The eighteen nations with the largest military budgets in 2010 are shown in the chart above (click to enlarge). The United States, with a budget of $698 billion, spends more on defense than the next seventeen nations combined. The United States military spending is almost six times that of the next biggest spender, China ($119 billion) and more than eleven times that of Russia ($59 billion).
The Department of Defense budget in fiscal year 2010 accounted for 19% of the United States federal budget and 28% of estimated tax revenues. The U.S. accounts for 40% of the world’s yearly defense outlays.
Defense Spending by GDP – Top Ten Countries
- Eritrea 20.9%
- Saudi Arabia 11.2%
- Oman 9.7%
- United Arab Emirates 7.3%
- Timor Leste 6.8%
- Israel 6.3%
- Chad 6.2%
- Jordan 6.1%
- Georgia 5.6%
- Iraq 5.4 %
When spending is considered by percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the United States is not even in the top ten. At 4.7% of GDP the U.S. falls to eleventh place.
Six of the ten countries listed are in the Middle East where there are sharp regional tensions. The fear of conventional military attack is very real which helps justify high defense spending.
Internal instability is a growing factor and is a threat to the existing power structure within states, as demonstrated by recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other Middle East countries.
GDP percentages are for 2009, except for Eritrea (2003). The list contains seven countries that do not appear in the table below because their total military spending is lower than the top thirty nations.
Table Of Defense Spending – Top 30 Countries in 2010
Click ONCE on column headers to sort.
|Country||$billion1||$ Rank||%GDP2||%GDP Rank3||$ Per Capita|
|United States4 & 8||698.3||1||4.7||11||2,260|
|United Arab Emirates12||16.1||16||7.3||4||3,410|
- Figures are in US $billions at 2010 prices and exchange rates.
- Percent GDP is for 2009.
- Percent GDP ranking is included because high expenditure countries are not necessarily spending at high percent of GDP.
- $159.3 billion of the U.S. budget is for “Overseas Contingency Operations,” to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Figures for Chile and Saudi Arabia are for the adopted budget, rather than actual expenditure.
- Figures for Israel do not include spending on paramilitary forces.
- Figures for Japan do not include military pensions.
- Figures for the USA are for financial year (1 October to 30 September of stated year).
- Figures for China are estimates, including estimates for items not in the official defense budget.
- Figures for South Korea do not include spending on relocations and welfare of $974 million dollars.
- Figures for Italy include spending on civil defence, which typically amounts to 4.5% of the total.
- Figures for United Arab Emirates are uncertain and lacking in transparency. The only available source of data is from the IMF.
- SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2011, http://milexdata.sipri.org.
- Dollars per capita were calculated using 2010 populations via Wolfram Alpha.
- U.S. military budget percentages from Wikipedia, accessed 4 June 2011.
- DoD photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Clinton W. Runyon, U.S. Marine Corps.
Truth and Light says
I had read the US gov understates how much it spends on the military. The source said the gov lists some of its military spending as some other type of spending.
Yes, it’s true. For example, in the Federal budget for 2010 there’s about $108 Billion in cost for veterans administration and retirement pay and health care for veterans. Since this spending is directly related to the cost of the military, it’s misleading to hide it under other budgets.
Also the costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not budgeted for in the regular federal budget process and so they don’t show up in the budget documents that many people use for reference. It’s not a secret, but you do need to know how to find it it.
One of the biggest ways the U.S. understates it’s military spending was started under Carter, to hide the size of the renewed military build up after the Iranian revolution, and continues to this day.
Unfortunately this article perpetuates this deception when it states that military spending is “only” 19% of the Federal budget. This deception rolls in Social Security and medicare payments into the Federal budget financed by personal & corporate income taxes etc.
For the first 40 years of Social security this spending was reported as a separate budget, which is the appropriate way to do this. If we take Social Security (& as we should also do, Medicare) out of the picture, we would see that this number is far, far,far higher higher.
All of us fortunate to still get a paycheck understand this. We all see three separate deductions on each paycheck for income taxes, social security and medicare. Military spending comes out of our income taxes and should be calculated accordingly
There are only two reasons this deception continues – 1) to hide the true proportion of military spending, and continue all efforts to oppose its reduction 2) To displace the blame for federal deficits from the wars and military spending to the “greed” of keeping our elders out of poverty and supporting the attacks on social security and medicare
Note that the numbers I used come from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Perhaps you should contact them so they can update their database, if you have reliable data to submit.
Todd (USA) says
I just want to throw some numbers out there for thought. These facts are not so much to say it’s how it “should be” as it is just a statement about humanity and our endless room to improve.
With just the annual spending of the USA alone we could feed ALL the starving humans in this world for the entire year! est 925mil hungry (accord to hunger.org) so that would be $755 per person or $2 per day per individual.
