When Donald Trump approved a massive spending bill last week, he gave the Pentagon another $61 billion. That’s more than Russia spends on its military in an entire year.
The president begrudgingly signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill on Friday just hours after threatening to veto because it lacked money for his border wall and had no fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
But among all the provisions in the 2,200-page bill, Trump was happy with at least one: the amount of funding for the military. At $700 billion, it’s $23 billion more than the president had requested and a whopping $61 billion more than was spent in 2017.
“Today, we receive the largest military budget in history, reversing many years of decline and unpredictable funding,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. “Now, it's our responsibility in the military to spend every dollar wisely.”
The extra money will be spent on a range of line items, including a 2.4 percent pay hike for troops, 14 new ships for the Navy, 90 F-35 fighter jets for the Air Force, and dozens of new helicopters for the Army.
The increase marks the largest year-to-year increase in base funding for the Department of Defense in 15 years and highlights just how far ahead the U.S. military spending is compared to the rest of the world.
To put the increase in context, the entire U.S. military budget is now more than the annual military budgets of China, Russia, Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, and France combined. And it’s more than 14 times larger than the Kremlin’s budget.
China, which has the world’s second-highest military budget, recently approved an 8.1 percent spending increase, although China’s economy is expected to grow only 6.5 percent in 2018. The 1.11 trillion yuan ($175 billion) budget is still just a fraction of U.S. spending.
Russia trails both significantly. The Kremlin has approved a military budget for 2018 of just $46 billion, according to the Tass news agency.
Despite the tame budget, Russian President Vladimir Putin showcased a range of futuristic weapons earlier this month, which he said put the Russian military several steps ahead of its competitors. The new weapons include a hypersonic nuclear missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and a cruise missile which the strongman claims has unlimited range and the capability to of pierce any U.S. missile defense system.
Cover image: U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)