Fact Sheet: $440 billion Can be Trimmed from Military Budget Over a 10-year Period Without Compromising National Security

** Interviews with military spending expert Miriam Pemberton available. Please contact Lacy MacAuley, Institute for Policy Studies, at (202) 445-4692 or [email protected] **

Washington DC – A new fact sheet by the Institue for Policy Studies shows that $440 billion can be trimmed from the U.S. budget over a ten-year period without compromising national security. The fact sheet is based on the report released by the institute and the Center for American Progress, “Rebalancing Our National Security: The Benefits of Implementing a Unified Security Budget.”

“We can make cuts to the military budget without compromising our national security. The Unified Security Budget shows how to cut Pentagon spending to the levels required by sequestration, but still invest in programs that strengthen national security.”
- Miriam Pemberton, Institute for Policy Studies

Excerpts from the Fact Sheet:


The issue of security spending is now enmeshed in the budget negotiations around the so-called “fiscal cliff.” At particular issue are the sequestration cuts to the military budget due to begin January 2. Here are the bottom-line conclusions on this issue from the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget:

  • If sequestration proceeds, it must not be used to protect the military accounts at the expense of the rest of the security portfolio.
  • Whether or not it proceeds, the total cuts to the military accounts specified by sequestration can be achieved without threatening our security if done in a rational manner.

Our case that this is so includes the following:

  • Until last year the baseline military budget — not including war spending — had grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years.[i]

Critical to our nation’s adjustment to the post-war period will be reshaping our national security strategy and budgeting for this new era. Beginning in 2004, the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget has successfully helped to shift the discourse toward a unified conception of national security spending and the proper balance between instruments we call Offense (military forces), Defense (homeland security) and Prevention (non-military foreign engagement.)

Each year the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget, made up of experts in each of these domains, reports on the balance among them in the President’s budget request and recommends changes to achieve a better balance. Our 2012 report was released in October. This is a summary of its findings.

  • The cut levels specified by sequestration would only bring the military budget back to its inflation-adjusted level of FY 2006 — close to the highest level since World War II and the second-to-last year of the George W. Bush administration[ii]. Was anyone, we wonder, worried that we were disarming ourselves then?
  • The military’s blank check over this period has had predictable results in the form of massive waste. The estimate of cost growth in planned procurement spending is $74.4 billion over the last year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. This would cover the entire amount of next year’s sequestration, with $20 billion left over.[iii]

Reducing spending to 2006 levels will leave our military dominant in every dimension, including air power, sea power, and ground forces deployment, as well as in transport, infrastructure, communications, and intelligence.[iv]


** Interviews with military spending expert Miriam Pemberton available. Please contact Lacy MacAuley, Institute for Policy Studies, at (202) 445-4692 or [email protected] **

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Institute for Policy Studies (www.IPS-DC.org) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power.