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

  • A 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief marshals a B-2A Spirit bomber during an orientation flight at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., May 27, 2015

    Commentary

    Inside the Fish Bowl: High Stakes Acquisition Protests

    The Boeing-Lockheed Martin team filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office asserting that the U.S. Air Force's selection of Northrop Grumman to build the Long Range Strike-Bomber was fundamentally flawed. Work on the program, valued at approximately $80 billion, is now paused.

    Dec 3, 2015

  • Henry Rowen giving a briefing at RAND on the future of China, June 14, 2007

    Announcement

    Henry S. Rowen, Second President of RAND, Dies at 90

    Henry “Harry” S. Rowen, who as the second president of the RAND Corporation oversaw the creation of its graduate school and extended RAND's reach into domestic policy in the 1970s, has died.

    Nov 16, 2015

  • Soledad O'Brien, Chuck Hagel, Michael Rich, and Michael Lynton at One Night with RAND, November 11, 2015

    Blog

    What Is America's Role in the World?

    One Night with RAND brought together leaders in business, philanthropy, government, academia, and media for a discussion about the international strategic choices that will shape the U.S. role in the world for years to come.

    Nov 12, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to servicemen during a training exercise at the Donguz testing range in Orenburg region, Russia, September 19, 2015

    Commentary

    Is Winter Coming? Or, Our Russia Strategy

    In Washington, and across the globe, many ask if Russian actions represent a new challenge to international order, and, if so, what is the best course of action to respond to it.

    Nov 12, 2015

  • U.S. Marines receive a safety brief before they conduct live-fire drills during Trident Juncture 2015 in Almeria, Spain, October 27, 2015

    Commentary

    Building Interoperability for European Defense

    To make the most out of declining defense budgets, the U.S. needs to engage European forces to build interoperability that would enable joint operations to deter and defeat potential adversaries, even with little advance notice. But building interoperable units has often proved difficult even among the friendliest of nations.

    Nov 9, 2015

  • Report

    Joint Precision Approach and Landing System Nunn-McCurdy Breach Root Cause Analysis and Portfolio Assessment Metrics for DoD Weapons Systems, Volume 8

    The authors examine the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System Inc. 1A Nunn-McCurdy breach and document a methodology that can assess and summarize the overall performance of an acquisition portfolio at a point in time and over several years.

    Oct 23, 2015

  • The Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada returns to homeport at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrent patrol

    Commentary

    If We Keep Cutting Defense Spending, We Must Do Less

    The United States is underinvesting in defense and other instruments of national influence just when they are most needed. Improving defenses needn't require Cold War levels of expenditure but Americans should look realistically at the demands being placed on their forces and generate the revenues to meet those demands.

    Oct 19, 2015

  • News Release

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

    If policymakers wish to maintain the United States' international commitments, then to bolster deterrence the U.S. should increase its ground forces in Europe, accelerate modernization — especially of air and naval forces — and invest more in training, maintenance, and advanced munitions.

    Oct 19, 2015

  • 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