U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is receiving kudos for his “bravery” in suggesting actual cuts to the defense budget. Not mentioned is that Hagel’s suggestions are actually more expensive than what the Sequester set as the amount scheduled to be spent and so are actual increases in spending compared to previously planned amounts.
All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011; this figure does not, however, include benefits for veterans, which came to another $127 billion in that year.
In 2001, the last non-war year of record, we spent (in FY 2012 dollars) $290.5 billion on the Pentagon base budget, $12.4 billion on nuclear weapons, and $16 billion on “Homeland Security” for a total of $318.9 billion.
1,385,116 active duty personnel
$318.9 billion spent
1,468,364 active duty personnel
$718 billion spent
Source of Active Duty Personnel Numbers (Military personnel on extended or continuous active duty. Excludes reserves on active duty for training.): Department of Defense.
In other words, the numbers of active duty personnel in these two years is roughly the same with no war fighting being projected for the near future. So the extra $400,000,000 spent in 2011 was to buy munitions, Hellfire drone missiles, and all of the other paraphernalia needed to fight the wars but which will not be needed in 2015.
And the “brave” defense secretary is suggesting increases in spending over what was planned and they seem to be cuts to the Very Serious people in Washington?
WTF? We need the same amount of money to not fight two wars as to fight two wars? I know, I know, those military weapons company executives and their stockholders have families to feed. Right.