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Army Spending: A Look into How the US Army Budget is Spent Each Year

Army Spending: A Look into How the US Army Budget is Spent Each Year

The United States military is one of the largest forces with the most sophisticated capabilities in the world. Massive-scale operations and support require hefty budgets to be deployed successfully. 


Among the different military divisions under the Department of Defense (DoD), the US Department of the Army invests the most in its personnel, warfighters, and initiatives. This means Army spending grows larger every year to accommodate warfighters’ needs and the shifting demands on the battlefield.


Army Spending: How Much is Spent Each Year?


Breakdown of the FY2023 $1.8 Trillion Budget of the DoD
Photo/ Executive Mosaic


For the fiscal year 2023, the United States spent $1.1 trillion of its $1.8 trillion discretionary budget for the Department of Defense. About 20.3% of this approved budget, or nearly $366 billion, was portioned for the US Army; this amount ranked second after the DoD’s defense-wide initiatives, worth $783.6 billion.


Breakdown of the FY2022 $715 billion Budget of the DoD
Photo/ Executive Mosaic


The US Army’s budget for FY2023 increased two-fold from its FY2022 approved budget of $173 billion. Meanwhile, in 2022, the US Department of the Navy had the lion’s share of the total defense budget, having been allocated $212 billion.


Breakdown of the US Army Spending


Breakdown of the FY2023 $366 billion US Army budget
Photo/ Executive Mosaic


As the largest service branch of the US military, the Army supports more than 30 federal accounts. Also called budget materials, the federal accounts covered by army spending are divided into five main categories, namely 1) Research, development, test, and evaluation, 2) Military Personnel, 3) Military Construction, 4) Operation and Maintenance, and 5) Procurement of Weapons and Systems.


Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation


Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation
Photo by Joint Base San Antonio/ jbsa.mil


The Army appropriated $104 billion for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E). The budget covered a diverse array of research and development initiatives for designing, manufacturing, and testing new weapons and systems.


Operation and Maintenance


Operation and Maintenance
Photo by Training Resource Specialist Charles Rosemond/ U.S. Army/ ww.defensenews.com


$99.6 billion was allocated for the Army’s Operation and Maintenance budget materials. The funds covered the costs for operations, repair, and support of artillery, weapons, armor, uniforms, and military bases. Moreover, the Army utilizes this budget to train and upskill troops and non-combatant personnel.


Procurement of Weapons and Systems


Procurement of Weapons and Systems
Photo by Sgt. Randis Monroe/ U.S. Army/ www.defensenews.com


To bolster warfighters’ capabilities and advantage on the battlefield, the Army secures contracts with different government contractors to develop, maintain, and overhaul cutting-edge weaponry and vehicles. Procurement funds for FY2023 amounted to $62.5 billion and were used to purchase the latest ammunition, land vehicles, and digital solutions.


Military Personnel


Military Personnel
Photo by Staff Sgt. James Pernol/ National Guard/ www.dvidshub.net


The Army boasts nearly a million active soldiers, including personnel from the Army Reserve and National Guard, as well as over 300,000 civilian employees. For 2023, an allotted budget of $70.2 billion was used to cover salary payments, retirement funds, and social benefits.


Military Construction


Military Construction
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II/ U.S. Army/ Wikimedia Commons


Military construction funds amounted to $21 billion. These were used for the design, construction, and upkeep of various Army installations and facilities. The budget also covered building family housing and cemeteries, as these are priority needs in the Army’s bases worldwide.


Other forms of Army spending


Army spending
Photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton/ U.S. Army/ Army University Press


Besides the five main budget materials, the US Department of Army shelled portions of its budget to fund concessions, reservations, and various programs. In 2023, the Army appropriated $8.6 billion for various authorities under its helm.


Related article: Army Awards 7 Spots on Potential $610M Integrated Training, Program Support Contract


How much is the Army’s budget in 2024?


Banner of the 9th Annual Army Summit


In 2023, the United States government approved a budget of $797.6 billion for the Department of Defense, which was an increase of nearly $70 billion from the FY2022 budget and $36 billion higher than President Biden’s initial request.


As the US Army supports various domestic and global programs, the department initially requested a budget of $842 billion. On December 14, 2023, the US Congress approved a defense budget of $886 billion for FY2024. The staggering funds were approved by more than two-thirds of the US House of Representatives, who voted in favor of the DoD’s budget.


The increased defense budget entails some implications for army spending and other service branches’ expenditures.


Long-term Impact of Increased Defense Budget


Long-term Impact of Increased Defense Budget
Photo by Seamm/ Shutterstock.


Outlined are the lasting impacts that entail an increased defense budget and army spending.


Projected Continuous Increase in the Next Decade


The funds are forecasted to increase further in 10 years, amounting to at least $992 billion (based on 2024 dollars) by 2038. According to the Congress Budget Office (CBO), about 70% of that increase is designated for operations, maintenance programs, and military personnel.


Alternative Strategies for Uncertainties


Raised budgets may be vital for implementing crucial military operations, such as weapons development, new vehicle acquisition, and advanced research programs. However, the CBO noted that many programs that curb the projection of funds may bring uncertainties with the start or completion of operations.


For example, technical difficulties that arise during the development stage of weaponry may cause the DoD to cancel the program. Other uncertainties may also occur due to high labor costs and a limited supply of raw materials needed to develop weapons. 


That said, the DoD has alternative strategies for reallocating the funds to extend the service life of existing weapons and equipment or to cover other ongoing government contract initiatives. 


Extended Military Aid for US Allies and Tougher Immigration Laws


The Congress-approved defense budget bill for FY2024 authorized a $118-billion package to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan; Nearly $300 million of that aid support funds are allocated for Ukraine. Republicans initially refused further military support for partners and allies of the US, only acquiescing when Democrats agreed on stricter immigration laws on the US borders.


Raised Salaries and Allocations for Purchasing Equipment


Besides extended support for Ukraine, the increased defense funds for FY2024 authorized troop pay raises. The DoD requested an average increase of 5.2% in pay for its military and civilian employees. Additionally, a portion of the authorized budget will be used to purchase ships, ammunition, and aircraft.


Moreover, these increased appropriations will benefit present and future army spending; the US Army will have the most advanced weapons and mobility systems to sustain them in the present and future. 


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