U.S. military budget for 2018 blows the boundaries of reason

US military spending is an interesting topic. On the one hand there is a widespread conception among military personnel that the military is suffering under severe budget constraints. On the other hand the actual spending on the military is very high — and much higher than during the Cold War.

Now the 2018 budget is ready. William Hartung has a good comment on the agreement:

“Today the Senate reached a budget deal that would increase spending for the Pentagon and nuclear weapons to a mind-blowing $700 billion this year, while locking in an even higher figure for 2019. This would put the Pentagon budget at one of its highest levels since World War II, and many, many times as high as the military budget of any potential adversary. Do we really need these huge sums of money to defend the country?

The short answer is no.”

This reminded me of this episode from the War College podcast about the issue and myths of American defense spending. The essential point is that the budget is ridiculously high but the money is wasted on prestige weapons that are so expensive that they are impractical to use. Organizational infighting also contributes to the poor value that the United States gets from its defense Dollars. The tendency to oversell the features of new weapons and underestimate the production costs means that almost all procurement projects blow the budget.

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