UNITED STATES: Military spending to hit $482bn next year


Doug Lorimer

On February 2, US President George Bush submitted to Congress a budget for the next fiscal year (October 1, 2004- September 30, 2005) that envisages spending US$427 billion on the US war machine.

The Bush administration puts its proposed "military spending" for 2005 at $401.7 billion, or 7% of its total projected budget outlays of $2.4 trillion. However, this is only the amount sought for the defence department. It does not include the projected $17 billion in spending for the energy department's nuclear weapons programs or the $8 billion to be allocated to NASA's military-related programs.

For fiscal year 2004, US military spending will total $463 billion — consisting of $380 billion by the Pentagon on "peacetime" operations plus $20 billion by the energy department and other non-Pentagon military programs, and an unbudgeted for $65.8 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (this was on top of an unbudgeted $62 billion spent on these wars in 2003).

According to General Peter Schoomaker, chief of staff of the US Army, in testimony to the Senate armed services committee on February 11, the war in Iraq is costing the Pentagon $3.7 billion a month in Iraq, while the Afghanistan war is costing $800-900 million a month.

The budget presented to Congress by Bush for 2005 does not include any request for funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is expected the administration will make a request to Congress after the November presidential election for a supplementary allocation of $50 billion to fund these wars. This will take total US military spending in 2005 to $482.5 billion — probably equal to what will be spent by the rest of the world on armies and armaments.

While the Bechtel construction company and US Vice-President Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton have been the major beneficiaries of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (through being awarded big military logistics and reconstruction contracts), the principal beneficiaries of overall US military spending remain the country's big five armaments makers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.

According to the Pentagon's Defense News web site, in 2002 these corporations received a total of more than $86 billion in Pentagon contracts. Of this, Lockheed Martin got $26.6 billion, Boeing $22 billion, Raytheon $15.3 billion, Northrop Grumman $12.3 billion, and General Dynamics $9.8 billion. The previous year these five corporations received just over $70 billion in Pentagon contracts.

From Green Left Weekly, February 18, 2004.
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