Taking the worlds militarily spending 1.6 trillion and pop. of 6.84 bil we spend $234 per PERSON in the entire world each year! That is enough funding during each persons lifetime to give each person IN THE WORLD 20 AK-47’s of their own over their lifetime! What in Gods name are we doing? ($234x67years=$15678 /$780 per AK-47= 20!)
Clearly, this is not cost effective. $780 for a AK-47 is highway robbery. There is no reason they should cost that much. Also, you didn’t include the cost of ammo. A shiny new semi- or auto is no good without something to deliver down-range.
I fully encourage OTHER countries to use their wealth to feed the rest of the world — which pretty much detests America.
The numbers don’t mention how much individual countries “NEED”… as, as America is a favorite target for everybody to dump on, we don’t have JUST countries to defend against, but pretty much individuals, groups of individuals, terrorists, terrorist groups, drug cartels, etc. Not to mention, plenty of anti-American folks LEGALLY residing in the US of A. And, I actually think that illegal immigration could (and possible should) be treated as infiltration and invasion.
The typical quote is “12 to 20 millions” of illegal aliens in the US. Of course, this same number has been used for decades, so maybe they’re on the honor system to cycle themselves out of the US as new illegals come across the border.
I wonder if anybody has analyzed what portion of the world could be fed if the main drug cartels were liquidated and THEIR money used to feed the population. Although, I’m sure THEY get better prices for their AK-47’s.
Now, about the wonderful numbers…
“Stockholm International Peace Research Institute”? Where do they get THEIR numbers? I’m sure the Chinese would not prevaricate. Sounds like they’re jumping the gun a bit. Rather than note how much each country is spending, maybe they should be researching whether international peace is a possibility, and what would be required to get there?
Is peace possible, without defense? I mean, aside from all of the “good guys” laying down their weapons and being willing to allow BAD GUYS to wipe them off the face of the earth. I’m pretty sure there’d be peace, in the valley, for me… oh Lord. Dead people are usually very content. At least, if their not, they don’t mention it much.
Europe, massing together in common defense, much like they tried in the early 1900’s, and mid 1900’s? And early, late 1900’s? That seemed quite effective, as long as you liked gray, could goose-step, or breathe mustard gas. And, of course, weren’t gay, gypsy, jewish, of the lesser races, a republic, an independent country, black, or mixed race, knew your place, weren’t considered a ‘mental defective’, were useful for medical experiments, weren’t communist, weren’t fascist, weren’t marxist, or chinese/korean/africaan, didn’t mind conscription, didn’t burn to easily, etc.
It didn’t work out so well if you liked democracy, thought that the fruits of your labor should belong to you, wanted to grow what you wanted, thought politburo was a type of donkey, didn’t like dirges or the color RED, didn’t trust the government with all your secrets, wanted to cast your own vote, didn’t like waiting in line for food — for days, didn’t want to be used for target practice, didn’t like the steppes, thought that Gulag was a poor excuse for a family vacation, or didn’t like having secret police riffle through your every paper, belongings, fondle family members in front of you, and be under the constant threat of being “disappeared”. Otherwise, Europe’s done an admirable job.
Hey! Brits! What about those bazillion personal weapons that the Americans sent over to you to defend yourselves with during the Big One? No, the OTHER Big One. What? You melted them together and sunk ’em? And that’s why I’ll never loan my hat to a Brit. No telling WHAT they’ll do in it.
(Just kidding… I love ’em. All of ’em. Warm and wonderful people when they’re not drunk at a football game. Then again, most American’s aren’t much fun when drunk, at football games or otherwise. And yes, I know that European “football” is different than American Football. Loud, argumentative drunks are still losers, tho’.
Some beautiful countryside in Cheddar, and loved Scotland. Didn’t get to Ireland, where me mum’s mum hailed from. Ta, all.)
Malcolm Reding says
The current (2010) military budget is right at $700 billion dollars or almost twice as much as all the rest of the world combined. We spent last year about $2200 dollars for every man woman or child. What is even more alarming is that if we were to cut the budget in half, we would still spend more than the entire world combined. Russia, our old enemy spends 10% of what the US does.
British Army says
That is complete rubbish, nobody else in the world is competing with the usa. Europe could have a way stronger military. US spends 4.7% of its GDP on military, $700 billion. Europe spends 1.5% of its GDP, $500 billion dollars and has 2.200,000 active troops and 4,500,000 in reserve. USA is a power because the rest of the world doesnt want a fight.
… Nobody was talking about who’d win in a fight, mate. Calm down a touch?
Something about having a strong military because of all of the lives we have lost in the last 2 world wars in the last Century is very comforting. Everyone comes crying to us when they want protection but if will build up our capabilities to always be ready the whine about how strong we are and how much we spend. Preventing wars seams to be better than getting sucked up into one. Socialist European Nations should love this. It has there favorite word in it. “Free” military protection. Though Nothing is ever free.