Best Defense
Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Anyone know the level of real, non-personnel U.S. defense spending?

Andrew Sullivan, who usually is smarter than this, says U.S. defense spending shows we are still arming for the Cold War. He carries the usual table showing how much we spend compared to the rest of the world. But I don’t think such charts reflect reality, because we spend much more than other countries tons ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Sullivan, who usually is smarter than this, says U.S. defense spending shows we are still arming for the Cold War. He carries the usual table showing how much we spend compared to the rest of the world.

Andrew Sullivan, who usually is smarter than this, says U.S. defense spending shows we are still arming for the Cold War. He carries the usual table showing how much we spend compared to the rest of the world.

But I don’t think such charts reflect reality, because we spend much more than other countries tons on an all-volunteer force-not just compensation, but housing, medical care, and retirement benefits. I would like to see a chart that strips out those personnel costs and specifically ranks nations by military spending on combat effectiveness. Anyone ever seen one?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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