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

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jeh Johnson during an announcement for Johnson to be his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

    Commentary

    Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for New Homeland Security Secretary

    To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.

    Oct 24, 2013

  • MRAPs lined up for deployment

    Report

    Management Perspectives Pertaining to Root Cause Analyses of Nunn-McCurdy Breaches, Volume 4: Program Manager Tenure, Oversight of Acquisition Category II Programs, and Framing Assumptions

    Concerned with cost overruns in programs that breached Nunn-McCurdy thresholds, Congress directed investigation of the root causes of these overruns, and the authors examine various possible contributors to these breaches.

    Oct 3, 2013

  • Indian Army BMP-2 IFV combat vehicle

    Commentary

    Modernisation and Austerity

    In a time of austerity, strategic planning is about prioritisation. How should India prioritise its future military modernisation to meet its envisioned security requirements? Each of the three services can claim urgent need.

    Sep 16, 2013

  • Airmen from the 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron offload one of the two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from a C-17 Globemaster III at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, Sept. 19, 2013

    Report

    A Cost Analysis of the U.S. Air Force Overseas Posture

    While it does cost more to maintain force structures and installations overseas rather than in the United States, the total cost of doing so for the Air Force's current overseas posture is small relative to the Air Force's overall budget.

    Sep 16, 2013

  • Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron attend the working dinner after the session of the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, September 5, 2013

    Commentary

    A Not-So-Special Relationship?

    While the House of Commons vote against Britain's participation in a military strike against Syria was largely attributable to short-term miscalculations on Cameron's part, it also reflects important long-term trends that could complicate U.S.-British ties and weaken the traditionally strong bonds between the two countries.

    Sep 11, 2013

  • Report

    New Approaches to Defense Inflation and Discounting

    An examination of how well current inflation indices and discount rates serve Department of Defense weapon-system program management.

    Aug 23, 2013

  • The last C-130E Hercules at Hurlburt Field, Fla., prepares for its final take off March 4, 2013, prior to retirement

    Solution

    Replacing the C-130E

    The C-130 fleet performs critical air mobility functions for the nation, but part of that fleet is at risk from age-related factors. Which alternative aircraft would provide the required performance at lowest cost?

    Aug 20, 2013

  • Report

    Sustaining the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Mission

    This report proposes a double-layered framework for efficiently integrating and managing the sustainment activities of the U.S. Air Force nuclear enterprise in the face of reduced funding and a smaller force structure.

    Jul 31, 2013

  • The U.S. Capitol in Washington

    Commentary

    The Value of Perspective, in Dollars and Cents

    RAND's president and CEO discusses how rigorous and objective analysis can inform government organizations responsible for U.S. national security as they address today's budget realities.

    Jul 15, 2013

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: Vol. 37, No. 1, Summer 2013

    Stories discuss the harms caused by sexual assault in the military; the prospects for minimalist international interventions; cyber threats and nations' responses to them; and the rising costs of dementia in the United States.

    Jul 15, 2013

  • News Release

    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

  • Irish Defence Force and British Army working together in Mali

    Commentary

    Fighting Fit? Why Europe Needs Fewer Soldiers

    If greater co-ordination were possible across European nations — allied to a more professional cadre of soldiers — far fewer troops would be required, writes Matt Bassford. A reduction in land forces could deliver savings of approximately €6.5 billion in wage costs alone.

    Jul 11, 2013

  • 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

    Report

    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

    Commentary

    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