The U.S. Department of Defense budget has been steadily declining since 2013. However, the budget for U.S. defense spending when compared to other countries is interesting. According to NationalPriorities.org, "U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next nine largest military budgets around the world, combined."
These countries include China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, France and the UK, all countries that are major economic contributors to world trade and the world economy.
DoD 2016 spending
The U.S. tracks federal spending during a given fiscal year (FY) that begins October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year. The fiscal year 2016 began October 1, 2015. According to U.S. Government Spending, a total of $829.1 billion has been allocated for defense. Breaking it all down, the main categories that the money is spent on are the military budget ($604.5 billion), veterans' affairs ($178.2 billion) and foreign affairs/policies ($46.5 billion).
DoD FY 2016 budget requests
Taking a look back at an article released by the DoD's online Press Operations in 2015, the proposals for the budget included
"a request of $585.3 billion in order to fund Base programs and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The FY 2016 base budget of $534.3 billion included a $38.2 billion increase from the FY 2015‘s $496.1 billion."
The OCO requested budget on top of the FY 2016 base budget is an additional $50.9 billion. With that request, the budget included a breakdown of the planned purchases-new jet fighters, aircraft carriers, Naval ships and Army helicopters, to name a few. Funding was related to modernizing and improving upon military weaponry and equipment. Here are a few specific expenditures that the budget included:
"57 joint strike fighters ($10.6 billion), 16 P-8 aircraft ($3.4 billion)…9 new ships ($11.6 billion), the overhaul of the USS George Washington (CVN-73) ($678 million)…Reaper (MQ-9) procurement ($821 million)."
DoD past spending and criticism
The differences between FY 2016 and previous spending years were taken into account when deciding what exactly to allocate the funds to. With the DoD under scrutiny about its spending habits in the past, decisions for the upcoming years are critical. For instance, NPR's 2013 story "Egypt May Not Need Fighter Jets, but the U.S. Keeps Sending Them Anyway" reported that the billions of dollars that are allocated for military aid may need more oversight was originally thought.
"Every year, the U.S. Congress appropriates more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt. But that money never gets to Egypt." The story went on the explain that the money is passed through three major hands, "the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the trust fund at the Treasury, and then to the U.S. military contractors. The latter then begin the development and construction of tanks and fighter jets that are sent to Egypt." Of the thousands of tanks and jets that have been sent to Egypt, a large percentage of them have not been used.
"Robert Springborg, an expert on the Egyptian military, said that at least 200 of the tanks the U.S. has sent to Egypt have never been used. They are crated up and sit in deep storage."
In the article, Springborg also stated that the same could be said of the F-16 fighter jets that the U.S. has been manufacturing and sending to Egypt since the 1980s. A portion of the F-16s that were sent have not been in use and "Egyptian government officials have for many years advised against further F-16s. Egypt already has more F-16s than it needs."
In the same respect, DoD spending has been questioned in regard to Afghanistan. In a CBS News article published in 2014, the question "Pentagon wasting taxpayer money in Afghanistan?" was asked. In it, the article states that more unnecessary spending had occurred and special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John F. Sopko had commented,
"More than $100 billion has been allocated for relief and reconstruction." However, it went on to say that tracking the money has been overly difficult. "We don't even have a list from (the DoD) of where they spent the money…with no centralized list of where the taxpayer money went to in Afghanistan."
Despite the U.S. Department of Defense budget's slow decline, investigative and transparent reality bring it to the forefronts of public conversation. How much money that was originally requested for FY 2016 versus how much is actually being spent remains to be seen. With citizens requesting more transparency on where their tax dollars are going, the defense budget continues to be tracked.