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US Military Budget for FY2003


Proposed military budget: $396.1 billion -- 17.8 percent of the entire federal budget and 53 percent of total discretionary spending (monies that are controlled by the Congress and the Administration).

Increase over FY2002: $48 billion

This proposed military budget is 15 percent higher than the average Cold War budget (in today's dollars).


The increase by and of itself is larger than the annual military budget of any other country in the world except Japan.

Here are the figures for the biggest spenders (with latest known year between parentheses). Understand that we are comparing the INCREASE of the US military budget with the TOTAL military budget of the other countries:

$34.8 billion (2001) - United Kingdom
$29 billion (2000) - Russia
$27 billion (2000) - France
$23.1 billion (2001) - Germany
$18.7 billion (2000) - Saudi Arabia
$15.9 billion (2000) - India
$14.5 billion (2000) - China
$12.8 billion (2000) - South Korea
$12.8 billion (2000) - Taiwan
$7.5 billion (2000) - Iran
$3.3 billion (2000) - Pakistan
$1.8 billion (2000) - Syria
$1.4 billion (1999) - Iraq
$1.3 billion (2000) - North Korea
$1.3 billion (2000) - Yugoslavia
$1.2 billion (2000) - Libya
$425 million (2000) - Sudan
$31 million (2000) - Cuba

National/"domestic" perspectives

Again, we are talking about the increase in military spending ($48 billion, not the entire US military budget of $396 billion.

The increase is bigger than the budgets of every other federal agency except for the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Health and Human Services. For example:

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development ($31.5 billion)
Dept. of Energy ($21.9 billion)
Dept. of Agriculture ($19.8 billion)
Dept. of Justice ($21.8 billion)
Dept. of Transportation ($19.8 billion)
Dept. of Treasury ($16.6 billion)
and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs ($26.4 billion)

This increase is bigger than the expenditures on Natural Resources and Environment ($30 billion).

How does this increase compare with the US budget for help? The entire international affairs budget, including foreign military aid, is $23.9 billion (half of it is military "aid"). So, $12 billion is the total amount the US spends on helping poor countries (80 per cent of the world population).

That's 25 percent of the increase in military expenditures.
That's three percent of the entire military budget.
That's 0.006 percent of the entire US budget.

Sources: Council for a Livable World and International Institute for Strategic Studies. The White House has summary tables for the proposed budget at http://wwww.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2003/bud34.html.

Also, the Center For Defense Information maintains a very informative page on World Military Expenditures.

Letter to the Editor: A reader, W.D. Gray of Sumner, IL, explains that the actual expenditures of the US military are larger than they look ($435.9 billions).

Dossier compiled by Gilles d'Aymery.

Published February 11, 2002
Updated March 6, 2002
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