USA needs to find ways to spend less on military and achieve more

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel , makes the case at Tom Dispatch that the USA is behaving much like the Soviet Union before its collapse.

Nextbigfuture thinks the USA is not in any danger of collapsing but there is excessive military spending especially when including the spending on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The costs in the wars is increased by the million dollars per soldier that will be spent on increased veteran health costs.

The USA would be far stronger now and in the future with less military spending for a decade or more.

The USA has spent about $5 trillion on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

In 2016, the USA had spent or obligated 4.8 trillion dollars on the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. This figure includes: direct Congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care.

This total omits many other expenses, such as the macroeconomic costs to the US economy; the opportunity costs of not investing war dollars in alternative sectors; future interest on war borrowing; and local government and private war costs.

The current wars have been paid for almost entirely by borrowing. This borrowing has raised the US budget deficit, increased the national debt, and had other macroeconomic effects, such as raising consumer interest rates. Unless the US immediately repays the money borrowed for war, there will also be future interest payments. We estimate that interest payments could total over $7.9 trillion by 2053.

In 2015,2.7 million service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001-2014). Many have been wounded or injured, and suffer from conditions ranging from brain injuries to hearing loss. The United States has already spent $160.4 billion providing medical care and disability benefits to these veterans. The cost of caring for war veterans peaks 30 to 40 years after a conflict, but there are no provisions to cover these future obligations in current wars. Future medical and disability costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will total between $600 billion and $1 trillion.

The USA is spending $825 billion per year on the military. This is larger than the official $575 billion military budget.

The Overseas Contingency Operations for DoD to fight ISIS ($64.6 billion).

There’s more to military spending than the Department of Defense. Many other agencies are involved with protecting our nation. These expenses are the third component, totaling $173.6 billion. They include the Department of Veterans Affairs ($78.8 billion), the State Department ($28.2 billion), Homeland Security ($44.1 billion), FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice ($8.6 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy ($13.9 billion).

The last component is $12 billion in OCO funds for the State Department and Homeland Security to fight ISIS.

Options for cutting back
1. Drop the F35 and other wasteful unneeded military procurement. The US is not threatened by Russia now. Russia’s economy is ten times smaller than the USA and can barely maintain its post-soviet military. China is rising but is decades away from matching the US military. Military gear that the US gets now will need to be updated in the future if there was a need to match China’s military. A stronger US economy would be more helpful.

2. Cut the 100,000 civilian workforce of the DOD added in the last decade.

3. Cut the pentagon identified 21 percent excess capacity in all its facilities and military bases.

4. Find more efficient options for dealing with the goals in Afghanistan and the middle east.

Use antivegetation spraying to take out the poppy fields that are funding the enemy in Afghanistan.

ISIS fighters use Captagon, an amphetamine-based drug. Captagon keeps users awake for long periods of time, dulls pain and creates a sense of euphoria. Fake Captagon or overdosing version of Captagon could be distributed into the middle east. This would mess up those who use it by the supply of the drug less safe and less reliable.

120210-M-MM918-002 U.S. Marines and Afghan border police off-load from a CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter during Operation Shahem Tofan Eagle Storm in the Garmsir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 10, 2012. The Marines are assigned to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. DoD photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)