US National Security Spending: No Limit In Sight

US Military

The United States recently passed the largest national security budget in history at $738 billion. We saw President Trump sign the bill into law on December 20, 2019, after congress passed the bill with flying colors. What exactly are we spending hundreds of billions on and why?

National security spending increased 3% over the previous year to its highest level in history at $738 billion. Where is it all going? The US Department of Defense outlines much of the spending as follows:

Cyber ($9.6 billion)

  • Supports offensive and defensive cyberspace operations – $3.7 billion 
  • Reduces risk to DoD networks, systems, and information by investing in more cybersecurity capabilities – $5.4 billion 
  • Modernizes DoD’s general purpose cloud environment – $61.9 million 

Space ($14.1 billion) 

  • Resources the initial establishment of the United States Space Force – $72.4 million 
  • 4 National Security Space Launch (aka EELV) – $1.7 billion 
  • 1 Global Positioning System III and Projects – $1.8 billion 
  • Space Based Overhead Persistent Infrared Systems – $1.6 billion 

Air Domain ($57.7B) 

  • 78 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters – $11.2 billion 
  • 12 KC-46 Tanker Replacements – $2.3 billion 
  • 24 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets – $2.0 billion
  • 48 AH-64E Attack Helicopters – $1.0 billion 
  • 6 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters – $0.8 billion
  • 6 P-8A Aircraft – $1.5 billion 
  • 6 CH-53K King Stallion – $1.5 billion 
  • 8 F-15EX – $1.1 billion 

Maritime Domain: $34.7 billion and the largest budget request in more than 20 years for shipbuilding 

  • COLUMBIA Class Ballistic Missile Submarine – $2.2 billion 
  • 1 CVN-78 FORD Class Aircraft Carrier – $2.6 billion 
  • 3 Virginia Class Submarines – $10.2 billion 
  • 3 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers – $5.8 billion 
  • 1 Frigate (FFG(X)) – $1.3 billion 
  • 2 Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) – $1.1 billion 
  • 2 Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ship (T-ATS) – $0.2 billion 
  • 2 large unmanned surface vehicles – $447 million 

Ground Systems ($14.6 billion) 

  • 4,090 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles – $1.6 billion 
  • 165 M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications – $2.2 billion
  • 56 Amphibious Combat Vehicles – $0.4 billion
  • 131 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles – $0.6 billion 

Multi-domain and nuclear triad ($31 billion) 

  • B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – $3.0 billion 
  • Columbia Class Submarine – $2.2 billion 
  • Long-Range Stand-Off Missile – $0.7 billion 
  • Ground Based Strategic Deterrent – $0.6 billon 

The FY 2020 Budget funds preferred munitions at the maximum production rate. 

  • 40,388 Joint Direct Attack Munitions – $1.1 billion 
  • 10,193 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System – $1.4 billion 
  • 125 Standard Missile-6 – $0.7 billion 
  • 1,925 Small Diameter Bomb II – $0.4 billion 
  • 9,000 Hellfire Missiles – $0.7 billion 
  • 430 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – $0.6 billion 
  • 48 Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – $0.2 billion 

Highlighting the enduring importance of missile defeat and defense, the FY 2020 Budget funds the sustainment of the surge in missile defense investment we undertook in FY 2018 and FY 2019, while also investing in Missile Defense Review efforts at $13.6 billion. The missile defeat and defense investments for FY 2020 include: 

  • 37 AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3) with Install – $1.7 billion 
  • Support for Missile Defense Review (e.g., Land-Launched Conventional Prompt Strike, Extended Range Weapon, Space-based Discrimination Sensor Study) – $1.5 billion
  • Ground Based Midcourse Defense – $1.7 billion 
  • 37 THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense – $0.8 billion 
  • 147 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements – $0.7 billion

The FY 2020 Budget continues the Department’s emphasis on innovation and technology, which will enhance our competitive advantage. The Budget highlights emerging technology projects including: 

  • Unmanned / Autonomous projects to enhance freedom of maneuver and lethality in contested environments – $3.7 billion 
  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning investments to expand military advantage through the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and Advanced Image Recognition – $927 million 
  • Hypersonics weapons development to complicate adversaries’ detection and defense – $2.6 billion 
  • Directed Energy investment to support implementation of directed energy for base defense; enable testing and procurement of multiple types of lasers; and increase research and development for high-power density applications – $235 million (DOD, 2019)

An expansive list of budget items can be seen on the US Dept of Defense website.

The list of line items looks like we’re gearing up for World War 3. We’re continuing to build more planes, warships, and defense systems. Last time we checked, nobody was looking to invade the United States. In fact, we’re the nation who has invaded multiple others in the past few decades. We have no business being over seas or passing national security budgets pushing the trillion dollar mark. Your paycheck is being spent before you event get it and our national debt is skyrocketing. It’s time to bring the troops home, reign back national security spending, and stop pushing future generations into debt.

“DOD Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal.” US Dept of Defense, US Dept of Defense, 2019, www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/1782623/dod-releases-fiscal-year-2020-budget-proposal/.

Chase Renwick

Author: Chase Renwick