to contract with the federal government and the Department of Defense.

    Feb 4, 2014

  • Marine Corps Commandant James F. Amos talks to RAND's Seth Jones during a visit to RAND's Washington office Tuesday.

    Blog

    Gen. Amos Discusses the Future of the USMC at RAND

    The hard-won lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade will serve the U.S. Marine Corps well as it faces new challenges around the world, Marine Corps Commandant James F. Amos told a gathering at RAND's Washington headquarters.

    Jan 29, 2014

  • Report

    Sourcing and Global Distribution of Medical Supplies

    Opportunities exist to gain efficiencies in the global military medical logistics enterprise without sacrificing capability, notably through minimizing intermediate materiel handling, seeking the greatest value from commercial freight, and streamlining warehouse operations.

    Jan 28, 2014

  • F35s Diverging

    Research Brief

    The Department of Defense Should Avoid a Joint Acquisition Approach to Sixth-Generation Fighter

    Incorporating different service requirements in a single joint aircraft design can lead to greater program complexity, increased technical risk, and weight in excess of what an individual service needs.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • Blog

    Blog

    Thomas V. Jones, Risk-Taking CEO Who Propelled Northrop's Expansion, Revolutionized Aerospace Industry

    Thomas V. Jones, the Stanford-educated engineer who authored a bestselling RAND report in the early 1950s on U.S. Air Force transport options before becoming chief executive of Northrop, died January 7 at the age of 93.

    Jan 17, 2014

  • F/A-18C Hornets fly from Andersen Air Base, Guam, during exercise Forger Fury II, 5 December, 2013

    Commentary

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    Joint aircraft programs have not historically saved overall life cycle cost. On average, such programs experienced substantially higher cost growth in acquisition (research, development, test, evaluation, and procurement) than single-service programs.

    Dec 24, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money? Technical Appendixes on Methodology

    These appendixes explain the methodology used in an analysis of whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • Report

    Report

    Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?

    This report analyzes whether multiservice joint aircraft acquisition programs actually save Life Cycle Cost, and the implications that joint fighter programs can have for the health of the industrial base and operational and strategic risk.

    Dec 16, 2013

  • Crew chiefs from the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron perform checks on a B-52H Stratofortress during a recent Bomber Strategic Aircraft Regeneration Team (BSART) exercise here Jan. 28. The BSART involves more than 250 personnel who are forward deployed to an undisclosed location to set up an alternative deterrent base to service and refit aircraft for future strike missions.

    Report

    The Posture Triangle: A New Framework for U.S. Air Force Global Presence

    U.S. Air Force (USAF) global posture — its overseas forces, facilities, and arrangements with partner nations — faces a variety of fiscal, political, and military challenges. This report seeks to identify why the USAF needs a global posture, where it needs basing and access, the types of security partnerships that minimize peacetime access risk, and the amount of forward presence that the USAF requires.

    Dec 5, 2013

  • New Orleans Facility,Progress Photo,Anchorage,LPD 23,Forward Looking Aft

    Journal Article

    Strengthening the Shipbuilding Industry

    The U.S. Navy and the shipbuilding industrial base on which it depends on are approaching a critical juncture. Unless the Navy and U.S. shipbuilders adopt an integrated set of broad management strategies the United States runs the risk of shortchanging its capabilities to design and produce naval warships for several generations.

    Dec 1, 2013

  • Mexican migrants migrants clamber atop a freight train bound for the U.S.-Mexican border

    Periodical

    RAND Review Examines Immigration, Defense Policies, the ACA, and Correctional Education

    Stories in RAND's flagship journal discuss U.S. and Mexican immigration and labor reforms; British, French, and German defense policies in the face of austerity; seven ramifications of the Affordable Care Act; and the cost-effectiveness of correctional education programs.

    Nov 26, 2013

  • USS Dewey (DDG 105) Fire Controlmen Speak with a Royal Brunei Navy officer During CARAT

    Report

    What Security Cooperation Mechanisms Do Combatant Commands Utilize to Build Partner Capacity?

    Security cooperation with allies and partner countries is an important instrument of the U.S. government for advancing national security objectives. This report characterizes security cooperation mechanisms for capacity-building, produces a detailed database of the mechanism elements, develops and applies a preliminary means of evaluating select mechanisms, and recommends ways to improve mechanism effectiveness and efficiency.

    Nov 22, 2013