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.

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

    Report

    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

    Commentary

    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

  • Two U.S. soldiers run communications equipment from a bunker in Wardak province, Afghanistan, January 9, 2011

    Research Brief

    Addressing the Imbalance Between Strategy and Resources in a Turbulent World

    Deterrence is infinitely preferable to war. But the United States now risks relying more on its reputation from past wars for deterrence than on actual military capabilities that can be brought to bear when and where needed.

    Oct 18, 2015

  • A U.S. soldier provides overwatch security atop a mountain at Paktika province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2011

    Report

    U.S. Needs to Either Boost Defense Funding or Limit Military Commitments

    Limitations on defense spending in the context of emerging threats are creating a U.S. “security deficit.” How might policymakers adjust to bring resources into better alignment with strategic demands?

    Oct 18, 2015

  • Report

    Extreme Cost Growth: Themes from Six U.S. Air Force Major Defense Acquisition Programs

    Identifies and characterizes conditions present in six U.S. Air Force Major Defense Acquisition Programs experiencing extreme cost growth, using case study analysis.

    Oct 6, 2015

  • U.S. soldiers fire an M777A2 Howitzer weapons system during an artillery demonstration near Rose Barracks, Germany, July 24, 2015

    Commentary

    Multiple Factors Drive Program Success

    Congress continues to express concerns about weapon system cost growth and is considering multiple acquisition reform proposals for the National Defense Authorization Act. One proposal would hold program managers accountable via a “performance agreement” for key parameters that must be met.

    Sep 30, 2015

  • A U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter flies over Kalam Valley during humanitarian relief efforts in Pakistan, August 2010

    Commentary

    Pakistan's Shocking Strategic Shift

    Pakistan's security policies have experienced striking but underappreciated shifts since 2001 along three dimensions: aggressive behavior, strategic orientation, and self-examination.

    Aug 12, 2015

  • William LaPlante, assistant secretary of Air Force acquisition, testifies on acquisition reform before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, April 22, 2015

    Commentary

    Apply Principles of Professional Change Management to Acquisition Reform, or Risk Failure

    If Congress enacts substantial changes to acquisition processes as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, then it has a responsibility to ensure that the DoD has the opportunity and resources to implement proven change management principles to increase the chances for its success.

    Aug 7, 2015

  • U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors as they fly over the Nevada Test and Training Range, Nev., March 3, 2011

    Commentary

    Lessons from a Long History of Acquisition Reform

    Congress and the DoD have a long history of efforts to improve the way weapon systems are acquired. Now, changes to DoD acquisition policies and processes are again being proposed in the House and Senate in an attempt to get needed military capabilities to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines faster and cheaper.

    Jul 17, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Assessing and Evaluating DoD Inform, Influence, and Persuade Efforts: Guidance for Practitioners

    The Most Informative Results for DoD IIP Efforts Come from the Intersection of Academic Evaluation and Public Communications.

    Jul 8, 2015

  • A soldier pulls a vehicle engine from storage

    Report

    Inventory Reduction Without Regret: Balancing Storage and Rebuy Costs

    The Army should assess the cost of inventory not on its total dollar value but instead on long-term factors such as storage costs, repair costs, and the risk of rebuy.

    Jun 17, 2015

  • Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron with newly elected Conservative Party MPs in London, May 11, 2015

    Commentary

    A Conservative Ambition for the Defence of the United Kingdom

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his new Cabinet are spending their first days in office articulating a policy and legislative agenda, to be delivered in the form of the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 27 May. National strategy and defence are certain to feature on that agenda.

    May 14, 2015

  • A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III taxis to its parking spot Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 25, 2012

    Commentary

    Peacetime Fuel 'Tankering' Could Save $25 Million Per Year

    Fuel tankering is carrying excess fuel on an aircraft when flying from origins where fuel is less expensive than at the destination. Tankering fuel to a conflict zone like Afghanistan is almost always cost-effective, but the story is more complex elsewhere due to how fuel is purchased and resold within the DoD itself.

    May 4, 2015

  • French President Francois Hollande, U.S. President Barack Obama, and British Prime Minister David Cameron discuss the situation in Ukraine at the G20 in Brisbane, November 16, 2014

    Commentary

    France Is Replacing the UK as America's Top Ally in Europe

    The United States' relationship with France should be recognized and strengthened. France retains the military capability and the political moxie to contribute significantly and aggressively to collective responses to security threats to the Atlantic Alliance.

    Mar 30, 2015

  • Technicians assemble a small satellite

    Report

    Past Problems and Future Challenges in the Acquisition of Military Space Systems

    As Department of Defense plans for the next-generation space systems in an increasingly challenging fiscal and security environment, it is important to apply lessons learned from past space acquisition, which had experienced many difficulties.

    Mar 30, 2015

  • Air Force 2nd Lt. Ben Garland at the commissary on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, March 9, 2012

    Report

    The Likely Effects of Price Increases at Military Commissaries

    Commissaries run by the U.S. Department of Defense save service members and eligible family members an average of more than 30 percent compared to civilian marketplaces and are seen as an important benefit of service. How might price increases affect their use?

    Mar 27, 2015

  • A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor flying at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

    Commentary

    Where Commonality Can Work in a Sixth-Gen Fighter

    The DoD plans to fund a Darpa-Air Force-Navy technology demonstration program aimed at developing critical sixth-generation fighter capabilities. It's a sign that the Pentagon is adopting a cost-effective strategy but it will need to remain vigilant to avoid the pitfalls that have caused previous joint fighter programs to fall short of hoped-for cost savings and to accept unwelcome design compromises.

    Mar 13, 2015

  • Research Brief

    Innovation models for defence

    The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) commissioned RAND Europe to conduct a study of innovation models and make recommendations on changes the MOD could make to better harness and absorb innovation from external sources.

    Mar 4, 2015

  • Report

    Innovation Models: Enabling new defence solutions and enhanced benefits from science and technology

    The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) commissioned RAND Europe to conduct a study of innovation models and make recommendations on changes the MOD could make to better harness and absorb innovation from external sources.

    Mar 4, 2015

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony during a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 3, 2015

    Commentary

    Europe Must Spend More on Arms to Deter Putin

    Demonstrations in Greece and elsewhere suggest that the European public may have little sympathy for governments not devoting most efforts to domestic discontent and foreign indebtedness. But the longtime downward trends in European defense spending matter now that Russia has chosen to flex its military might, diminished though it may be.

    Mar 3, 2015

  • Illustration of idea, solution, and money

    Commentary

    Managing Technology in an Unmanageable World

    The need for purposeful and focused R&D in the U.S. has never been greater, but technology is advancing so quickly that the structures available to manage it have not kept pace. A comprehensive examination of the technological landscape is needed to help the government take a more holistic approach to investing in and regulating technologies.

    Feb 19, 2015

  • Report

    Defense Working Capital Fund Pricing in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service: A Useful, but Limited, Tool

    RAND researchers consider the advantages and disadvantages of funding the Defense Finance and Accounting Service through a Defense Working Capital Fund versus using direct appropriations.

    Feb 16, 2015