The Cost of the Global US Military Presence

Anita Dancs

The U.S.
military's global presence is vast and costly. More than one-third of
U.S. troops are currently based abroad or afloat in international
waters, and hundreds of bases and access agreements exist throughout
the world. At the beginning of the 21st century, the government pushed
to expand this presence through a variety of mechanisms. Yet the
Department of Defense's budget presentations lack enough detail to make
it possible to know the precise cost. The budgets don't break down the
numbers, for example, on maintaining bases at home and overseas.

Nevertheless, from data on personnel, bases, and the Pentagon's
budgets, it's possible to make an estimate. This number comes from the
proportion of each branch's budget devoted to military personnel
stationed overseas, excluding troops based in and around Iraq and
Afghanistan. Since one-fourth of these military personnel are stationed
overseas, the overall figure includes one-fourth of the defense-wide
budget. Finally, it includes the cost of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and the amount of military assistance to other countries.
The report does not include subsidies from governments that host bases,
three-quarters of which come from Japan alone.

The final bill: The United States spends approximately $250 billion
annually to maintain troops, equipment, fleets, and bases overseas.

For the full report, please click here.

Anita Dancs is research director for the
National Priorities Project, a member of the Security Policy Working
Group, the Task Force for a Unified Security Budget, and a Foreign Policy In Focus analyst.


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