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

  • three NATO soldiers on a range

    Journal Article

    The EU Can Save Billions

    The common policies of the EU countries have paid off. For the first time, there are euro and cent calculations to prove that the transferal of policies to the EU level, and their funding through the EU, actually saves national governments money.

    Jul 11, 2013

  • Report

    Costs of Flying Units in Air Force Active and Reserve Components

    Presents a methodology for compiling and comparing the costs of operating Air Force active- and reserve-component flying units and discusses how such comparisons can be used to explore force mix alternatives.

    Jul 9, 2013

  • Report

    Coordination May Improve VA Efficiency, Reduce Health Care Spending

    To improve health care spending and efficiency, the Department of Veterans Affairs should reduce dual use of both Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and non-VHA care, coordinate care between both systems, integrate electronic information, and consider a pilot program through which to test these recommendations.

    Jul 2, 2013

  • dog tags, american flag, stethoscope, and camouflage

    Research Brief

    Improving Coordination and Efficiency of Care for Veterans

    The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) can better use its scarce resources through improved coordination with the private sector to reduce potential redundancies. The VHA can also provide access to high-quality care and meet rapidly changing needs.

    Jul 2, 2013

  • Report

    Measuring the Value of Renewal: Age, Operational Tempo, Deployment, and Reset Effects on the Readiness and Maintenance Costs of Army Vehicles

    Age and heavy usage makes equipment renewal an Army imperative. Recent expenditures have been on the order of $10 billion per year. Quantitative analyses are needed to determine how often a vehicle should be renewed. This study assesses the effects of vehicle age, operational tempo, Southwest Asia deployment, and reset on mission-critical failures and maintenance costs.

    Jun 3, 2013

  • Blog

    At 65, RAND Continues to Make a Difference

    To celebrate our first 60 years, we created 60 Ways RAND Has Made a Difference, an online book to illustrate our most notable contributions. On our 65th birthday, we provide five of the most recent ways in which we at RAND are proud to have made a difference.

    May 13, 2013

  • Bastille Day


    Setting Priorities in the Age of Austerity: British, French, and German Experiences

    Examines the British, French, and German armies' approaches to accommodating significant budget cuts while attempting to sustain their commitment to full spectrum operations.

    May 6, 2013

  • The International Space Station


    Kill the Space Launch System to Save Human Spaceflight

    Even in the face of a budgetary spending cap and the ever-looming possibility of new cuts, NASA continues investing in a robust and diverse human spaceflight program. But with fiscal uncertainty expected to continue, it should consider reordering its spending priorities.

    Apr 5, 2013

  • RAND Trustee Harold Brown speaks at Politics Aside 2012


    A Conversation with Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown

    At an event on April 9, 2013, former Defense Secretary Harold Brown will discuss how to align America's interests, values, and defense budget to meet the nation's current challenges.

    Apr 3, 2013

  • Report

    Assessment of Beddown Alternatives for the F-35 - Executive Summary

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most costly aircraft acquisition program in Defense Department history. RAND assessed the potential for savings by reconfiguring the U.S. Air Force's combat-coded F-35s into larger squadrons, adjusting the Primary Aerospace Vehicle Authorized (PAA) mix across the Active and Reserve Components, and adjusting the percentage of PAA permanently assigned to locations in the continental United States.

    Apr 3, 2013

  • The Pentagon, as seen from an aerial view


    Grappling with the Sequester: Q&A with Charles Nemfakos

    Will any good come out of the Pentagon's sequester-mandated spending cuts? If nothing else, it will drive folks to think the unthinkable, says Charles Nemfakos.

    Mar 20, 2013

  • Blog

    RAND Contributes to Foreign Policy Survey on the Future of Global Conflict

    For its recent feature "The Future of War," Foreign Policy magazine surveyed 71 leading authorities on today’s global conflicts — including many current and former analysts from the RAND Corporation — and used their responses to rank future security threats.

    Mar 18, 2013

  • Report

    Portfolio Optimization by Means of Multiple Tandem Certainty-Uncertainty Searches: A Technical Description

    This paper describes a new approach and associated search schemes for optimization under uncertainty. Analysts can apply this method to a problem with a significantly larger number of decision variables, uncertain parameters, and uncertain scenarios.

    Mar 15, 2013

  • Senior members of the People's Liberation Army met the U.S. Pacific Command aircrews when they delivered relief supplies to the earthquake-stricken Sichuan province in May 2008


    China's Defense Spending Mystery

    China's decision to expand defense spending also carries clues about the Party's need to keep the military happy, the new leadership's confidence and new President Xi Jinping's ability to put his own stamp on policy from the start, writes Scott Harold.

    Mar 13, 2013

  • Report

    Obtaining Life-Cycle Cost-Effective Facilities in the Department of Defense

    The Department of Defense constructs, operates, and maintains numerous facilities. This report shares RAND's description and assessment of the process used to obtain life-cycle cost-effective facilities and how it affects construction options.

    Mar 5, 2013

  • Dissertation

    Fundamental Capability Portfolio Management: A Study of Developing Systems with Implications for Army Research and Development Strategy

    Examines the United States Army's use of capability portfolio management in acquisitions.

    Feb 18, 2013

  • President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013


    The State of the Union 2013

    The 2013 SOTU address will be remembered for its impassioned call for greater gun control just two months after Sandy Hook. But President Obama's second-term agenda can be characterized by its sheer breadth, reflecting the broad range of policy challenges facing the U.S. today.

    Feb 13, 2013

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: Vol. 36, No. 3, Winter 2012-2013

    Stories discuss the promotion of tolerance and critical thinking in the Arab world through children's media, the challenges faced by the United States in an era of fiscal austerity, and promising models for measuring teacher performance.

    Feb 5, 2013

  • U.S. Army soldier and security force team member maintains security on the street during a key leader engagement in the Lash-e Juwayn district of Farah province, Afghanistan.


    Big Defense Cuts Are Coming, Regardless of the Fiscal Cliff

    The prudent approach is to decide on a strategic direction that provides a framework for prioritizing which forces and equipment the United States should preserve and determining which can be trimmed or eliminated with limited risk to security, write Stuart Johnson and Irv Blickstein.

    Dec 28, 2012

  • Uncle Sam cutting expenses


    Wanted: Balance in Defense Cuts

    Budget reductions must be applied in ways that pose the least risk to national security. We need to shrink force structure carefully, reduce or delay procurement of some weapons systems, streamline management and cut personnel costs, writes Harold Brown.

    Dec 21, 2012