Military spending, which is also known as military budget, military expenditure, and defense budget, refers to the amount of money that a government or any other entity sets aside for building and maintaining armed forces. It’s determined by several factors, including the total amount of funds that a country can afford to spend in a certain year, the nature of threats that it receives from other nations, and the level of aggression that it wants to inflict on other entities.
Military spending covers the costs of paying, feeding, and arming soldiers as well as any expenditure on war, nuclear weapons, and international military aid. Each country has a different idea on how much they should allot for military spending. The United States, for instance, spent more than $580 billion on military expenses in 2014, followed by China (which spent more $129.4 billion) and Saudi Arabia (which spent $80.8 billion). The U.S. allotted $598.5 billion on military spending in 2015, which constituted 54 percent of the overall annual discretionary budget.
Many people think that military spending is important and must be prioritized in the government’s annual budget. However, there are also many people who oppose to it, saying that it’s a waste of resources and that the money allotted to it should have been spent on other more worthwhile projects. To learn more about this argument, take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of military spending:
List of Pros of Military Spending
1. It keeps the country’s military in good shape.
Military spending ensures that soldiers receive decent salaries and excellent benefits. This, in turn, helps retain existing military personnel; since they know that their income is enough to provide for themselves and their family, they can focus on their work and won’t be tempted to look for another job. It also helps in attracting recruits and convincing them to become loyal soldiers.
Of course, military spending helps ensure that soldiers are provided with warm shelters, nutritious food, and comfortable clothing. This way, they can stay healthy and fit to defend the country and maintain national security. The budget also makes sure that there are enough supplies of high-quality weapons, tankers, ships, planes, and other kinds of equipment and vehicle and that these are regularly and properly maintained and always ready for battle.
2. It ensures that the country can defend itself from threats.
As mentioned above, military spending provides enough funds to train and arm soldiers and purchase modern vehicles, equipment, and weapons. These, in turn, enable the country to have enough manpower and firepower to protect itself from anyone who threatens the nation’s safety and security.
3. It helps maintain peace in other regions.
Military spending is used not only to outfit a country’s military but also to allow it to help other nations. The United States, for example, uses a portion of its military budget to assist countries that are going through sociopolitical troubles and require assistance with peacekeeping. Because of this, it helps many people and communities who have experienced struggles over the years and want to achieve peace.
4. It helps create numerous jobs.
Military spending doesn’t only create jobs for soldiers and other military personnel but also for people who don’t work in national defense. Specifically, it helps create employment opportunities in the manufacturing industry and provides jobs for those who produce weapons, uniforms, ships, tanks, vehicles, and other items that the military needs. With these in mind, it’s easy to see how military expenditure can assist in boosting both local and national economies.
Military spending also supports the economies of communities where naval stations and army bases are located. These towns and cities provide food, clothes, and other basic needs as well as entertainment to the soldiers stationed there, and they have built an economy that’s highly dependent on military spending. It can be argued that these areas would still have thrived even without military presence, but it can’t be denied that military spending has greatly contributed to their development over the years.
List of Cons of Military Spending
1. It takes a huge chunk off the country’s budget.
Modern weapons, tankers, aircraft, and ships can be costly, with price tags that can reach millions of dollars. The maintenance of these equipment can also be expensive since they require special materials and fully trained people to keep them in good shape.
Because of these, military spending takes up a large amount of the national budget and can skyrocket to billions of dollars every year (as mentioned above). These prompt many people to point out that the military consumes resources that could otherwise be used on other projects. Unsurprisingly, opponents of military spending support any reductions that would be made to it; according to them, these cuts would release more funds that could be spent on healthcare, education, food, housing, and other public and social services.
2. It may be used irresponsibly.
Ideally, the military budget should be spent on worthwhile products and services that would strengthen the military and make good use of taxpayers’ dollars. However, this isn’t always the case in the real world. Because of human error, poor judgment, and lack of proper supervision, military spending can be invested in low-quality projects and ultimately become wasted. Corrupt officials in the military may also help themselves to the funds and use it for their personal gain, reducing the amount that’s available for salaries, uniforms, weapons, tankers, and other important projects.
3. It promotes spending on geopolitical purposes.
As mentioned above, a portion of military spending is used to assist other regions and countries that are in need of peacekeeping assistance. This is a noble goal but, as what many opponents of military expenditure point out, this only promotes the country’s geopolitical agenda. As a result, national security (which is the military’s primary purpose) takes a back seat and receives less attention and financial support than it should have.
Military spending can bring about several good things to the country, but it also has a few drawbacks. With these in mind, the government and the people must weigh these pros and cons to enjoy the benefits of military spending without experiencing its disadvantages.